What is Depression?
Depression is a common mood disorder that negatively affects how we think, feel and behave.
It is a complex disorder that affects each person differently. It causes a negative shift in mood, which becomes intense and lasts for a prolonged period of time. This mood shift significantly interferes with our ability to function in daily life or to find enjoyment or pleasure in anything.
Depression not only affects our mood but also the way we view ourselves and the way we understand and relate to everything around us.
Also known as ‘clinical depression’ or ‘depressive disorder’, the two most common forms of depression are:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD)
- Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)
Depression is much more than just a low mood. Everyone experiences stress, anxiety and low mood sometimes, especially during tough times like the death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship. These are natural reactions to loss, disappointment and other challenging life events. While these feelings share some of the same features as depression, they are not the same. Unlike depression, these feelings will eventually pass and don’t affect our ability to function in daily life.
Depression can lead to a number of mental, emotional, physical and behavioural problems if left untreated, including substance abuse – frequently used as a way of ‘escaping’ unpleasant symptoms.
Depression is one of the most treatable mental health disorders, with a very high success rate for a full recovery. It is important to seek professional help to get the treatment needed to recover and get back to enjoying a full life.
What are the Different Types of Depression?
There are many types of depression, which might be triggered by a unique set of circumstances or appear to have no apparent trigger at all. Depression can affect anyone at any time, and different types include:
- Major depressive disorder (MDD)
- Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Antenatal and postnatal depression
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Bipolar disorder
- Psychotic depression
- Situational depression
All types of depression are treatable, and there is no need to suffer in silence or to try to manage the symptoms alone. There are specific treatment programmes available to address every type of depression. Most programmes will include a combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes, designed to meet each individual’s specific needs.
What are the Causes of Depression?
There is ongoing research into the causes of depression, which currently suggests there is no single cause. Depression is not simply the result of a ‘chemical imbalance’. It usually results from a combination of factors and can have many different triggers, including:
- Female sex hormones
- Brain chemistry imbalances
- Medical illness
- Substance use
- Stressful life events
Depression is an extremely complex disease, for which there are many possible causes. It is now understood that several of these causes need to interact in order to bring on depression and that no two people will be affected in the same way.
What are the Common Symptoms of Depression?
Depression affects different people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. These symptoms can vary from very mild to severe and include:
- decreased energy and / or increased fatigue
- a variety of aches and pains, without obvious cause and / or do not respond to treatment
- upset stomach, digestive problems
- sleep problems – insomnia or oversleeping
- changes in appetite – along with weight changes.
- thinking we are a failure – low self-esteem
- persistent anxious / worried thoughts
- difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating or making decisions
- thinking negatively – pessimism
- loss of perspective – thoughts of death or suicide.
- feeling of worthlessness or guilt
- restlessness and irritability – sometimes anger
- loss of interest in normal activities – feeling that everything is hopeless
- feeling unhappy / sad / tearful frequently
- uncontrollable emotions – mood swings for no obvious reason.
- avoiding social events and activities, we usually enjoy – becoming isolated
- not able to meet responsibilities at work and / or at home
- neglecting hobbies and interests – lacking motivation
- escapist or risky behaviours, such as misuse of alcohol or drugs
- self-harming or suicidal behaviour.
Some medical conditions can mimic the symptoms of depression – such as thyroid problems, brain tumours and vitamin deficiencies – so it is important to rule out such medical causes first.
It is important to remember that we all experience some of these symptoms from time to time. Symptoms must be present persistently, over a prolonged period of time, for a diagnosis of depression to be made.
Can Depression be Treated?
Depression is one of the most treatable mental health disorders, and there is a range of effective treatments that can help us to recover and stay well.
The best treatment programme will be based on the type of depression and whether it is mild, moderate or severe. Programmes will usually be a combination of treatments designed to meet each individual’s needs, including:
A number of ‘talking therapies’ are often used, as they can teach us new ways of thinking and behaving, and change habits that may be contributing to our depression.
There are many therapies that can be used effectively to treat depression, including:
- Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
- Mindfulness-Based Therapy
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
- Psychodynamic Therapy
- Interpersonal Therapy.
The main medical treatment for depression is antidepressants. These can work well in the treatment of depression, although they can take 2-4 weeks to begin working. There may be side effects, so it’s important when we first start taking them to be under medical supervision.
For more severe forms of depression, a combination of mood stabilisers, anti-psychotics and antidepressants may be needed.
Through psychotherapy, we can gain a better understanding of ourselves and what causes us to feel depressed. We also learn healthy coping strategies and examine ways in which we can help ourselves after treatment, including lifestyle changes. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, good sleep, avoiding self-medication, relaxation training and attending self-help groups can all be highly beneficial to our long-term recovery and to maintaining our mental and physical wellbeing.
There is no one proven way that people recover from depression – everyone is different. The important thing is to know that all types of depression are treatable – and with professional support, we can find the right treatment plan to meet our individual needs.
Depression Treatment at White River Manor
At White River Manor, we provide a holistic treatment programme for depression disorders, which is shaped around your personal preferences and therapeutic needs and addresses any co-occurring conditions.
Using a combination of traditional methods, ancient philosophy and cutting-edge science, the team at White River Manor treats the whole person and not just the depression, ensuring deep transformational healing and a full recovery.
We understand that recovery is a lifelong pursuit of positive habit building, maintaining mental wellbeing and avoiding triggers, which is why we also include a complete aftercare plan to support you following treatment.
We will be there to guide and support you, and your loved ones, throughout the whole recovery process.
If you, or someone you know, are struggling with depression, please contact us and take the first step to improve your mental wellbeing and quality of life.
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Our treatment plans are made for you. Contact us today for more information. Your enquiries are treated with the utmost confidentiality and respect.