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Depression & Low Mood

What is Depression?

In mild forms, feeling depressed, low in mood, sad or fed up can be considered an almost ‘universal experience’ for most of us. We normally feel sad or fed up when life is stressful or difficult for us, for example, we have to retire from a job we’ve always loved. If feeling low in mood deteriorates and stays with us for longer than two weeks then it may have developed into clinical depression. Symptoms of clinical depression are extreme, intense and can significantly interfere with a person’s ability to live, work, and enjoy their life as they wish to. Symptoms include:

  • A Persistent feeling of low mood or unhappiness

  • A sense worthlessness and inadequacy with a loss of confidence

  • Feelings of guilt, anxiety and irritability

  • Feeling tired, a loss of energy, general aches and pains and little motivation to do things

  • Loss of interest and pleasure in day to day activities

  • Changes in appetite – either eating less or more

  • Sleep disturbance – difficulties getting off to sleep or early morning waking or excessive sleeping

  • Loss of interest in sex or a reduction in sex drive

  • Difficulties in concentrating, making decisions and remembering things

  • A sense of hopelessness and helplessness about the future

  • Difficulties being around people leading to withdrawal and isolating self

  • Thoughts of death and suicide

  • Thoughts become extreme, negative / self-critical and unhelpful

People with depression may not necessarily experience all of these symptoms but the majority of us with depression will have five or six (Royal College of Psychiatrists 2010).

Clinical Depression can occur on its own or in conjunction with other psychological problems, for example anxiety, eating disorders, Obsessive Compulsive DisorderPost Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some people try to “self-medicate” with alcohol and/or illegal or inappropriately used prescription drugs, and can end up having to deal with addiction problems too.

How common is Depression?

Depression is a common condition with studies estimating that two out of three of us will experience an episode of depression in our lifetimes.

Take the test – PHQ- 9

What treatment is available for Depression?

The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), the government body responsible for offering guidance on best practice procedure in healthcare, recommends CBT for the treatment of depression. CBT will involve:

  • Discovering and challenging unhelpful assumptions and beliefs, and developing more helpful and balanced thoughts

  • Identifying and changing aspects of behaviour that may perpetuate or worsen the depression

  • Goal setting

  • Activity scheduling

  • Social skills training

  • Structured problem solving