Depression is when you experience periods of low mood that affect your daily life. For people with mild depression, this may mean losing interest in enjoyable activities and a loss of motivation. For people with severe depression, it can cause suicidal thoughts and be a life-threatening condition.
Depression affects everyone differently and can manifest in a wide range of symptoms. One person with depression may live with a completely different set of symptoms than another. There are also several different types of depression, including major depression, postnatal depression, bipolar depression, and seasonal affective disorder.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most common type of depressive disorder. MDD is a medical illness characterised by a period of low mood that lasts more than two weeks and significantly interferes with your daily life.
Common symptoms of clinical depression include:
- feeling sad, upset, or tearful
- feeling restless, agitated, or irritable
- feeling isolated
- low self-esteem
- lack of pleasure in previously enjoyable activities
- hopelessness or emptiness
- loss of interest in sex
- difficulty making decisions or thinking clearly
- suicidal thoughts or ideations
- difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- weight gain or weight loss
- physical pain without a known cause
How Does Depression Impact Your Life?
Depression can have a significant impact on your mental well-being, physical health, work, day-to-day routine, and relationships with loved ones. While depression affects everyone differently, here are some things you might experience.
While depression is a mental illness, it can affect your physical health too. Physical health problems are common symptoms of the condition – in fact, a high percentage of patients with depression seeking primary care only report physical symptoms.
Physical symptoms may include chronic pain – such as joint pain, back pain, and limb pain – tiredness, sleep disturbances, and appetite changes. They can prevent you from enjoying day-to-day life and leave you short of energy to engage in hobbies or responsibilities. Depression may also lead to high blood pressure and increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which may increase the risk of developing heart disease.
As well as leading to physical health problems, depression may also be a complication of chronic illnesses, including chronic pain. In cases of chronic illness like arthritis, depression can, in turn, exacerbate a chronic illness, so seeking treatment for depression is crucial.
Performance at Work
Depressive symptoms can affect your performance and attendance at work. Fatigue, loss of motivation, and difficulties concentrating can all affect your productivity. Because of this, maintaining healthy working cultures that avoid excessive stress – a risk factor for depression – is essential for employees’ long-term well-being and productivity.
Relationships With Loved Ones
Depression can lead to relationship problems with partners, friends, or families. It may cause you to pay less attention to loved ones, react irritably, or lose interest in spending time with family and friends.
While supportive relationships can help a person to recover from depression, the stress and conflict of unhealthy relationships can make depression worse. A mental health professional may recommend couples therapy or family therapy to help build strong and supportive relationships that support your overall well-being.
The fatigue, loss of motivation, and loss of interest in activities can affect your ability to engage in hobbies and other things you enjoy. You may find yourself spending time alone instead of with friends or lacking the energy to try new things or pursue your passions.
What Are the Risk Factors for Developing Depression?
While there is no single cause for depression, several risk factors can make it more likely that you will develop a mental health condition. These include:
- Genetics – inheriting certain genes may make it more likely that you will develop depression.
- Stressful Life Events – Stressful life events like financial difficulties, the breakdown of a relationship, or the death of a loved one can trigger depression.
- Early Life Adversity – Experience of childhood trauma and other early life adversity puts you at increased risk of developing the illness.
- Other Health Conditions – Other mental and physical health conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and chronic pain make developing depression more likely.
- Hormonal Changes – Hormonal changes may cause episodes of depressive symptoms. Some women struggle with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), where their mood is severely affected in the days before their period.
How Can You Treat Depression?
If you are living with depression, you are not alone. There are plenty of help and resources available to support you in managing symptoms and recovering from the condition.
Extensive scientific research into depression, prevention, and treatment has uncovered various evidence-based, effective treatment methods that support long-term recovery. These include medication, psychological therapies, brain stimulation treatments, and self-care practices.
Psychological therapies such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you to identify negative thoughts and behavioural patterns and turn them into positive ones. Cognitive-behavioural therapy focuses on the interactions between thoughts and behaviour, utilising the effect one can have on the other.
For example, your therapist may encourage you to engage in activities you used to enjoy even when you do not want to because these practices can influence your moods and ultimately make the activities enjoyable again. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on the present rather than the past, offering meaningful results in a relatively low number of sessions.
Some doctors and mental health professionals prescribe medications to treat depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly used anti-depressants. However, evidence of their effectiveness is mixed, with some recent research showing no significant link between serotonin levels and depression.
Self-Medication and Self-Care
Practising good self-care alongside professional treatment may help you to manage symptoms of depression. Self-care practices promote overall physical and mental well-being and may include:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Exercising regularly
- Maintaining a regular sleep schedule
- Relaxation exercises like yoga and meditation
- Speaking to friends and family members for emotional support
The NHS website offers self-help resources on how to cope with depression here.
Depression Treatment with The Revoke Programme
The Revoke Programme offers bespoke mental wellness treatment packages on an outpatient basis. Our individualised programs fit around your daily schedule, so you can attend treatment while continuing to balance your home and work responsibilities.
Our expert-led therapy sessions support you to make meaningful changes in real-time, applying and reinforcing new skills in between sessions. You can offer continual feedback to your therapist, who will evaluate and adapt the programme according to your changing needs.
If you’re looking for exceptional, professional treatment in Central London, contact us today for a consultation. We’ll help you become the best version of yourself.