Dealing with depression
Support and treatment for depression
What is depression?
Depression is a serious medical condition that affects your behaviour, your thinking, your emotions and physical health over time. While feeling down only lasts for a short while, depression affects you for at least 2 weeks.
How do I know if I have depression?
Here are some of the symptoms:
- Feeling sad or down a lot of the time, even when there’s no reason.
- Feelings of despair that you can’t escape.
- A lack of feeling or emotion. You don’t feel anything and have lost the ability to feel happy.
- Feeling exhausted and lacking energy all the time.
- Continuous and long mood swings, when you change from feeling happy to despairing, sorrowful or angry and irritable.
- The things that used to give you enjoyment or make you happy leave you feeling numb or uninterested.
- Feeling that you don't want to talk to family or friends.
- Difficulty concentrating or a losing interest in your work.
- Putting on or losing a lot of weight.
- Different sleep patterns. You might not be able to fall asleep or you can’t get up in the morning.
- Some women suffer from postnatal depression after having a baby.
- Feeling guilty for doing something terrible or feeling worthless as a person.
- Feeling so bad that you think it would be a relief to die or hurt yourself.
What causes depression?
There are a lot of different causes of depression. These include:
- A build-up of stress and anxiety from being bullied, working too hard or family situations.
- Alcohol and drug abuse cause depression.
- Grief or serious life changes, such as when someone dies, you become sick, lose your job or have an accident.
- Depression runs in families and you might inherit the genes that make it more likely to have depression. However, if a family member suffers from depression, it doesn’t mean that you will as well.
- Chemical imbalances in the brain can cause depression.
Whatever the reason for depression, remember that it’s never your fault. Depression is a common health problem, just like as high blood pressure, diabetes or a heart condition.
If you think you're suffering from depression, the first thing to do is talk to someone. The most important thing is to deal with the problem. Don’t ignore depression or hope it goes away on its own. Organisations like Aware and GROW are there to help you and to listen without judging you. If you visit a doctor, they can advise on the best treatment for you, but it’s a good idea to talk to a support organisation as well.
If you are very depressed and are thinking of self-harm or suicide, you need to get help now. Call 999 or 112 and tell them you’re in danger of hurting yourself. Or go to your local A&E department and let them know how you're feeling.
Depression can affect you at any age.
What treatment is there?
If you’re feeling depressed, there are different types of treatment available. However you need to talk to a doctor to find out what treatment is best for you. Find out about going to your doctor for a mental health problem here.
Some types of treatment include:
- Counselling can help many people deal with their depression. Ask your doctor to recommend a psychologist or counsellor.
- Support groups where you can meet other people who have suffered from depression.
- Your doctor might prescribe antidepressant drugs. They may take some weeks to work.
- If you are prescribed antidepressants, do not stop taking them without your doctors advice. If you feel that antidepressants are not for you, ask your doctor what other options are available.
- Learning to relax can help. Try exercise (a brisk 20 minute walk three times a week can really make a difference to feelings of depression), yoga or spending more time with friends.
Some services that can help you include:
- Jigsaw - a free counselling and mental health service for young people. You can find details on your local Jigsaw here.
- Samaritans - a free, confidential listening service. You can contact them on 116 123.
- Childline - a free, confidential listening services for people under 18. You can contact them on 1800 666 666.
- Traveller Counselling Service - a free counselling service for Travellers going through any sort of difficulty. You can contact them on 086 308 1476.
Taking anti-depressants doesn’t mean that you’re different or there’s something to be embarrassed about. But make sure to get loads of information about them and to feel comfortable with the decision to take anti-depressants”. Chris, 23
My advice to anyone suffering would be to take each day at a time, don’t let anybody tell you what to do you have to make your own mind up and always believe in yourself. Things will get better sooner for some than for others but eventually they will”. Susan, 18