What is depression?
Depression is a low mood that lasts for weeks or months and affects your daily life.
Symptoms of depression include feeling unhappy or hopeless, low self-esteem and finding no pleasure in things you usually enjoy.
Treatment for depression usually involves a combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medicines.
Many things can cause depression such as stressful events, personality, family history and giving birth.
Are there different types of depression?
- There are many different types of depression
- Clinical depression
- Depressive Episode
- Recurrent Depressive Disorder
- Reactive Depression
- Manic Depression
- Psychotic Depression
- Prenatal or Postnatal Depression
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
What is Clinical Depression?
Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.
What is a Depressive Episode?
The definition of a depressive episode is a period of depression that persists for at least two weeks. During a depressive episode, a person will typically experience low or depressed mood and/or loss of interest in most activities, as well as a number of other symptoms of depression, such as tiredness, changes in appetite, feelings of worthlessness and recurrent thoughts of death. The length of a depressive episode varies, but the average duration is thought to be six to eight months.
What is Recurrent Depressive Disorder?
Recurrent depressive disorder is a type of clinical depression. Rather than having one episode of depression, whether short or long, a person with recurrent depressive disorder will experience additional episodes of depression after periods of time without symptoms. These episodes can be considered as mild, moderate, or severe and with or without psychosis, depending on the number of symptoms and how much these symptoms impact an individual’s life.
What is Dysthymia?
Dysthymia is a milder, but long-lasting form of depression. It’s also called persistent depressive disorder. People with this condition may also have bouts of major depression at times.
What is Cyclothymia?
If you have cyclothymia, you’ll have periods of feeling low followed by periods of extreme happiness and excitement (called hypomania) when you do not need much sleep and feel that you have a lot of energy. The periods of low mood do not last long enough and are not severe enough to be diagnosed as clinical depression.
What is Manic Depression?
Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behaviour and the ability to think clearly.
What is Psychotic Depression?
Major depression on its own is debilitating and scary. But in some individuals, it occurs along with psychosis, a transient mental state characterized by abnormal perceptions that may include delusions and hallucinations. When psychosis accompanies major depression, it’s called psychotic depression or depression with psychosis.
What is Prenatal or Postnatal Depression?
Depression during pregnancy is called antenatal or prenatal depression. Postnatal depression—depression after the birth of your baby—may be the term more people are familiar with, but what is less commonly recognized is that expectant mums can experience depression during pregnancy too.
Like depression at other times, depression during pregnancy is an illness—one that can be treated with the right support and care. It’s more serious than feeling a bit low, worried or unhappy for a few days, with negative emotions and depressive symptoms that can last for weeks or months.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. These symptoms often resolve during the spring and summer months. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer and resolves during the fall or winter months.
What is Clinical Depression?
Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression. Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.
How is Clinical Depression Treated?
The following treatments are for moderate to severe depression.
Antidepressants are tablets that treat the symptoms of depression. There are almost 30 different types of antidepressant. Your GP will prescribe these.
Your GP may refer you to talking therapy for moderate to severe depression.
Your GP may recommend that you take a course of antidepressants plus talking therapy.
For moderate to severe depression, an antidepressant and CBT usually works better than 1 treatment on its own.
What is the treatment for a Depressive Episode?
Depressive episodes are treatable and many mental health providers are trained to help. About 80% to 90% of people respond well to treatment.
The most common treatment for depression is talk therapy (like cognitive behavioural therapy or CBT), medication (antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications), behavioural health changes (like exercise), and sometimes a combination of all three.
What is the treatment for Recurrent Depressive Disorder?
Medication such as antidepressants is often prescribed to individuals suffering from recurrent depressive disorder.
Antidepressants essentially provide greater levels of serotonin to the brain. In turn, moods are stabilised, and recipients find that their happiness and self-esteem increases.
In addition to prescribing medication, should it be needed, one-to-one therapy is a suitable form of treatment for recurrent depressive disorder.
