What is Depression?
Feeling depressed or down is common and can be a normal reaction to the stress of our everyday lives. When a low mood persists for a month or longer, along with a number of other symptoms, a person may be experiencing depression.
What causes depression?
Depression is thought to arise from a combination of genetic or biological factors, and stressful life events such as illness, major bereavement or break-up of a relationship. Sometimes there is no apparent trigger.
What are the signs?
Signs or symptoms of depression vary between individuals and over time. Common signs include persistent low mood; sadness or emotional 'numbness' ; loss of pleasure in everyday activities; irritability; anxiety; poor concentration; feeling guilty or crying for no apparent reason; changes in eating or sleeping patterns; feelings of hopelessness and thoughts of death. If a number of these symptoms have been present for a month or longer, the person may have depression.
How common is depression?
Up to one in five women and one in 10 men will become depressed at some point in their lives.
How is it treated?
There is a range of treatments that have been proven to work. Different types of depression require different treatments. With treatment, most people will have a complete recovery and return to their usual activities and relationships.
Looking for information is a good first step. Some self-help strategies have been found to be very effective for mild to moderate depression. These include physical activity, Yoga, Mindfulness meditation, reducing the consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs, and proactively dealing with stress and sleep problems.
Treatment of most serious depression can also include counselling and/or an antidepressant medication. If you are concerned about being depressed, you can call the depression helpline on 0800 111 757 or talk to a trusted family member or friend, your family doctor, or a counsellor.
How can I help someone else with depression?
See yourself as part of their support team, and try not to take things personally or see the person as being 'difficult'. Try and find helpful information on their behalf as well as reassuring the person that the depression will lift in time. Take any thoughts of suicide seriously - it's okay to talk about it. Don't leave someone alone if they feel unsafe: contact a health care provider or a crisis phone line to get encouragement and support for the person. Below are methods of contacting organizations regarding depression.