Depression is a common problem which can happen to anyone, of any age or social background. It is is estimated to affect approximately 20 percent of the population at some point in their lives. Whilst anyone can feel unhappy or sad for a few days, a person suffering from depression can experience intense feelings of anxiety, negativity, hopelessness and helplessness. These feelings can persist, making it more difficult to cope with everyday life. People with depression can therefore feel isolated and lonely, often finding it difficult to talk to others as they struggle to cope alone.
The following are some of the signs and symptoms of depression
Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem
Sadness that doesn’t go away
Feeling anxious all the time
Tiredness and loss of energy
Avoidance of other people, even close friends
Very strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness
Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting
Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness, which in some cases, may lead to suicidal thoughts
Sleeping problems – difficulty getting off to sleep or waking too early
Loss of appetite
Finding it hard to function at work, college or school
Relating to many of these symptoms, the NHS have devised a survey to help you understand what level of depression you may be experiencing.
Depression can be a very isolating and lonely condition. The first and most important step to take is to talk to somebody. This could be a trusted friend, a member of your family or a professional. Do try not to struggle on alone with your feelings, as this can increase your sense of isolation.
Another important person to talk to is your GP. Your GP sees many people each week with depression and so has the experience to potentially prescribe you some medication to help alleviate your symptoms.
The next helpful measure I would like to mention, relates to a new study from Rutgers University, that reports that a combination of mental and physical – otherwise known as MAP – training, through focused meditation and aerobic exercise can have a significant positive effect on depression. The team found that learning how to focus attention through meditation, combined with the neurobiological benefits of aerobic exercise proved a powerful combination for fighting depression.
Aerobic exercise could be anything from a brisk walk, a bike ride, swimming, a trip to the gym or any other form of physical activity that you enjoy, that raises your heart beat .
The researchers found that the combination of meditation and aerobic exercise done twice a week for only thirty minutes per session, over eight weeks, reduced the symptoms of depression by forty percent.
There are many other things available to support depression, most of which can be found online, but the ones I have mentioned here are perhaps the most important ones.
There is no doubt that depression is a very difficult condition. It is also very common and so it is important to know you are not alone in feeling this. Do make sure you talk to someone you trust, who can support you. And know that there are many other steps you can take to help bring about change.