Depression is a mental illness, which causes symptoms of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness.
Depression is quite a common condition that can affect people of any age, including children. Depression is a real illness and is certainly not a sign of failure. Unlike feelings of unhappiness that occur due to a particular cause, Depression is persistent and the symptoms interfere with everyday life. It is a chronic condition that may require long-term management or treatment.
Women are twice as likely to experience Depression as men. A family history of Depression increases a person's risk of Depression. Other factors can trigger Depression such as losing your job, isolation, divorce or bereavement (grief). For other people, triggers may include psychological or physical factors such as chronic anxiety, infectious diseases like influenza or glandular fever; having a chronic health problem like multiple sclerosis; or as a side-effect of medical treatments like chemotherapy. Other causes of Depression include drinking excess alcohol, using drugs and some prescription medicines.
Depression can cause you to lose interest in things that you would normally enjoy. Your work, social and family life can be adversely affected. In addition, there are many other symptoms, which can be physical, psychological and social. Common behaviour associated with Depression includes:
• Moodiness that is out of character
• Increased irritability and frustration
• Finding it hard to take minor personal criticisms
• Spending less time with friends and family
• Loss of interest in food, sex, exercise or other pleasurable activities
• Being awake throughout the night
• Increased alcohol and drug use
• Staying home from work or school
• Increased physical health complaints like fatigue or pain
• Being reckless or taking unnecessary risks (e.g. driving fast or dangerously)
• Slowing down of thoughts and actions.
As with all medical conditions consult your Doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Doctors describe and treat Depression according to how severe it is;
Mild Depression has some impact on your daily life. Antidepressants may not be prescribed initially. Your doctor will monitor your progress and may recommend strategies such as an exercise program and a 'talking treatment' such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
Moderate Depression has a significant impact on your daily life. Your doctor may recommend a talking treatment and/or an antidepressant.
Severe Depression makes the activities of daily life nearly impossible. A small proportion of people with severe Depression may have psychotic symptoms. Psychosis involves seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations), feeling everyone is against you (paranoia) and having delusions. Your GP may recommend that you take an antidepressant along with talking therapy. You may also be referred to a mental health team for intensive, specialist treatment.
Nutritional supplements may only be beneficial if dietary intake is inadequate. Always consult your Doctor before commencing supplements, as some may have interactions with other medications.
• St. John's Wort is an effective treatment for mild to moderate Depression. Check with your Pharmacist as St John's Wort has interactions with several prescription medications.
• Omega-3 fatty acids may be useful in treating depression as low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids have been found in people suffering from depression. They are found in fish oils, flaxseed oil and nuts.
• Folic acid (folate) is often deficient in people with Depression.
• Ginkgo can be used to treat depression by increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain. .
Ask your MedAux Pharmacist for advice.
1. Discuss your medications with your Pharmacist. Some medications can cause symptoms very similar to Depression, which can be improved by altering the dosage or changing to a different drug. Never change medications without your Doctor's advice.
2. Ask your Pharmacist if you have any questions regarding the side effects or withdrawal symptoms of anti-depressants.
3. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs, which can interact with anti-depressants.
4. Exercise may be helpful. Your GP may refer you to an exercise scheme with a qualified fitness trainer.
5. Anti-smoking products may help relieve cravings if you are trying to quit. Ask your MedAux Pharmacist about nicotine replacement therapy.
6. Depression can be a very isolating experience. Many people find it helpful to meet with others in a similar situation.