Are you, or is someone close to you, going through a blue patch? Everyone experiences difficult periods in their lives, times where we just want to crawl up in bed and cry or when we wish we could unplug from the world, but if these times are frequent and debilitating, it could be a sign of depression. Here’s what you need to know about depression…

What is depression?

More than just feeling sad or low, depression is a serious illness that can have devastating affects on an individual’s life if not properly treated. You might be surprised to know that one in five of us experience depression at some stage in our lives – and while it can be triggered by a traumatic event, depression can also occur suddenly and without warning.

Symptoms of depression 

If you notice a change in the way you or someone close to you is behaving that lasts for more than two weeks, it could be a warning sign that something is wrong. Following is a list of common symptoms a person with depression may experience:

-Loss of enjoyment in activities you once found fun

-Mood swings and increased irritability/sensitivity to trivial events

-Loss of appetite or over-eating

-Alcohol or drug abuse

-Slowing down of thoughts or actions

-Spending more time alone than usual

-Difficulty sleeping

-Difficulty accepting small personal criticisms

-Difficulty coping with everyday situations and challenges

-Reckless or risky behaviour

-Self harm

-Suicidal thoughts

Unfortunately, people with depression don’t always outwardly show that they may be experiencing difficulties and some people may be able to put on a brave or ‘happy’ face when they are around others, so it’s important to talk to your friends and family and be alert to notice subtle behavioural changes too. There’s no hard and fast formula for diagnosing depression, so if you feel that something is not right, it’s best to speak to a professional.

Who can help?

If you think that you or one of your friends or family may have depression it’s best to speak to your GP. Your GP will be able to give you a thorough assessment and determine if you need further treatment. Your GP can also refer you to a specialist who can work with you to keep your depression under control. While there is no precise ‘cure’ for depression, there are effective steps that you can take to reduce the intensity and frequency of your symptoms.

The most important thing to know is that you are not alone. There are people in your community who have the skills and resources to help you so you don’t have to suffer in silence.

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Do you have any first-hand experience of depression?