It’s natural to feel down sometimes as life’s trials and tribulations wash over you, but if that low mood lingers day after day, it could signal that you might be suffering from depression.
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behaviour, feelings and sense of well-being. People with depressed mood can feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable or restless. They may lose interest in activities that were once pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details or making decisions, and may contemplate, attempt or commit suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, aches, pains, digestive problems or reduced energy may also be present.
So what are the signs:
Emotional – The primary symptoms of depression are a sad mood and / or a loss of interest in life. Activities that were once pleasurable lose their appeal. You might also be haunted by a sense of guilt or worthlessness, lack of hope, and recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
Physical – Fatigue and decreased energy, Insomnia, especially early-morning waking, Excessive sleep, Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment. It can also make other health problems feel worse, particularly chronic pain.
Appetite – Changes in eating or weight are another hallmark of depression. Some people develop increased appetite, whilst others lose their appetite altogether. Depressed people may experience serious weight loss or weight gain.
Suicide – People who are depressed are more likely to attempt suicide. Warning signs include talking about death or suicide, threatening to hurt people, or engaging in aggressive or risky behaviour that threatens their safety deliberately
What causes it? The experts, doctors, physiologists etc, aren’t sure what causes depression, but a popular theory is it caused by altered brain structure and chemical function. Drugs that treat depression are believed to improve communication between nerve cells, making them run more normally. Experts also think that while stress can trigger depression, one must first be biologically prone to develop the disorder. Other triggers could include certain medications, alcohol or substance abuse, hormonal changes, or even the season such as the seasonal affective disorder or SAD.
Is there a test for it? As of yet, there is no medical test for depression. To make an accurate diagnosis, doctors rely on a patient’s description of the symptoms.
Can you catch it? No, but you can get influenced by people that do have it, friends, loved ones, or family.
Treatments for Depression including: Talking therapies, medication, exercise, light[ in the case of SAD], or even pets.
The latest thinking is that Mindfulness can help deal with general depression. Hence the growth in the MBSR – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programme.
For people like me that have come to Mindfulness, stress is reduced and life seems fuller and more pleasurable. Go on give it try. What have you got to loose..