Depression is an illness that causes significant sadness, irritability or loss of interest in everyday activities. It can affect a person’s work, sleep and family life. If left untreated, depression can lead to serious problems and even suicide.
Some people are more likely to get depressed than others. This may be due to genetics or a combination of factors. It also depends on how a person’s environment or other factors interact with their mood.
Stressful events can trigger depression. This includes major losses such as losing a job or a relationship breaking down, but also chronic minor stressors such as work demands or money problems. It is also possible to become depressed during times of change and uncertainty, such as when starting a new job or moving home.
The risk of developing depression is higher if you have a family history of depression, or if your mood has been affected by other mental health conditions. It is also common for people to develop depression if they are experiencing life-threatening illnesses or have had serious accidents, such as car crashes or heart attacks.
Brain changes in people with depression are also thought to play a role. Some studies have found that the frontal lobe of the brain becomes less active in depressed people. These changes are similar to changes seen in people with other disorders that can mimic depression, such as a mood disorder called bipolar disorder or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Certain medical conditions and some medications can cause depression symptoms. This is because they can interfere with the way your body’s natural chemicals work. It is important to let your doctor know if you have other medical conditions or use medication.
Depression can be treated with medicines, psychotherapy and sometimes a combination of both. You should try to stick with your treatment plan and be open about your condition, so that your doctor can recommend the best course of action for you.
Choosing the right therapist
The right therapist will help you manage your depression. They will also help you understand your feelings and learn skills to cope with them. Ask friends and family for recommendations or check the Yellow Pages for therapists in your area.
A good therapist is someone who will be nonjudgmental and give you space to talk about your issues. They should also offer support and encouragement.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be helpful in managing depression. This involves identifying and changing negative thoughts about yourself and your circumstances. It can be done through individual or group sessions, and is often used in conjunction with other treatments such as antidepressants.
Self-help programmes can also be effective. Your GP might recommend that you use a book like Beating the Blues or a computer-based programme such as Beating the Depression.
Physical activity is also beneficial for people with depression. You can improve your mood and reduce symptoms through regular exercise, such as walking or swimming.
There are a number of research studies to explore the effects of different types of exercise on people with depression.