Depression is a common illness, affecting hundreds of millions of people worldwide. People often confuse depression with the temporary feeling of feeling a bit down. A bad day at work can result in a person feeling sad for a few hours whereas the loss of a pet, for example, can make us feel blue for a more extended period. That can make it harder for people to recognise depression. That’s concerning since depression is a serious medical condition that can severely negatively impact the quality of life and even put that life at risk. Here is what you should know about depression.
The two biggest factors in differentiating between depression and simply feeling down, are the severity and the duration. Depression is a continuous feeling of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, or guilt. While people can be sad or upset following an unfortunate life event, depression continues on after the normal disappointment or sadness should have begun to clear up. We all can experience moments when we fell down but depression is more pervasive. The severity of depression can vary considerably ranging from having trouble getting enjoyment out of life to having suicidal thoughts.
Depression can develop on its own or following a disruptive life event like the loss of a job, an illness, or after dealing with someone else’s sickness or death. It can normally take a while to deal with these problems but depression can prevent people from recovering. While we tend to associate depression with just feeling sad, people who are depressed might become irritable and lack patience. They can have trouble making decisions or lose interest in their normal activities. A lack of energy and a loss of interest in sex are both common and depression can lead people to sleep too little or too much.
Serious Medical Condition
Depression is a significant health problem in of itself. It can also be a sign of other medical conditions. If you think you (or a loved one) might have depression, it is important to consult with your doctor to get a health evaluation. In some cases, depression is caused by medical conditions like hypothyroidism and anaemia. Often these are serious medical problems that can be easily corrected once your doctor is aware of the issue. If the depression continues after treating any underlying issues, our London psychologist team can provide an evaluation and create a treatment plan. The important thing is making sure you seek treatment before the depression becomes worse or other health issues become worse.
It can be easy to put off seeking help if you think depression is simply feeling blue. In fact, depression is a significant health problem. You may know that untreated depression makes suicide, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and obesity more likely. What you may not realise is depression has been linked to many other health issues. Strokes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, and dementia are all more common in people with untreated depression. Studies have found that people with severe depression can be as much as 40% more likely to have a heart attack than people who aren’t depressed. Even among people with heart disease, those who are depressed have much worse survival rates.
Taking Mental Health Seriously
We wouldn’t tell people with heart conditions to simply get over it or expect them to blame themselves for not getting better on their own. Unfortunately, this is often the attitude people take about depression. Those who have never experienced the depth of depression, don’t realise how many ways it can negatively impact a person’s quality of life and overall well-being. The good news, this is beginning to change as more people go public to talk about their struggles with depression. This has made it much easier for the rest of us to get the help we need so that we can live happier lives.
Treatments options for depression have improved over the years. There are now more effective treatments that work more quickly. Instead of the years on the psychologist’s couch that people used to expect, treatments are now designed to be practical in order to expedite the return good mental health as quickly as possible.
People are also realising that even children can suffer from depression and that depression is a particularly common problem for teenagers. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of depression so that treatment can be begun as soon as possible. It can be difficult to differentiate between normal teen moodiness and depression so seeking an evaluation by a professional can be particularly important. Children who display a change in behaviour, a worsening of their grades in school, or sudden loss of friendships may be demonstrating signs of depression or other mental health problems. If in doubt, seek medical advice or help from organised support groups.