Depression is a mood disorder, and it affects everyone differently. We all go through periods of low mood. However depression is when the low mood lasts for several weeks or months and has an impact on day-to-day life.

Causes of Depression

Research evidence shows that depression has no single cause, rather the onset of depression can be several different things ranging from family history, life events, lifestyle choices, physical health conditions and/or medication.

If some family members have depression, it’s likely that others may also experience depression; perhaps due to genes and we may also adopt learning behaviours e.g., watching how people around us cope with life situations.

Life happens to everyone however some may begin to experience depressive symptoms following a stressful or traumatic life event. For example, losing your job, physical or sexual abuse, health illness, moving home, grief/bereavement. Whilst it may not be the life event itself, perhaps it is our ability to cope or manage with the changes that these life events bring.

depression
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Symptoms of Depression

Depression symptoms can be categorised as physical, psychological, and social. Typically, people start to experience fatigue or loss of energy, feel low in mood and they may lose interest in things they once enjoyed.

Psychological symptoms include feeling helpless/hopeless, having low self-esteem, experiencing feels of anxiety and not motivated.

Social symptoms may include avoiding contact with friends/family, perhaps not engaging in certain activities and interests; this can go on to difficulties in home life and impacting relationships. You are able to identify depression by a persons behaviour; they may start to withdraw from conversations and social situations.   

The Office for National Statistics (2023) reported that 1 in 6 adults experience moderate to severe depressive symptoms.

Helping yourself

Recognising and identifying your symptoms is key to be able to help yourself; when you start to recognise a change within your mood it’s important to check in with yourself and try and engage in activities to boost your mood. Regular exercise can help or if exercise feels to difficult just moving our bodies; even a brisk 10 minute walk can increase mental alertness, boost your energy and mood (Ekkekakis et al (2000).

Sleep and diet have a huge role within the maintenance of our mental health. Poor sleep/broken sleep can further exacerbate depressive symptoms and depression can contribute to sleep problems – breaking this cycle can be quite challenging. Healthy eating can also help boost mood.

Researching your symptoms can help you understand depression better, self-help books can provide insight about what may cause you to feel depressed or attending a support groups can allow you to share your experiences with others.

It can be helpful to avoid cigarettes and alcohol as essentially, they just mask the true symptoms; whilst we might experience temporary relief from the symptoms initially in the long run they do more harm than good.

depression
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Seeking Help

None of us are superhuman and if things are getting too much and feeling like you can’t cope its important to talk to someone and ask for help.

Seeking professional help means you are taking a pro-active approach to looking after yourself and your wellbeing. You can visit the GP, discuss your symptoms and they will explore treatment options. This can include medication, lifestyle changes and/or perhaps a referral to talking therapies.

Treatments for Depression

Treatment options will vary according to the severity of symptoms presented and it is common for a combination of treatments to be suggested.

For mild symptoms the GP may suggest a period of ‘watching waiting’; this is where the GP monitors you and your symptoms to see if they improve with lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise changes, alongside self help and support groups.

Antidepressant medication is a common treatment option; there are several types so its best to discuss with your GP. When taking new medication it can take 1-2 weeks before the benefits can be noticed so the GP may monitor you during this time.

NICE guidelines recommend talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are often also used to help with mild to moderate symptoms, alongside antidepressant medication. (NHS.co.uk). You can also refer yourself for talking therapies or private counselling.

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Living with Depression

Living with depression is possible with the right treatment and support; its one of the most common and treatable mental health illnesses. By recognising symptoms early and engaging with the right support a lot of people feel they can gain some control of their symptoms and can go on to lead fulfilling happier lives.

In recent years with the development of technology there are a variety of apps to support mental health as well various online forums for continuous support.

References.

Ekkekakis, P., Hall, E.E., Van Landuyt, L.M. & Petruzzello, S. (2000). Walking in (affective) circles: Can short walks enhance affect? Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 23 (3), 245–275

NHS.co.uk

This is a wonderful new series where we hope to bring you concise information about various mental health issues. You will be able to find more on other conditions in our Mental Health Fact File section. don’t forget to join the conversation on social media. You can find us at TikTok, Instagram, Threads, Facebook and Twitter and Dr Ravi Gill on Instagram.

Dr. Ravi Gill
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Dr Ravi Gill is a Health Psychologist, registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and a Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). After completing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology Ravi went on to complete a masters in Psychology Health and Behaviour, a further Masters specialising in Health Psychology and completed the Professional Doctorate Programme in Health Psychology.

 

After completing her Doctorate, Ravi worked in the private sector carrying out specialist assessments and evidence-based psychological therapy to adults living with a mental health diagnosis and presenting with a range of comorbidities (e.g. anxiety/depression and/or physical health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, Parkinson’s) to help them progress from high intense living towards step down living. Ravi has worked in the field of mental health since 2011 and has experience working with patients with complex mental health difficulties such as paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorder and psychosis as well as relational problems such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Ravi is an experienced clinician, having worked with a variety of client groups including early intervention services, adult mental health and older adults in both the private sector and the NHS. Ravi has special interests in working with people with a dual diagnosis of mental health and physical health complexities. She has designed and delivered interventions to professionals to help improve physical health outcomes of those with a mental health diagnosis.

Ravi currently works within the private sector within Occupational Health Services for the Metropolitan Police Service. The main focus is around treating trauma and Ravi contributed to the development of a psychological monitoring programme for officers in high-risk roles; this programme provides regular wellbeing checks to ensure the their job role is not having a negative impact on their mental health. This programme also helps to identify early risk factors associated with a trauma presentation.

 

 

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About Author

Dr Ravi Gill is a Health Psychologist, registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and a Chartered Member of the British Psychological Society (BPS). After completing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology Ravi went on to complete a masters in Psychology Health and Behaviour, a further Masters specialising in Health Psychology and completed the Professional Doctorate Programme in Health Psychology.

 

After completing her Doctorate, Ravi worked in the private sector carrying out specialist assessments and evidence-based psychological therapy to adults living with a mental health diagnosis and presenting with a range of comorbidities (e.g. anxiety/depression and/or physical health conditions such as diabetes, asthma, Parkinson’s) to help them progress from high intense living towards step down living. Ravi has worked in the field of mental health since 2011 and has experience working with patients with complex mental health difficulties such as paranoid schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorder and psychosis as well as relational problems such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Ravi is an experienced clinician, having worked with a variety of client groups including early intervention services, adult mental health and older adults in both the private sector and the NHS. Ravi has special interests in working with people with a dual diagnosis of mental health and physical health complexities. She has designed and delivered interventions to professionals to help improve physical health outcomes of those with a mental health diagnosis.

Ravi currently works within the private sector within Occupational Health Services for the Metropolitan Police Service. The main focus is around treating trauma and Ravi contributed to the development of a psychological monitoring programme for officers in high-risk roles; this programme provides regular wellbeing checks to ensure the their job role is not having a negative impact on their mental health. This programme also helps to identify early risk factors associated with a trauma presentation.

 

 

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