Depression is very common – it is thought that one in five people in Ireland will develop depression during their lifetime. So chances are that you may know someone who has been affected by depression.

 

Everyone can feel a bit ‘down’ from time to time. In many people, this unhappiness is a reaction to an upsetting event (a death of loved one or other event) and they will start to feel better after a few days or weeks. It is a natural, short-lived response to stressful times in life.

 

However, some people are unable to escape this low mood, and find it difficult to carry on with life as usual. They may experience long-lasting feelings of sadness and hopelessness, have unexplained aches and pains, suffer from poor sleep, anxiety, and/or lack of interest and energy. If this is the case, the person may be affected by what is called ‘clinical’ depression which is a treatable condition.

 

Depression affects different people in different ways – not everyone has the same symptoms. It is important to seek professional help if symptoms have been present for more than two weeks or if you have thoughts of self harm or suicide.

 

Main symptoms

 

  • Low/sad, irritable or indifferent mood
  • Loss of interest and enjoyment in daily life
  • Lack of energy

 

Physical symptoms

 

  • Fatigue and reduced activity
  • Disturbed sleep or excessive sleep
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Unexplained aches and pains e.g. headache, backache
  • Changes to the menstrual cycle

 

Other symptoms

 

  • Poor concentration or reduced attention
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Tearfulness
  • Restlessness, agitation or anxiety
  • Low self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Inability to cope with life as before
  • Avoiding other people
  • Bleak view of the future
  • Morbid thoughts, ideas of self-harm

 

Treatment is available and recovery is possible. Treatment often involves a combination of different therapies such as medication, psychological therapies, social support, and self-help techniques. This combined approach treats the person as a whole, and marks the beginning of the journey back to wellness and a normal life.