Almost 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health condition throughout our lives. Despite the seriousness of conditions such as Depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, many people still do not understand the impact it has on many of our friends, families and colleagues’ lives. The first step to raising awareness about conditions such as Depression is to understand what it is and to challenge many of the misconceptions we have about it.
Depression is a condition that does not need to go untreated. There are a range of tools to support those living with Depression including talking therapy, medication and group support.
The False Stigma of Depression
There is a strong stigma associated with Depression, with many people thinking that it happens due to being ‘weak’ or not being ‘tough enough’. In reality, people living with Depression have often tried to be too strong…but for too long. Imagine that you broke your leg. You would immediately seek the help of a Doctor or visit the nearest hospital. Unfortunately, this often doesn’t happen with mental health conditions. People living with Depression often can’t access, or do not seek support until they become severely unwell. Due to the fact that Depression decreases your levels of motivation, it can be increasingly difficult to get help which only makes it more difficult to recover. It is for this reason why it is so important to recognize some of the common signs of Depression and understand the ways in which you can help someone and support them in overcoming their difficulties.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders which often consists of a persistent feeling of low mood and sadness. Depression is very different to occasionally feeling upset, as the symptoms of Depression include a lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating, loss of appetite and feeling of hopelessness that can last weeks, days, months and years. There can be many causes for Depression, however we know that the condition is not something that is ‘just in your head’. Numerous studies have shown that Depression causes physical changes in the brain. Most notably, people with Depression have underactivity in an area called the ‘Dorsolateral pre-frontal cortex’- this actually means that there are physical changes that the illness causes for the person.
Treating & Managing Depression
The most essential component in overcoming Depression is reducing the negative associations that we have generated as a society. This can be accomplished by speaking more openly about mental health conditions, and not being ashamed that many people are trying their hardest to continue with their work, family and social lives. There is a great quote that states “it’s okay not to be okay… it’s just not okay to stay that way”.
There is a range of support for individuals living with Depression. For some people, engaging in lifestyle changes such as increasing exercise, adopting a healthy diet and eliminating substances such as alcohol can help relieve symptoms. However, to effectively manage Depression, a combination of treatments including talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, alongside medication such as Antidepressants is the best course of action.
Depression is a challenging condition that can affect anyone throughout their lifetime, but with the right support, many individuals make a full recovery. If you feel that you are living with Depression, remember to reach out to a healthcare professional, trusted friend or family member and remember that you are not alone.