While the therapy an individual encounters for recurrent depressive disorder will be dependent upon various factors, cognitive behavioural therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy, stress management and neuro-linguistic programming is typically administered.
Each of the therapies noted above will enable you to understand and appreciate the factors that cause you to experience recurrent depressive episodes.
In turn, you will have the opportunity to consider and take advantage of coping strategies to help you adopt positive and optimistic outlooks on any issues you encounter.
Group therapy has also proven to be highly beneficial when considering recurrent depressive disorder treatment.
This is because group therapy provides an opportunity to meet with others who also require recurrent depressive disorder treatment.
What is the treatment for Reactive Depression?
Since there is no formal diagnosis for reactive depression, people who seek help will be treated in the same way as someone dealing with other forms of depression, like major depressive disorder. The frontline treatment is therapy, but sometimes medication is recommended as well.
What is the treatment for Dysthymia?
The best treatment for dysthymia appears to be a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
What is the treatment for Cyclothymia?
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
A common treatment for cyclothymia, CBT focuses on identifying unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviours and replacing them with healthy, positive ones. CBT can help identify what triggers your symptoms.
What is the treatment for Manic Depression?
If a person is not treated, episodes of bipolar-related mania can last for between 3 and 6 months.
Episodes of depression tend to last longer, often 6 to 12 months.
But with effective treatment, episodes usually improve within about 3 months.
Most people with bipolar disorder can be treated using a combination of different treatments.
What is the treatment for Psychotic Depression?
Usually, treatment for psychotic depression is given in a hospital setting. That way, the patient has close monitoring by mental health professionals. Different medications are used to stabilize the person’s mood, typically including combinations of antidepressants and antipsychotic medications.
Antipsychotic drugs affect neurotransmitters that allow communication between nerve cells in areas of the brain that regulate our ability to perceive and organize information about the world around us. There are a number of antipsychotic, or neuroleptic, medications commonly used today.
What is the treatment for Prenatal or Postnatal Depression?
The methods used to treat perinatal depression are the same ones used for other types of depression. The good news is that success rates are typically much higher for perinatal depression. Between 80 and 90 percent of pregnant women and new moms are helped by medications, talk therapy, or a combination of drugs and talk therapy.
Antidepressant drugs are the most common treatment for perinatal depression. Doctors especially prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). You and your doctor may talk about taking an antidepressant while you’re pregnancy, after your child’s born, or both.
What is the treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder?
The treatments for “winter depression” and “summer depression” often differ, and may include any, or a combination, of the following:
- Exposure to sunlight.
Spending time outside or near a window can help relieve symptoms.
- Light therapy.
If increasing sunlight is not possible, exposure to a special light for a specific amount of time each day may help.
Cognitive-behavioural or interpersonal therapy helps change the distorted views you may have of yourself and the environment around you. It can help you improve interpersonal relationship skills, and identifying things that cause you stress as well as how to manage them.
These prescription medicines can help correct the chemical imbalance that may lead to SAD.
Is there a link between smoking and depression?
The study, published November 6, 2019, in the journal Psychological Medicine, found that smokers had nearly double the risk of developing depression or schizophrenia compared with people who didn’t. “It is a very commonly held belief that individuals with mental illness smoke in order to ‘self-medicate.’
Is there a healthier alternative to smoking?
Using e-cigarettes to stop smoking
In recent years, e-cigarettes have become a very popular stop smoking aid in the UK.
Also known as vapes or e-cigs, they’re far less harmful than cigarettes, and can help you quit smoking for good.
They are not recommended for non-smokers and cannot be sold to people under 18 years old.
Tobacco Harm Reduction using e-cigarettes like Elf Bar or Geek Bar gives you the best chance to quit the dealdy habit.
Trying to beat depression?
Small daily efforts can be more effective than sweeping changes.
Depression isn’t something you’re able to turn off like a switch. It doesn’t go away just because someone tells you to “toughen up” or because you had a moment of laughter during the day.
When you live with depression, you know it often isn’t about the big moments in life. Sometimes, it’s all those quiet minutes of the day no one else sees.
