Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Do I Have Depression?

By Anita Hale

The term, "I feel depressed" is one that we have all uttered at some point in our lives. It's usually because we are feeling particulalry sad or down about something. Our spirits and mood are low. It is only when these feelings persist that "feeling depressed" might crossover into the medical definition of the word depression.

Depression is the most common mental disorder suffered throughout England. According to a survey by The Health & Social Care Information Centre (2009), depression and anxiety is suffered by 9.7 percent of the population. Further evidence has been provided by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) that declares one in ten individuals in Britain suffer from depression.

Anxiety and depression tend to get combined in such research as they share a lot of similar symptoms. In addition, the two seemed to be closely linked to each other in that a depressed individual may experience anxiety. Similarly, someone suffering from an anxiety disorder may experience depression. The way in which depression manifests itself can also pose a problem when it comes to diagnosis. Some symptoms include tiredness, feeling irritable towards others, weight loss, loss of sex drive, getting teary, weight gain and insomnia.

The difficulty in diagnosis stems from the fact that it's perfectly normal to feel some of these things some of the time. With that in mind, how do we know when we need to seek help for depression? The best thing to do is to examine how long you have held any of these symptoms. If you have felt or experienced several of them consistently for two weeks, then it is advisable to book an appointment with your doctor.

There are a number of wide-ranging treatments for depression and the one you get is partially dependent on how your depression has manifested and how severe your symptoms are. There has been talk of a genetic basis to depression, but so far this has only been apparent in manic depression. However, if you have family members who have suffered from depression, you are more likely to suffer from it too.

Additional causes and triggers for depression include the death of a loved one and other stressful changes in one's life, such as the end of a relationship or starting a new job. Links have also been made between poor diet and lack of exercise and depression. Furthermore, some prescribed drugs as well as narcotics can produce symptoms of depression as a side effect.

Your diagnosis should take into account your medical history as well as your present circumstances and health. From here your GP should be able to offer you treatment as befits your depression. In reality, anti-depressants are the most commonly administered form of treatment, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While their effectiveness has been found to be clinically significant when treating more severe forms of depression, there are a number of non-medicated treatments that are gaining popularity in treating more common forms of depression.

Depression can in some cases go away after a short period and for this reason your doctor might prescribe a wait-and-see approach to monitor your symptoms and see if they intensify or improve. Alternatively, psychological treatments include a number of different talking therapies. These can vary greatly in approach from guided self help, which uses books under the guidance of a healthcare worker to cognitive behaviour therapy, which actively focuses on negative behaviour and thoughts and teaches ways to readdress them. Treatment can be offered long-term or short-term as befits your diagnosis. The most important thing when dealing with depression is to know you are not alone and seek professional help should your symptoms persist.

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