Depression

MindClinix cannot offer emergency medical services for urgent or crisis situations or for patients who are acutely ill. If you need urgent assistance please follow our advice here.

Introduction

Feeling low is completely normal. Usually, these episodes pass with time, but if you find that you just can’t shake off your despair, you may be suffering with depression. 

While we all have emotional reactions to stressful periods in our professional and personal lives, depression goes much deeper and affects everything you do. It is common for people with depression to feel they have tunnel vision and overwhelming apathy.

Physical pain often has an obvious cause, but depression is much more complex and can be due to a number of physical, psychological or social reasons that are unique to each individual.

Sunrise
Sunrise

Depression

MindClinix cannot offer emergency medical services for urgent or crisis situations or for patients who are acutely ill. If you need urgent assistance please follow our advice here.

Introduction

Feeling low is completely normal. Usually, these episodes pass with time, but if you find that you just can’t shake off your despair, you may be suffering with depression. 

While we all have emotional reactions to stressful periods in our professional and personal lives, depression goes much deeper and affects everything you do. It is common for people with depression to feel they have tunnel vision and overwhelming apathy.

Physical pain often has an obvious cause, but depression is much more complex and can be due to a number of physical, psychological or social reasons that are unique to each individual.

Symptoms of depression

Depression affects people in different ways. Below we have listed some of the most common signs to look out for. Please note that many of these symptoms are normal emotions we might experience on certain days, the key is the strength and length of time involved.

  • Mood: deep sadness or tearfulness; outbursts of anger or general irritability which in extreme cases can lead to violence. Finding that everything annoys you.
  • Enthusiasm: a lack of interest in your friends or favourite hobbies. A lack of interest or enjoyment of pleasurable activities.
  • Energy: physical tiredness or aches and pains. Having difficulty completing simple household tasks.
  • Helplessness: a general feeling of helplessness that affects your outlook on daily life. You feel that there’s nothing you can do to make things better.
  • Appetite: losing or gaining weight is common.
  • Sleep: look for changes in your sleep pattern, such as waking early or late and suffering insomnia.
  • Guilt: being overly critical and blaming yourself for your failings.
  • Escapism: this can lead to drug abuse, drinking, gambling or other dangerous activities.
  • Concentration: lack of focus, putting off decisions and a poor memory.

Symptoms of depression can vary, depending on your age or gender. For example, men are less likely to recognise feelings of hopelessness but will complain about tiredness, a lack of sleep or a lack of interest in work. Men are more prone to feelings of anger.

Women often experience feelings of guilt, oversleeping and weight gain. Depression is also affected by hormone changes brought about by periods, pregnancy and menopause. 

Teenagers display depression as anger, while having physical symptoms such as headaches and other pains. Older people show more physical signs such as fatigue, while losing an interest in their medication and personal appearance.

Busy street

Causes of depression

There can be any number of professional or personal issues which can lead to someone feeling depressed, but here is a list of the most common factors:

  • Loneliness 
  • Relationship problems
  • Stressful experiences (bereavement, financial difficulty etc)
  • Serious physical illness
  • Poor lifestyle choices
  • Personality (anxiety, negativity, low self-esteem etc)
  • Childhood trauma 
  • Alcohol or drug abuse.

Types of depression

There are many kinds of depression, so it’s important to understand the severity of your symptoms so you can identify the right treatment for you.

Mild depression is common and involves brief periods of feeling down, which negatively affects your enthusiasm for life. If the symptoms get worse they can lead to chronic depression, also known as dysthymia, which can last years. This leaves you feeling low most days, with occasional periods of normality.

Major or clinical depression is rare and relentless. While some sufferers might experience a period of depression once in their lives, others find that their depression keeps returning.

There are many other types of depression, such as atypical depression when sufferers enjoy a brief uplift after a positive experience. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is common in the UK and is triggered by the lack of daylight during winter.

Depression and suicide

Depression is a major cause of suicide, as sufferers believe that taking their own life is the only way to relieve the pain. If you think that you, a friend or a family member is a suicide risk, seek help immediately by contacting the Samaritans. Whatever you’re going through, you can call them at any time, from any phone for FREE. Call 116 123 or visit https://www.samaritans.org.

Mind Clinix Depression Test Kit

Treating depression

With the right treatment and support, most people who suffer from depression can go on to make a full recovery. Typical treatments include lifestyle changes, therapy and medicine. 

Using your personal determination, with support from those around you, you can use these practical techniques to help you win your battle with depression:

  • Exercise: this is good for both your mental and physical fitness. Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as medication in tackling the effects of depression. 
  • Avoid alcohol: drinking alcohol is a tempting way to relieve the effects of depression and anxiety. However, alcohol is highly addictive and can soon become unhealthy and dangerous. 
  • Diet: eating a balanced diet is as important for your mental wellbeing as it is for your physical health. Research shows that taking care over your food choices can lift your mood, reduce anxiety and ease depression.
  • Talk: find someone who will listen to you. It could be a loved one, colleague or a non-judgmental friend. Remember: a problem aired is a problem shared.

Qualified therapists and counsellors will get to know you and your personal needs, and will be able to respond accordingly with help and guidance.

Here are the three main types of therapy:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT): focuses on how your thoughts, feelings and behaviour are interconnected. It works with what’s happening now, rather than exploring your past. It’s widely used to help people overcome negative feelings of overwhelm and manage their lives more positively and effectively.
  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT): helps address the impact of relationships on your mental health. It can help you manage the effects of isolation, bereavement, break-up, and other relationship issues that may be underlying your mood disorder.
  • Psychodynamic therapy: less focused on specific problem-solving and is more holistic. Sessions tend to be a free-flowing exploration of your thoughts and feelings, with the aim of discovering patterns and developing insights into your depression.

Medication is the third way to treat depression. An antidepressant is the most typical type of medication designed to alleviate the symptoms of depression. While they’re not likely to cure your symptoms, antidepressants are a popular and effective way of making your depression easier to cope with.

The theory that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain is a controversial one. However, the way most antidepressants work is to rebalance the mood-regulating neurotransmitters. The greater the availability of these mood-regulating neurotransmitters within the neurons of the brain, the greater the improvement in mood.

Common types of antidepressants are:

  • Serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin-noradrenaline re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

Your GP or psychiatrist is the best person to advise you on which antidepressant is likely to work best for you.