Most of us feel sad or under the weather from time to time, but depression is much more than that. If you're persistently down for weeks or months on end, it could be that you're clinically depressed. Depression is a real illness with both mental and physical symptoms.
There are many different causes of depression. The important thing is to see your GP if you think you may be living with depression. The great news is that once diagnosed, and with the correct treatment and support, you can escape depression and live a happier life.
What causes depression?
The causes of depression are many. Often, there's no single cause, and many different triggers set off a depressive episode. Those triggers can include stressful events (loss of job/relationship/home), loneliness, illness, and alcohol and drug use. Genetics are also thought to play a part. Some people may be prone to depression if it runs in the family.
What does depression feel like?
Depression symptoms vary widely depending on the severity of the condition, but generally, if you're depressed you'll feel down, sad, hopeless, tearful, anxious, and with little interest in the things you once enjoyed. Physical symptoms of depression include disturbed sleep, lethargy, changes in weight/appetite, and loss of libido. You may have suicidal thoughts or want to harm yourself.
What types of depression are there?
Depression comes in different forms, and there are other conditions where depression is an acute symptom. For example, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a seasonal depression usually related to winter and lack of sunlight. Postnatal depression occurs in some women after giving birth. Finally, bipolar disorder includes deep depressions coupled with excessively high moods (mania).
How to fight depression?
Treating depression will depend on the severity and type of depression you have. However, it usually involves a combination of talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), medication and self-help. Regular exercise, practising mindfulness and meditation, and eating a healthy diet are some of the ways you can fight depression naturally.