What is depression?

Depression is an illness that can affect people from all backgrounds and at all stages of life. Defined as a feeling of low mood, depression can last for a long time and affect your day-to-day life. Sufferers can have a range of problems, including poor sleep, feeling fatigued and feeling hopeless. They may also struggle with eating, which can result in either eating too much or too little. Levels of depression do vary: some people can feel ‘low’ for long periods of time, while others experience severe episodes and feel as though life is not worth living.

What triggers depression?

Depression is common, with over 1 in 10 experiencing it at some point of their lives. Different life events such as bereavement, losing your job or even having a baby can trigger depression. According to a report published by the World Health Organisation in 2015, approximately four percent of the world's population are sufferers and there doesn’t always have to be a reason to trigger this pernicious mental illness.

Depression image

Treatment for depression

Thankfully, there are multiple treatment options available for depression. These include lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity, therapies including cognitive behavioural therapy and medication. 

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT can be run in either individual or group sessions. It's a way of addressing your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Patients are taught techniques useful for dealing with situations that could lead to depression. Therapists will focus on addressing negative thinking patterns and look to create coping strategies.

Medication for depression

Antidepressants are often prescribed to treat depression. They regulate moods by stimulating or increasing chemicals in the brain linked with boosting moods such as serotonin and noradrenaline.

There are many different types of antidepressants all with similar effects, but the side effects can vary a lot between each treatment. Your GP will discuss with you the potential side effects involved with the different medications.

Physical activity and depression

Many people who suffer from depression will struggle to motivate themselves to engage in physical activity, but activity can offer significant improvements to someone with mild depression.

The reason physical activity helps is that it releases endorphins in the body, which make us feel good and improves our mood.

What type of physical activity should I do?

All types of physical activity will encourage the production of endorphins. So find something you enjoy and can motivate yourself to do. This will also be a great way to meet the recommended guidelines for exercise.

The guidelines suggest that adults undertake 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week. It doesn't have to all be done at once, so 30 minutes five times a week works just as well.

If you want to do something more strenuous, then you can engage in 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise once a week instead.

Exercise on prescription

If you are unsure about being more active because of other medical conditions, have a chat with your GP. They may be able to refer you to a Physical Activity Referral Scheme, such as Healthwise, in your area.

For more impression on depression, please visit www.mind.org.uk

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