Last month we looked at stress and anxiety. The difference between them, causes, effects and help available. This month we are going to briefly look at depression. If you want to know more, please book one of our Mental Health courses. We deliver a half-day Awareness course, a one-day Understanding Mental Health in the Workplace and a two day L3 Mental Health First Aid in the Workplace. There is more information available on the website.

Depression is not just a matter of feeling a bit sad or a little down for a short while. We can all feel like that sometimes and it soon passes. Depression is a debilitating and overwhelming mental health issue. When feelings of despair and the ability to carry out our day-to-day tasks become too difficult to endure, that is depression. Depressive episodes can be one-offs, occasional recurrences or could be a chronic illness that affects the sufferer over many years. However, symptoms and intensity affect each individual and consequently those around them in varying degrees and duration. Each sufferer has a unique experience of both symptoms and length of the episode.

Symptoms can vary in appearance and intensity. They can include no longer wanting to socialise or take part in previously enjoyed activities, not washing or becoming unkempt, no interest in anything or anyone around, loss of appetite, tiredness, and the feeling of total despair. Sometimes these feelings can lead to suicidal thoughts which are where medical intervention is required without delay.

The causes of depression are as varied as the symptoms and experiences. Adverse childhood experiences such as neglect, abuse or trauma could play a part, genetic makeup could provide a historic onset whilst environmental factors such as housing or unemployment could also trigger depression. Bereavement, divorce or other traumatic events may also be causal factors. However, triggers do not necessarily have to be traumatic or upsetting for depression to take hold. Many people develop depression without understanding either the cause or trigger; outsiders can see no reason why someone with everything to live for appears to be so low, disinterested or despondent.

People do recover from depression. Talking therapies and appropriate drug therapies can help enormously. The support from friends, colleagues and family plays a vital part in recovery. The intervention of health professionals will provide the help and guidance required for a successful recovery.
So, if you or someone you know is suffering from depression the first call would be to the doctor’s surgery. That first call or appointment may seem daunting, but it will be well worth it in the end. Don’t suffer in silence talk to someone, someone you trust. You can also help yourself by taking gentle exercise, establishing a regular sleep pattern, eating a well-balanced diet, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake and maybe exploring mindfulness.

Your health and well being are the most important things to you. Look after them.

The NHS provides help and advice for all mental health issues. For more information visit the NHS website.

You are not alone.