Depression has a different scale of effect depending on the sufferer and their severity. As individuals suffering from Depression, understating symptoms of depression has the potential to be dangerous. While doctors are able to identify depression in various degrees of intensity, suffering from depression alone can be incredibly difficult. This makes seeking help crucial as it can prove debilitating in many cases.
Unfortunately, because of the stigma, which still prevails about Depression. Sufferers may often hide their condition due to the perceived implications from their peers. The emotional and psychological symptoms can include the following:
- Chronic low mood and chronic feelings of sadness
- The tendency to cry or to show little to no emotion
- Low self-esteem and negative feelings about oneself
- A distinct lack of motivation to do anything, even hobbies once enjoyed.
- Feeling defensive and/or easily irritable
- Withdrawal from social and family relationships
- Increased levels of anxiety and the likelihood of panic attacks
- Depression of severity can lead to increased chances of expressing suicidal thoughts
- Increased chances of Self-Harm
Those suffering from depression can also experience longer-term physical conditions such as:
- Disturbed Sleep cycles – Sleeping more/less or not at all
- Effects on Appetite – eating more/less or not at all
- An unexplained issue with low energy, chronic fatigue
- Poor recollective memory
- Lack of libido
- A high degree of awareness for the speed in which they speak.
- Difficulties in concentrating on particular tasks
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Depression – What are the causes?
Depression and how it manifests in a person vary immensely due to personal circumstances and conditions. For some, depressive episodes are due to an acute cause (Traumatic event, losing their job, breaking up a relationship). In other instances, depression can just appear from out of nowhere with no immediate explanation as to why.
The conundrum for sufferers and medical professionals is what exactly caused the Depression in the first place? Whether it arose from factors of environment, biological or psychological varies as well. For many people, past and recent trauma, genetic or psychological preconditions are all factors which may contribute overall.
Much like other conditions, experiences in our formative years in childhood have dramatic effects on us long-term. Battling with issues of low self-esteem or trauma as and from childhood can lead to severe challenges as an adult.
Elements such as poor self-help including the use of alcohol and other substances are attributed to depression to an extent; whether a cause of or means of alleviating its symptoms by sufferers.
Some people with depression have been found to be predisposed to having Depression. Family members assessed to have depression have a higher chance of passing it on to any children.
Am I suffering from Depression? How can I be sure?
Where Depression can vary immensely from person to person, it can prove a challenge both to potential sufferers, among others, to identify the conditions of depression versus whatever else it might be.
Other, more acute moods can be mistaken for more chronic depression, but it is essential to understand the differences between them.
- Low Mood – We all experience a period where we suffer from the low mood at some point in our lives. It’s when these feelings continue on for a prolonged period of time that Depression ought to be considered a possibility.
- Experiencing Grief – Any kind of bereavement can lead to a spiral of grief, which can vary in its intensity and span of time. It causes a disturbance of the traditional sleep schedule along with a lack of motivation. Grief can also coincide with Depression of low intensity. But grief and clinical depression are distinct in their difference. Grief is a healthy reaction to loss, while Depression can bring with it longer-term impacts on daily life.
- Anxiety – Wherever Depression is, Anxiety is usually alongside it. Those suffering from Depression will find issues with anxiety as well. But while the two can coincide, it’s possible to suffer from anxiety and not depression. If you suffer from feelings of panic and fear while continually feeling on edge. You most likely have an issue with anxiety as opposed to depression.
- Stress – External pressures we face within our personal, professional and academic lives can leave us with a low-mood and fatigued. This can lead to attributes such as irritability and lack energy. The difference is that with stress, sufferers will feel relief after a few days and be back to normal. On the other hand, if these feelings don’t go away, you may suffer from a form of Depression.
- Loneliness – From our very first ancestors, we have always been social animals. When we experience long spans of time in social and personal isolation, this can lead to low moods. This can easily be remedied once social interaction takes place. With those with depression, difficulty to connect socially with others means that sufferers can feel lonely and isolated even when surrounded by people.
- Side effects of the medicine – Many medications readily prescribed by medical professionals can have side effects similar to those exhibited by sufferers of depression. Once the cycle of medication has ended, these symptoms cease to occur.
