Depression is the most common type of mood disorder, and affects approximately 10% of the UK population. All people experience states of unhappiness, but depression is an enduring state of deep unhappiness. Depression is a serious clinical condition, which can prevent carrying on with everyday life.
Are you feeling depressed?
Have you been feeling low for the past few weeks? Have you lost your appetite or sex-drive? Have you had physical aches and pains, or trouble sleeping? Have you lost interest in activities that you used to derive joy from, or sometimes feel that life may no longer be worth living?
If you have been experiencing some of these symptoms for a period of a few weeks, you may be suffering from clinical depression and should seek help. It is extremely important to seek support if your symptoms are not improving, if your state has affected your work, relationships, or personal interests, or if you are having any thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
What causes depression?
There are many things that can bring on a case of depression. Triggers could include life-changing or stressful events, including losing a loved one, losing a job, or moving home. However, depression can also come on for no obvious or specific reason.
There is no single cause for depression, and it can result from an interaction of several factors. As well stressful events, people with certain personalities or a family history of depression may be more vulnerable to develop the condition. Additionally, the use of alcohol and drugs to cope with one’s struggles may worsen the condition, resulting in a continuous downward spiral.
One form of depression is called dysthymia (also known as persistent depressive disorder). This is a continuous and long-term state of unhappiness and negative emotion. The symptoms are similar to those of depression, but can last years or even endure throughout life. Although not as severe as major depression, individuals with dysthymia can vary in the intensity of their depression, which can change over time.
Depression counselling and psychotherapy – how treatments works for depression
There are a variety of treatments available for mild forms of depression. These can include lifestyle changes, such as exercise, or self-help groups.
For mild to moderate depression, talking therapy or counselling can be effective in reducing the related symptoms and treating the condition. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common talking therapy in the treatment of depression. Typical CBT sessions involve talking through one’s problems with a certified clinician, with the aim to understand how one’s own thoughts impact their negative emotions and behaviours. Patient and clinician then work together to alter these negative thought patterns and behaviours, in order to improve one’s feelings and experiences.
For more severe forms of depression, antidepressants can also be effective. These medications aim to restore an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, which are responsible for many of the observable symptoms of depression. Combination therapy, in which antidepressants are taken along with undergoing a type of therapy, can be particularly effective in treating depression. Research finds that this combination approach tends to work better than any stand-alone treatment.
Additionally, self-help strategies can be hugely successful in the treatment of depression. There is evidence that getting regular exercise can reduce symptoms of the condition. Self-help groups are also a viable option, as talking through ones feelings can help relieve some of the burdens of depression.