What is depression?


Some people with depression wait a long time before they seek help because they fear that people will think they are 'crazy' or 'weak persons'. It is important to understand that depression is one of the most common emotional problems. It has been shown that 25% of women and 12% of men will suffer a major depressive episode during their lifetime. This means that nearly everyone will either experience depression themselves or have a close relative or friend who will. Depression is problem that can be overcome with appropriate help. It is NOT a statement about your value or strength as a person.


Depression can have a variety of symptoms, such as :


loss of energy

loss of interest in activities and in life

loss of enjoyment in activities one usually enjoys

feeling like it is better to stay away from other people

sadness

crying more or feeling like crying but unable to cry

feeling numb inside

problems sleeping (falling asleep, or waking often at night or early in the morning)

difficulty concentrating

loss of appetite and weight or for some people overeating and weight gain

decrease in interest in intimacy

increased worrying

self-criticism, self-doubt and feelings of guilt

feelings of hopelessness (which can reach the point of feeling that it would be better to be dead)

physical complaints (pain, feeling fatigued, nausea, dizziness etc)

irritability

difficulty making decisions


Depression varies from mild to severe. For example, some people complain of a few symptoms that occur some of the time. Other people, suffering from severe depression, may complain of a large number of symptoms that are frequent, long-lasting, and quite disturbing. Depression can also go together with increased feelings of anxiety.


It would be an unusual person who said that he or she never felt “depressed” or sad. Mood fluctuations are normal. But clinical depression is worse than simple fluctuations in mood because they are longer-lasting and affect how we feel in nearly all situations we encounter. Usually depression occurs in 'episodes' that last for several months. Unfortunately, these epidodes can repeat themselves throughout life.


Treatment


Cognitive-behavioural therapy has been shown in research to treat depression at least as well as antidepressant in the acute episode and to reduce the risk of depression coming back much more than antidepressant medication.



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