Depression - What is it?
Depression is a condition that can take many forms, from the short lived feelings of sadness that most of us suffer in response to disappointments of everyday life, right up to severe depressive disorders, which require treatment. At any one time over 400,000 people in Ireland experience depression.
A depressive illness is an overwhelming feeling which dulls thinking, impairs concentration, saps energy, interest in food, sex, work and everyday activities and disrupts sleep.
Depression - How to Recognise It
The symptoms of DEPRESSION are as follows:
• Feeling - depressed, sad, anxious or bored
• Energy -tired, fatigued, everything an effort, slowed movements
• Sleep - waking during the night or too early in the morning, oversleeping or trouble getting to sleep
• Thinking - slow thinking, poor concentration, forgetful or indecisive
• Interest - loss of interest in food, work, sex and life seems dull
• Value - reduced sense of self-worth, low self-esteem or guilt
• Aches - headaches, chest or other pains without a physical basis
• Live - not wanting to live, suicidal thoughts or thinking of death
What Causes Depression?
Depression is frequently preceded by setbacks in life, such as bereavement, relationship or financial difficulties, problems at work or medical illness. We all react to loss with a sense of disappointment, which in its impact can vary from mild to disabling. An inherited tendency towards depression is a major factor in determining how depressed a person will become following a loss.
Depression - The Different Types
• Reactive Depression: This is an extension of the normal upset feeling following an unhappy event in a person's life, such as the death of a close relative or friend, marriage break-up or loss employment. Typically a sufferer will feel low, anxious and often will be angry or irritable. For some people reactive depression can follow even minor setbacks, as the individual's personality leaves them particularly vulnerable to disappointments.
• Unipolar or Endogenous Depression: While this is primarily a biological or inherited condition, disappointment will often provoke its onset. The typical symptoms are those outlined in the Festival list of symptoms, where there is extreme tiredness, slowed thinking, impaired concentration, waking during the night and tending to feel worse in the early morning.
• Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depressive Illness: The symptoms of the depressed phase of bipolar disorder are identical to those of unipolar depression, but, in addition, there are also episodes of elation or mania with which the depression alternates. Although elation is usually considered a pleasurable experience, it often has a devastating effect on a person's life. Its symptoms are as follows:
• F eeling - elated, enthusiastic, excited, angry, irritable or depressed
• E nergy - great energy, 'never felt as well', over-talkative or over-active
• S leep - reduced need for sleep and marked difficulty in getting off to sleep
• T hinking - racing thoughts, pressure in the head, indecisive, jumping from one topic to another, poor concentration
• I nterest - increased interest in pleasurable activities, new adventures, sex, alcohol, street drugs, religion, music or art
• V alue - excessive and unrealistic belief in one's ability, or having grandiose plans
• A ches - never tiring, being unaware of the physical symptoms of illness such as asthma, having muscle tension at the back of the head or round the shoulders
• L ive - thinking that one can live forever, taking reckless physical risks or, if angry or distressed, feeling suicidal
Depressive and bipolar depressive illnesses are extremely responsive to treatment. Over 80% of the most serious depressions can be quickly helped. Effective psychotherapies (talking treatments) and non-habit forming antidepressant medications enable people to recover from depression and help prevent recurrences. If given proper care, people with depressive and bipolar disorders can achieve recovery and lead productive and enjoyable lives.