When these moments feel like an eternity, there are ways you can loosen the hold depression has on daily life.
Ways to beat depression for the long term
Beating depression and coping with depression aren’t the same. While there are many daily tips and tricks to cope with depression, “beating” depression implies a long-term resolution of symptoms.
Based on the volumes of research behind depression causes, daily goals may have the most beneficial impact if they:
Promote a sense of meaning, accomplishment, or mastery
Increase the frequency of positive emotions
Help you identify self-defeating or unhelpful thought patterns and behaviours
Keeping these criteria in mind, you can start to develop some daily routines to help you beat depression.
As you can see there exist many types of depression ranging from mild, moderate to severe and how you treat it. It’s important to consult with your GP or Health Worker if you are finding things difficult or hard to cope.
Reaching out for help may feel difficult to do, you may feel embarrassed or ashamed nut let me tell you depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders, affecting around 1 in 6 adults in the UK. It is also associated with other mental health issues, such as anxiety, stress and loneliness.
Research shows that women are twice as likely to experience depression than men. However, 15% of women receive treatment for depression, compared to only 9% of men.
This figure may be inflated because men are less likely to seek help and is why there is a higher suicide rate amongst men.
In 2021, the rate of suicides among males was 16 per 100,000 of the population and among females it was 5.4 per 100,000. The rate of suicide has slightly decreased for both genders since the beginning of given time period of the statistic, although recent years have seen an increase again for both men and women. However, the rate of suicide for men has remained significantly higher than for women.
There still exists a stigma around depression and this is more prevalent in men. Terms like “Man Up” or “Cheer up” are the most unhelpful things you can say to anyone.
Recently more focus has been put on men’s mental health but there is still a long way to go. Men are less likely to talk to a friend about it and less likely to seek help. More work needs to be done to change this attitude or they will self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to blunt the feelings but eventually this will increase their problems. It’s important to point out this is not exclusively a problem for men only.
Did you know alcohol is a depressive?
Drinking heavily and regularly is associated with depression.
If you drink more than the UK Chief Medical Officers low risk drinking guidelines (it’s safest to drink no more than 14 units a week, spread over three or more days with several drink-free days, and no bingeing) it can have a negative effect on your brain chemistry, and lead to worse mental health.
Alcohol slows down processes in your brain and central nervous system, and can initially make you feel less inhibited. In the short-term, you might feel more relaxed – but these effects wear off quickly.
The more you drink the greater your tolerance for alcohol, meaning you need to drink more alcohol to get the same feeling. If you rely on alcohol to mask feelings of depression, you may find you become reliant on it – putting you at risk of alcohol dependence. For some people alcohol can be a trigger for suicidal thoughts too.
Some self-help tips if you’re moderately depressed
Even when you have the feeling that you’re unable to or have very little energy, see if you’d be willing to do the opposite of what your mood is telling you to do, such as curling up in bed. Instead, set a small goal for yourself, such as taking a walk around the block.
According to science, music is processed in every area of the brain and seems to have the ability to stimulate areas of the brain that may not otherwise be accessible. Music appears to enhance and strengthen the brain, allowing for greater efficiency in cognition, communication, and use of motor skills.
Find a hobby
“When you have a hobby, there’s another part of yourself that uses different skillsets and gives you a different identity.”
Hobbies also give us a sense that it’s okay to fail – there’s no pressure to get it right, unlike in other parts of life. Plus, you feel good as you start learning and improving.
Spend time in nature
Whether it’s in a forest, field, garden, tree lined avenue, or plant-filled corner of your home, spending just two hours a week with nature is enough improve our mental and physical health.
Write a journal
Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by: Helping you prioritise problems, fears, and concerns. Tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them.
Read a book
“Reading can even relax your body by lowering your heart rate and easing the tension in your muscles. A 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%.”
More help about depression can be found here:
The best advice you can give anyone is to be kind to yourself. There are many ways you can do this, more information can be found here;
I’ll finish with my favourite saying, “Tough times do not last, tough people do.”