What is Depression?

What is Depression?

There is a difference between depression with a little‘d’ – which we all get – and depression with a big ‘D’. Depression with a little ‘d’ is a natural response to having a bad day or hearing sad news. Depression with a big ‘D’ is when your whole energy and concentration is down and you are struggling to focus. It is a mental health condition which affects a person’s thinking, energy, feelings and behaviour. It’s not just having a bad day!

Symptoms of Depression

Depression has eight main symptoms. If you experience five or more of these symptoms, lasting for a period of two weeks or more, you should speak to a GP or mental health professional. The symptoms of depression are:

• Feeling sad, anxious or bored

• Low energy, feeling tired or fatigued

• Under-sleeping or over-sleeping,waking frequently during the night

• Poor concentration, thinking slowed down

• Loss of interest in hobbies, family or social life

• Low self-esteem and feelings of guilt

• Aches and pains with no physical basis, e.g. chest, head or tummy pain  associated with anxiety or stress

• Loss of interest in living, thinking about death, suicidal thoughts

What causes it?

Depression has a number of possible causes. For some people, it happens because of a traumatic life event such as bereavement, relationship breakdown, financial difficulties or bullying. In other situations, the person may have an inherent tendency towards depression, and such genetic factors can be key in the case of bipolar disorder. This mood disorder involves not just periods of depression, but also periods of elation, where the person’s mood is significantly higher than normal. During these periods, a person may have excessive energy with little need for sleep, may have grandiose ideas and may engage in risk-taking behaviour.

What should I do if I think I am depressed?

The most important thing to do is to speak to a doctor or mental health professional in order to get a correct diagnosis. There are a number of treatments for depression, depending on the cause and severity of symptoms and a professional is best placed to decide which, if any, treatment is most appropriate. Accessing reliable information is also vital.

 Taken from Aware.ie 15th July 2012

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