Signs this might be a problem…
- you’ve been feeling sad or crap for a while
- you’re under a lot of stress
- you don’t have any energy
- you feel worthless
What is depression?
People often use the word depression when they are talking about moments or phases when they’re feeling sad or down. But more officially, depression is a name for a range of different conditions. These include conditions where someone feels a sadness that is more severe than normal, lasts longer than two weeks and interferes with how they cope with everyday life.
Clinical depression (also known as non-melancholic depression and major depression) is the most common type of depression and it affects one in four females and one in six males over their lifetime. It can be pretty hard to diagnose because some of the symptoms of other types of depression are really unique (e.g. impaired mental functioning, psychotic features, or physical disturbance), whereas the symptoms of clinical depression aren’t so specific.
Clinical depression is usually caused as a result of a person going through a stressful event or chain of stressful events, for example:
- family breakup
- child abuse
- conflict within families or friendships
- a death
- a relationship breakup.
The symptoms of clinical depression can sometimes go away if the stress that caused them is fixed or removed. But the symptoms can also be managed or treated by learning and developing helpful coping strategies.
Signs and symptoms of depression
When people experience clinical depression, they often feel:
- unusually sad or down
- hopeless or helpless
- numb or empty
- worthless or guilty when something isn’t really their fault
- like they can’t cope
- restless, slow, like they don’t have energy
- like they can’t get motivated
Other signs that a person may have depression:
- being really critical of themselves
- finding it hard to make decisions
- crying a lot
- withdrawing from friends/family or being really dependent on them
- not feeling hungry or feeling hungry all the time
- not being able to sleep or always sleepy
- headaches, stomach aches
- losing interest in sex
- thinking about death heaps or wanting to die themselves.
Most people experience some of these feelings and behaviours at different times but the difference with depression is that the symptoms can be more severe and they don’t go away over time.
What you can do about depression
There are a range of different ways to treat the symptoms of clinical depression. Treatments for clinical depression include:
Sometimes one particular treatment will successfully treat a person and at other times using both physical and psychological treatments will be more successful. It really depends on the personality of the individual and the cause of their depression.
Diagnosing clinical depression can be a little bit tricky but it’s a treatable condition. If you think you’re experiencing symptoms of depression it’s worth visiting your GP for a consultation. Proper diagnosis and treatment will be much easier if you get professional advice. Your doctors can work with you to create a treatment plan which suits your personal circumstances and experience.