Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.
Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide. When mild, people can be treated without medicines but when depression is moderate or severe they may need medication and professional talking treatments.
Depression is a disorder that can be reliably diagnosed and treated by non-specialists as part of primary health care. Specialist care is needed for a small proportion of individuals with complicated depression or those who do not respond to first-line treatments.
Depression: What you should know
If you think you, or someone you know, might be suffering from depression, read on.
What is depression?
- Depression is an illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks.
- In addition, people with depression normally have several of the following: a loss of energy; a change in appetite; sleeping more or less; anxiety; reduced concentration; indecisiveness; restlessness; feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or hopelessness; and thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
- Something that can happen to anybody.
- Not a sign of weakness.
- Treatable, with talking therapies or antidepressant medication or a combination of these.
What you can do if you think you are depressed
- Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. Most people feel better after talking to someone who cares about them.
- Seek professional help. Your local health-care worker or doctor is a good place to start.
- Remember that with the right help, you can get better.
- Keep up with activities that you used to enjoy when you were well.
- Stay connected. Keep in contact with family and friends.
- Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a short walk.
- Stick to regular eating and sleeping habits.
- Accept that you might have depression and adjust your expectations. You may not be able to accomplish as much as you do usually.
- Avoid or restrict alcohol intake and refrain from using illicit drugs; they can worsen depression.
- If you feel suicidal, contact someone for help immediately.
Remember: Depression can be treated. If you think you have depression, seek help.