- Health issues – Pre-existing medical issues can also cause depressive symptoms. Those with hormonal imbalances, low blood sugar levels or even head trauma may feel conditions similar to depression.
Depression – How long does it take to get cured?
For many people, unfortunately, it’s not possible to cure their depression. Therefore, therapy centres itself around managing it whenever it causes significant problems in a person’s life. The risk of relapse for those suffering from chronic depression is, sadly, anywhere from 70-90% with only half going on to have treatment to some extent.
For others, it varies due to the needs and factors of the individual. Some may find an extreme bout of depression, which could clear up, over a span of 6 months. Others can find themselves having treatment over the years to alleviate their conditions.
The misunderstandings and Stigma surrounding Depression
Sadly in this day and age, Depression has led many sufferers to hide it away from others due to the stigma attached. People often grossly misunderstand the complexity of Depression, leading to more people to hide it away.
Suffering from Depression is stigmatised as a sign of personal weakness and laziness. This leads to the misjudgement of people in the workplace as lazy when in reality they struggle against a tide of Depression.
Seeking out treatment has also been seen as a sign of weakness. In reality, it’s the single greatest act of strength a sufferer can demonstrate. They actively confront it as a danger to themselves and others and seek to get help in overcoming it.
How is Depression Diagnosed?
An initial consultation with a Therapist, Counsellor or GP can help provide the means of assessing and diagnosing Depression. Through the consultation, a range of questions is asked on how many of the symptoms the sufferer may feel and how they believe it impacts their daily life.
The crucial factor is honesty, this allows for as clear a picture to be drawn about the severity of the depression and provide the first steps to a long-term treatment plan. As a clinic, we use the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines for the process of assessing, diagnosing and treating issues such as Depression.
For more information, please visit www.nice.org.uk.
Treatment for Depression – Our recommendations
The treatment method is holistic; varying tremendously due to the degrees and background of each individual patient. The use of treatments such as group therapy may be effective for some, but not others.
Treatment fluctuates depending on the intensity of the Depression. With treatments ranging from counselling to hospitalisation if the condition presents a danger. Tests such as Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) or Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) may be used to better understand the individual.
Treatment also needs to reflect the origins of Depression. These range from childhood trauma to biological and environmental reasons. This makes the treatment very nuanced for each patient. Biological aspects such as neurotransmitter issues may require medication such as Anti-Depressants.
With any medication prescribed, it’s important to assess their effects on you and effectiveness and consult your medical professional about any concerns.
For others, talk therapy can prove effective as an intervention. Depending on the organisation or group you undertake this with, they can offer a variety of treatment methods. The frequency and type can range from whatever is deemed to be the most constructive environment for the patient.
These methods can include:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Interpersonal Therapy
It’s crucial to understand that Depression requires vigilance; while it may be tempting to end treatment once you feel better. Depression often comes in cycles of normality and relapse; meaning consistent treatment may be necessary.
What if I don’t receive treatment for my Depression?
While acute problems with Depression can come and go without difficulties, Chronic Depression presents many risks to the sufferer. These risks can escalate to be dangerous and life-threatening; disturbance of sleep cycles, eating less, self-harm and even suicide attempts make Depression potentially fatal for sufferers who don’t seek out help.
If you or someone you know suffers from depression, please share this with them. And don’t delay in seeking out help.
ChildLine: 0800 1111
Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
Counselling and Therapeutic Services and Organisations
There are many trained professionals who will be able to support you such as counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Counselling and psychotherapy clinics – Searching in your local area should show nearby clinics that can help.
The NHS – an alternative to private practice in the UK is seeing your GP and asking for a referral to a specialist.
Mental Health Charities – organisations such as MIND, Rethink, Young Minds, Mental Health Foundation and National Self Harm Network may provide support groups, therapy and advice in your local area.
Author – Dr Aisha Ali – DPsych Couns Psych, ADOS 2 Certified B.Psych (Hons)
Dr Aisha Ali is a highly experienced BPS Chartered Counselling Psychologist and Expert witness with over 15 years experience of working within the NHS in complex care and private practice. She has extensive experience of working with individuals, couples and families presenting with complex psychological and emotional issues. Aisha provides life and performance coaching.