Depression is a very common mental illness. About 10% of the UK population will suffer from depression at any one time (Hale 1997). Depression is more common in women, people who are unemployed, people with a family history of depression, and people who have few supportive friends or relatives. Factors like these make it more likely that you might become depressed compared to people without these risk factors.
Depression is different from short-term emotional distress, anxiety attacks or feeling low, although these can be constituents of depression. Depression is more serious, and is characterised by a persistent feeling of sadness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and reduced energy and activity levels. Other symptoms include reduced concentration and attention, poor self confidence and self esteem, negative thoughts (often centred around guilt, self-blame, worthlessness or hopelessness), disturbed sleep (problems going to sleep or waking earlier than usual), appetite changes (either reduced or increased appetite), tiredness, anxiety, loss of sex drive, and in severe depression, thoughts of self-harm or suicide
For a diagnosis of depression to be made symptoms should be present every day for at least two weeks, and the symptoms must cause at least some difficulty in continuing with ordinary work and social functioning. It is important to point out that depression is often unrelated to personal circumstances.
Most people do recover from depression but some people may experience more than one episode of depression. The good news is that depression is treatable, and there are many effective treatments available. Treatment, either in the form of talking therapy or anti-depressants, helps by speeding up recovery and reducing the chances of becoming depressed again. NICE recommended treatments are as follows:
For mild-moderate depression:
- Guided self help (based on CBT principles)
- Dynamic Interperson Psychotherapy (DIT)
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
For moderate-severe depression:
- A combination of antidepressant medication and talking therapy (from a counsellor, therapist or psychologist)
- Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), for those who have experienced three or more previous episodes.
If you think that you might be experiencing depression, Changing Minds can offer you an assessment and a variety of the above talking therapies from locations throughout Hertfordshire and North West London, including Harrow, Watford, Borehamwood and Berkhamsted. We are also able to offer online assessments and therapy (via Skype).