Depression is a mental disorder marked by altered mood. It is characterised by feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, apathy, fatigue, and anxiety. Although these feelings are normal from time to time, those suffering from depression experience these feelings for weeks, months and years. With depression, normal tasks are harder to complete, those with severe depression may have thoughts of suicide. One in ten people will develop depression in their lifetime. With the right support and treatment, most people make a full recovery.
- Poor appetite or weight loss or weight gain
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
- Low self esteem
- Lack of enjoyment
- Difficulties with concentration and thinking
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicidal ideations.
Sometimes the symptoms of depression are more than feeling down, physical and social symptoms may be visible such as weight loss of gain. People with depression have a reduced quality of life. In extreme cases, it can put them at risk of harming themselves. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.
Events that may trigger depression
Some studies suggest that certain factors increase the chance of people becoming depressed. A family death or a relationship breakdown are stressful and take time to come to terms with such events. Some women develop postnatal depression after giving birth due to the added stress and changes in their life. Drinking alcohol and illegal drugs can lead to depression.
For most people talking to someone and sharing their feelings is an enormous relief. There are also many antidepressant medications available. Evidence suggests that these medicines are effective and are not addictive.
Most people will be treated by their doctor but around 10% or people are referred to a psychiatrist, a qualified doctor who specialises in mental health problems.