Many people suffer from depression at some stage in their lives. Some seek help, many others do not and suffer needlessly. Here are a few tips to help if you may be feeling a little down and a few warning signs.Depression is one of the most debilitating and common mental illnesses we have to deal with. Unfortunately because its onset can be so surreptitious, and because it can go undetected for so long, a large proportion of sufferers do not access depression treatmentat all. Although as a society we are much better at talking about mental illnesses in the UK, and we are more aware of the symptoms of depression, it is still quite a taboo subject, so it is rarely discussed openly. Perhaps more importantly – especially for men - it is seen as a weakness so the depressive continues to struggle without support. Eventually the affected behaviour becomes the norm and the illness itself is not confronted.
There are two types of depression. Reactive depression is feeling sad and depressed and is often a normal reaction to a stressful life situation. For example, it is normal to feel down after a major disappointment, or to have trouble sleeping or eating after a difficult relationship break-up. Usually, within a few days, perhaps after talking to a friend, we start to feel like ourselves again. Clinical depression can last for months, affect daily functioning, cause the sufferer to lose interest in life, and even contemplate suicide.
No-one can prevent the traumas that cause depressive reaction but we can confront some of the factors that contribute to its development from reactive to chronic depression.
Stress is an unavoidable part of life and it is also one of the major triggers for depression. We may not be able to have a stress free life but we can learn mechanisms to cope with its effects. So be aware of what is likely to cause you stress so you can prepare beforehand. Don’t go it alone, ask for support – this is not a weakness –it is a strength. If you feel stressed don’t bottle it up – get into the habit of confiding in a friend. Understand the difference between worrying and confronting a situation. The former only creates a vicious cycle and makes the stress worse.
Lack of sleep contributes to a lack of coherence in brain waves. This can often lead to depression. Sleeping during the day and staying up late also interferes with the body’s natural rhythms. This can lead to a sense of depression. Sleep is a vital part of preventing the symptoms of depression. Balance your life with enough rest and exercise everyday. Most people require seven to eight hours of sleep per day.
Drink and drugs
Drugs release dopamine in the pleasure center of the brain. However, drugs can increase dopamine release anywhere from four to ten times. This unnatural high eventually wears off and with the tolerance effect almost certainly leads to depression after the high goes away. Substance misuse and using drugs to self-medicate is the surest way to creating a vicious circle of depressive mood swings.