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Remind me, what’s depression?

feeling depressed

Depression is a complex and often misunderstood mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Currently, it is said to affect 5% of adults globally. It can manifest in various ways and impact every aspect of a person’s life, from their emotions and thoughts to their physical health and relationships. In this blog post, we will look into the intricacies of depression, explore its symptoms, treatment options, and discuss ways to support individuals struggling with this condition.

Depression is more than just feeling sad or down, it is a serious mental health disorder that can have profound effects on a person’s wellbeing. It is characterised by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness and a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. Individuals with depression may also experience changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.

What are the Causes of Depression?

While the basic understanding of depression is that it involves an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, it is a lot more nuanced than that. The causes of depression are multifaceted and can vary from person to person. Biological factors, such as genetics, brain chemistry, and hormonal imbalances, can play a significant role in the development of depression. Additionally, life experiences, such as trauma, loss, chronic stress, and major life changes, can trigger or exacerbate depressive symptoms.

Symptoms of Depression

Recognising the symptoms of depression is crucial for early intervention and treatment. Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Treatment Options for Depression

Fortunately, depression is a treatable condition, and there are various effective treatment options available. These may include:

  • Therapy: Psychotherapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), mindfulness or interpersonal therapy, can help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviours. Therapy can help people make sense of and understand their depression develop tools to break out of the cycle. 
  • Medication: Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like sertraline or citalopram, or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like venlafaxine or duloxetine, may be prescribed by a healthcare provider to help regulate brain chemistry and provide mood stabilisation.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and practising stress-reduction techniques can all help alleviate depressive symptoms. It is also important to introduce more structure and routines to help with motivation and executive dysfunction symptoms.

How can we support loved ones with depression?

If someone you care about is struggling with depression, it is essential to offer your support and understanding. Here are some ways you can help:

  1. Listen: Be a compassionate listener and offer a non-judgmental space for them to express their feelings.
  • Encourage Professional Help: Encourage your loved one to seek help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist.
  • Offer Practical Support: Help with daily tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, or running errands, can alleviate some of the stress associated with depression.
  • Be Patient: Recovery from depression takes time, so be patient and understanding during the process.

Overcoming the Stigma of Having Mental Health Difficulties

Despite the prevalence of depression, stigma surrounding mental health conditions still exists. Over half of individuals suffering from mental health difficulties in the UK feel ashamed to have these debilitating conditions and find it difficult to ask for help.  It is important to challenge these stigmas and promote open conversations about mental health. By raising awareness and sharing personal experiences, we can help reduce the stigma associated with depression and encourage more people to seek help.

Depression is a challenging and often isolating condition, but it is important to remember that help and support are available which is why there needs to be more awareness of the condition. We can create a more compassionate and empathetic society for individuals struggling with depression by understanding how depression occurs and offering support to those in need.

Do you relate to this post and want to talk to someone? Find a professional here on our directory. Not looking for therapy but want to talk to someone right this second? Check out the Samaritans.

Illin Johnson
Author: Illin Johnson

Illin is a content creator for NeuroDirect and a neurodevelopmental support coach for her business Neurostar Wellbeing. Being a late-diagnosed autistic herself, she is dedicated to raising awareness about neurodiversity and empowering neurodiverse individuals through her social media content and work as a coach. With a background in neuropsychology and behavioural therapy she approaches her work with curiosity and compassion and strives to create a genuine and supportive connection with her readers.