Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Coping with mild to moderate Depression

There are a number of things you can do for yourself which can help you cope with mild episodes of depression, or reduce your risk of becoming seriously depressed.

Social Support
Having someone to turn to for support is very important when coping with difficulties. Some people build up a strong network of friends and relatives whom they can talk to, but others may become isolated, particularly if they have no employment or other activity outside the home. People who are already depressed usually find it very difficult to be sociable, and this can make them feel worse. So having someone to support you in a crisis or when things are difficult can reduce your risk of becoming depressed.

Activity & Exercise
If you are physically active or take regular exercise you may benefit from changes in your brain chemicals which affect mood, and from the feeling that you are actively doing something to improve your life. Exercise and activity can also bring important social contact if you are isolated. Outdoor activity seems to be particularly important in staving off depression for older men.

A healthy diet is important in reducing the risk of depression.
In particular, drinking too much alcohol or taking drugs will make you feel worse in the long-term. Some recent research has suggested that people who are depressed may benefit from eating more oily fish, such as sardines, or from taking fish oil supplements, alongside their prescribed medication. However further research into this is needed.

Taking Control
One aspect of depression is the feeling that, whatever you do, you cannot improve your situation. An important step is to find situations or activities where you can feel that you have some control over your life instead of feeling hopeless. Setting yourself small manageable goals can give you a sense of achievement and make you feel better. Older people in particular may feel that they are no longer valued as employees or needed as parents. Helping other people – for example through voluntary work – is one good way of feeling useful and valued.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What causes depression?

There are many possible causes of depression. You may have an increased risk of experiencing depression because of your particular biological make-up. On the other hand, depression is also related to what is happening in your life, and the kind of support you receive from others.

There is some evidence that depression seems to run in families, but there is no single gene which causes depression.
A family history of depression may increase the risk, but this may be because of difficulties the family has in coping, and it certainly does not mean that depression is inevitable.

Changes in the brain
We know that depression is associated with changes in the activity of certain brain chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, which affect our mood and thinking. These chemicals, such as serotonin, are also affected by factors such as activity and exercise.

Childhood experiences
Past experiences which may be difficult or traumatic, such as losing a parent when very young, can affect your ability to cope with difficult situations. Children who experience abuse or lack of affection are also more at risk of experiencing depression in later life.

An episode of depression can be ‘triggered’ by stressful things that happen in our lives, particularly events involving a loss of some kind - such as unemployment, leaving home, death of a family member or friend.

Styles of thinking and coping
People who are depressed tend to think about bad experiences in ways that make them even more difficult to manage. If you have had bad experiences in the past, which you were unable to control, you may develop a ‘hopeless’ way of thinking.
Feeling ‘trapped’ in a difficult situation or experiencing a feeling of humiliation can also lead to negative thinking and depression.

Health & illness
We all tend to feel miserable when we are ill. But long-term health problems, which prevent someone from leading their usual life, may lead to depression.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Kinds of depression

The following are some specific types of depression which have been identified.

Bipolar disorder (Manic depression)
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder means that you have both ‘high’ and ‘low’ mood swings, along with changes in thoughts, emotions and physical health. The mood swings are normally more extreme than everyday ups and downs.

Post-natal Depression
About 10 to 15 per cent of women experience post-natal depression in the first year after having a baby. They may be unusually tearful, anxious or irritable, and may also find it difficult to play with their babies and respond positively to them.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Some people describe feeling depressed regularly at certain times of the year. A key feature of this kind of depression is the desire to sleep more and eat carbohydrate foods. Usually this kind of depression starts in the autumn or winter, when daylight is reduced.

Next Post will be: "What causes depression?"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Depression key symptoms

How do you can decide whether you are responding normally to difficult times, or have become depressed?

Professionals look for the following key symptoms when deciding if you are depressed.

1- Depressed or irritable mood most of the day, nearly every day
2- Loss of interest or pleasure
3- Changes in weight or appetite
4- Sleep problems
5- Agitation
6- Tiredness and loss of energy
7- Feeling guilty or worthless
8- Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
9- Thoughts of death or suicide

You are likely to receive a diagnosis of depression if you experience at least five of these symptoms over a two-week period. However, the most important signs are depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, or a loss of interest or pleasure in things you previously enjoyed.
People have different patterns of depression; for example some people are severely depressed for a relatively short time while others have milder depression over a number of years.

I'll write about kinds of depression in next post, don't miss it.