We can all experience discontent or feel down when problems or misfortunes are prominent in our lives. If we fail at something, we may experience temporary feelings of worthlessness and self-blame; if we are struggling in relationships, we may be visited by guilt, sadness, hopelessness, or a sense of isolation or emptiness.
It is when such feelings persist and when they are accompanied by other changes that we need to take action. Examples of other changes include:
- Sleeping more, or less than usual
- Eating more or less than usual
- Having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Loss of energy, feeling very tired
- Avoiding others
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
When your feelings are accompanied by changes in thoughts, behaviours and body functions, depression may have come to visit and then decided to stay on in your life... as it does in the lives of at least one in 10 people.
There is no one cause of depression, but it is known that once a person has suffered a major depression, it is more likely to happen again. For example, some experience seasonal cycles of depression, particularly in winter. This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.)
Depression is treatable. Up to 80% of those who suffer are helped by the treatment they get, which usually includes psychological counselling and / or medication. Support from family, friends and others can make a big difference, too. It is important not to suffer in silence.