Depression is a mental health condition which can affect thinking, energy, feelings and behaviour. It can vary from mild to severe and can have a profound impact, affecting every aspect of the individual, their relationships, family and work life.
Depression is a very common condition which affects 1 in 10 people at any one time, 450,000 people in Ireland alone. Any one of us, irrespective of age, gender or background can be affected. Recovery is possible, early recognition and ongoing support are key to a positive outcome.
It is possible to minimise the impact of depression by accessing information and support, and finding ways to manage the condition.
At Aware we describe depression as having eight main symptoms. If you experience five or more of these symptoms, lasting for a period of two weeks or more, please speak to your GP or mental health professional. The symptoms of depression are:
- F eeling - sad, anxious, guilty
- E nergy - low energy, feeling tired or fatigued
- S leeping - under or over-sleeping, any change to normal sleep pattern
- T hinking - poor concentration, thoughts slowed down
- I nterest - loss of interest in hobbies, family or social life
- V alue - low self esteem
- A ches - physical aches and pains with no physical basis
- L ife - loss of interest in living, thinking about death, suicidal thoughts
If you think you have depression, Aware recommends that you speak to your GP or a mental health professional. This will help you to get a correct diagnosis and decide which approach to treatment is best for you.
If you believe a loved one may be experiencing depression, we suggest you access our information specifically for relatives here.
Dr Lisa Lawless discusses how you prepare for your consultation, questions to ask your GP, what your GP can do for you, options for treatment/referral and how you can help yourself.
The most important thing to do is speak to a doctor or mental health professional in order to get a correct diagnosis. To find a GP in your area, contact the Irish College of General Practitioners on 01 676 3705.
- There are a number of treatment options available – lifestyle changes, talk therapies, medication or a combination of these
- Exercise can be very beneficial. Exercise releases endorphins in your body which are known to improve your mood
- As sleep is often impacted when mood is low, it is helpful to consider what aids your sleep. Try not to drink tea and coffee late at night as they are stimulants. Consider leaving your electronic devices out of your bedroom. It is helpful to prepare for sleep
- Try to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. A healthy diet produces a healthy body and a healthy mind
- Alcohol is a depressant and can be a potent trigger to low mood, especially in individuals prone to depression. It can also interact dangerously with some medication
- You might find it useful to write down three things you achieved at the end of each day. This can contribute towards building your self-esteem
- Try to focus on what is going well in your life. Even on a bad day, there are good moments in it. Consider keeping a gratitude diary and noting three good things that happen each day
- Above all, do not try to deal with depression on your own. Reach out to family and friends, and use the help and support that is available to you. Keep support line numbers close to hand and consider attending a support group. Talking to someone who understands can bring reassurance and enable you to learn new coping skills
Talking through concerns with someone who understands can also be a help, Aware has a number of free services that offer support and information, find out more here.
Dr Miriam Kennedy, Consultant Psychiatrist discusses depression, how common it is, what is recovery and evidence based studies of non-drug treatments of depression.
Dr Keith Gaynor, Senior Clinical Psychologist, St John of God Hospital discusses "Why perfectionists become depressed." He covers what perfectionism is, common effects of it, examples and the small steps we can take to be happy with the things we achieve.
Dr Katie Baird, Senior Counselling Psychologist & Dr Jennifer Gibson, Senior Clinical Psychologist, St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services discuss the role of self-compassion in recovery from depression
If you would like to do some further reading, please see Aware's Recommended Reading List.