What is depression?
We all experience feeling sad or low in mood at times - this is a totally normal response to life’s ups and downs. But depression is more than just feeling sad or fed up for a few days; it is when the feeling persists for weeks, months or even years.
Historically, there has been a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, with some people believing that depression is not a “real” health problem, and that one needs to “snap out of it”. However, depression is a real illness that researchers believe is caused mainly by imbalances in certain chemicals within your brain called neurotransmitters and some experts are even starting to frame depression as a systemic disease. Depression is a very common mental health condition, which is estimated to affect around 5% of adults worldwide. That’s 280 million people. When left untreated, the effects can be devastating with over 700,000 people taking their own lives each year.
Whilst feeling sad, low in mood or even empty are common symptoms of depression, it affects more than just the mood. During a depressive episode people can have difficulty sleeping, have changes to their appetite, find it hard to concentrate and lose interest in relationships and sex. Depression can lead to feeling worthless and hopeless, and in severe cases self-harm and suicide. What people don’t always realise is that depression can also present as a wide range of physical health problems, including excessive tiredness, bowel issues and pain.
Sounding pretty real so far? As you can imagine, all of this can take its toll, and can cause difficulties across all parts of a person’s life, including social relationships, family, work, education, finances and even day-to-day functioning and personal care.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! If people are able to access the appropriate support and care, there are effective treatments available for depression, including lifestyle changes, therapy and medications. The appropriate treatment will depend on the severity of the depression, and personal choice.
There are lots of things that we can do ourselves to improve our mood, and many people with depression can benefit from simple lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating well, and reducing alcohol intake. Importantly, we also know that prevention programmes have been shown to reduce depression. At Evexia we support and guide people through proactive steps to help to strengthen their mental fitness, including stress management, relaxation and coping techniques. Our aim is to keep those minds healthy, with the hopes of preventing deteriorations in mental health. However, this is not in place of medical treatment for mental health conditions. If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, please seek help from a medical professional.