What is Depression?
We are used
to talking about feeling “depressed” when we are fed
up and feeling low in mood. However, a formal diagnosis of Depression
suggests much more serious and enduring symptoms, often needing
treatment. In such cases we talk of the sufferer being “clinically
occur after very stressful events, particularly if these involve
loss e.g. a bereavement. It can also occur when there is no actual
trigger. A predisposition to Depression tends to run in some families.
It is now thought that either spontaneously, or in response to a
stress, there are chemical changes in the brain, which lead to Clinical
Depression, which can then go on even after the stressful period
are the symptoms?
present in a number of ways but the following symptoms are important
in making the diagnosis.
There is very
low mood which can fluctuate throughout the day, commonly being
a lot worse in the morning, but which is always there, even when
there appears to be no reason for feeling like it. The sufferer
will usually tend to blame themselves for things that are not their
fault, and they experience loss of confidence and lowering of self-esteem.
There is loss of interest and enjoyment in normal activities. In
severe cases, suicide or acts of self-harm are a risk.
Sleep is affected,
most commonly with a pattern of wakening in the very early hours
and being unable to get back to sleep. Other disturbed sleep patterns
can occur, however, such as excessive sleeping. There is usually
loss of appetite, and often significant weight loss. Alternatively,
there may be comfort eating.
In some cases,
there is preoccupation with worries about ill health, sometimes
with actual symptoms of physical illness such as headaches or stomach
upsets. Other common preoccupations include irrational worries about
In mild to moderate
cases the sufferer will still be in touch with reality, but in severe
cases they can develop psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations.
long does it last?
of a Depressive Episode can vary a great deal, but most will resolve
within two years. Recovery is quicker with appropriate treatment.
However Depression tends to be a recurring condition, with 50-60%
of people suffering a first episode going on to suffer a further
episode. After two episodes, the likelihood of more episodes in
future increases to 70%.
is the treatment?
is usually treated using a combination of anti-depressants and CBT.