What is Depression?

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What is Depression?

Depression is a serious mental health condition and not a sign of weakness; nobody is immune to depression and people can experience it at any point in their lives. Depression is characterised by individuals experiencing such intense and crushing low moods that their ability to function effectively on a daily basis is impaired. These ongoing and debilitating feelings of sadness can lead to a reduction in motivation which can have a profound effect on your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, as well as your behaviour.

It is estimated that around 10% of men and 25% of women will develop depression at some point in their lives. However, instead of women being more susceptible to developing depression, this difference may be due to the fact that women are more likely to seek depression help and treatment than men.

At Priory, we offer bespoke depression treatment programmes for individuals, which are tailored according to their individual needs and requirements. A specialist consultant will oversee your treatment, which will usually include a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and may also include antidepressant medication.

Our holistic approach to depression treatment includes varied exercise programmes as well as a nationwide network of support groups. We also encourage healthy eating and other positive behaviours to promote your long term recovery.

Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.

Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.

Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

Depression Is Different From Sadness or Grief/Bereavement

The death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences for a person to endure. It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations. Those experiencing loss often might describe themselves as being “depressed.”

But being sad is not the same as having depression. The grieving process is natural and unique to each individual and shares some of the same features of depression. Both grief and depression may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from usual activities. They are also different in important ways:

  • In grief, painful feelings come in waves, often intermixed with positive memories of the deceased. In major depression, mood and/or interest (pleasure) are decreased for most of two weeks.
  • In grief, self-esteem is usually maintained. In major depression, feelings of worthlessness and self-loathing are common.
  • For some people, the death of a loved one can bring on major depression. Losing a job or being a victim of a physical assault or a major disaster can lead to depression for some people. When grief and depression co-exist, the grief is more severe and lasts longer than grief without depression. Despite some overlap between grief and depression, they are different. Distinguishing between them can help people get the help, support or treatment they need.

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