Chances are that at some point during your life either you or someone you know will be affected by depression. Understanding the signs and how to respond to them can therefore be vital so below we have compiled a list of six important facts that can help improve your general understanding of the mental illness.
1) You can’t always tell by looking. It could be your best friend, your boss, a family member or that person who is always the life of the party. People with depression can be highly functioning and adept at concealing their pain from the world and many are often surprised to learn of their problems.
2) Depression is an imbalance of chemistry, not character. So many people are afraid of speaking to someone about their depression because they think it’s a sign of weakness and that people will judge them. It’s important to remember that depression can be a physical or mental illness that may even be caused by a chemical imbalance in our brain and it’s no more a product of our character that diabetes is.
3) Depression changes your brain. Anyone who has ever suffered from depression will confirm that feeling of helplessness. That is because research has revealed that sufferers show an overproduction of a genetic switch. This causes a loss of connections between the brain cells that regulate cognition and emotion which causes the brain to shrink.
4) Depression reduces the memory. Depression interferes with our memories - particularly those related to specific facts such as names and places. It is thought that this could be a result of the fact that those with depression tend to over-generalise which can compromise the ability to differentiate between similar experiences.
5) Exercise has the same effect on the brain as anti-depressants. For mild to moderate depression, research has showed that exercise can help to alleviate symptoms and even protect against future episodes. It can be hard to face joining a gym or a running club during this difficult time but the good news is that even just walking 30 minutes a day can make a significant difference.
6) Support is invaluable. If you have noticed that someone is acting unusual - whether it’s their mood, sleep pattern, appetite or they have become more aggressive, sad, reckless or withdrawn - it’s important to talk to them. Broaching the subject will be difficult because there is no guarantee how open your loved one will be with you. Regardless of whether they reveal all or deny everything however, it’s vital to show your support and patience and let them know that you are there for them when they’re ready.
To learn more about depression check out our Depression Knowledge Centre. If you are worried about yourself or someone you know, please feel free to visit our Depression and Anxiety Treatment Programme page or call us today for more information