Symptoms of depression
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the UK, Depression can affect people differently depending on their age, gender, personality traits and cultural background. Depression is associated with an overwhelming feeling of sadness or loss of interest in everyday activities. But depression can be so much more than just that.
If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
- constant feelings of sadness
- changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- difficulty concentrating
- loss of interest and enthusiasm for things which used to provide pleasure
- feelings of deep, unwarranted guilt
- physical symptoms, such as headaches or body aches that do not have a specific cause
- feelings of worthlessness
- constant thoughts about death
- suicidal thoughts or actions
Depression is not the feeling of sadness
One of the most important distinctions between sadness and full-blown depression is the broadness of its effects on the body and mind.
Sadness is a normal reaction to a 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. In these cases, feelings of sadness go away quickly and you can go about your daily life. Those who are faced with sadness describe themselves as being depressed.
Depression is a mental illness that affects your mood, the way you understand yourself, and the way you understand and relate to things around you. It can also go by different names, such as clinical depression, major depressive disorder, or major depression.
Depression causes problems with regard to a person’s functioning. And the symptoms of depression typically last at least two weeks or longer. Sadness is one the symptoms of depression, but with depression, you have more than just sadness.
Treatment for depression
The best treatment is a combination of psychotherapy and medication and self-help techniques.
Antidepressants balance the chemicals in your brain. They raise levels of the hormone serotonin to lift your mood, help you sleep and make you feel less irritable.
Dysthymia can be treated with various types of antidepressants, including:
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft)
- tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and amoxapine (Asendin)
- serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), such as desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) and duloxetine (Cymbalta)
You may need to try different medications and dosages to find an effective solution for you. This requires patience, as many medications take several weeks to take full effect.
Talk to your doctor if you continue to have concerns about your medication. Your doctor may suggest making a change in dosage or medication. Never stop taking your medication as directed without speaking to your doctor first. Stopping treatment suddenly or missing several doses may cause withdrawal-like symptoms and make depressive symptoms worse.
Psychotherapy will usually include emotional support and education about depression. Cognitive behavioral therapy is designed to examine and help correct faulty, self-critical thought patterns. Psychodynamic, insight-oriented or interpersonal psychotherapy can help a person sort out conflicts in important relationships or explore the history behind the symptoms.
Self-help and alternative therapies that may be useful for depression include:
- St John’s wort
- massage therapy
- meditation and mindfulness.
It’s good to remember that different types of depression respond to different kinds of treatments.