What is Depression?“That’s depressing!” we may comment casually in response to situations we encounter in everyday life. However, clinically significant depression is about much more than feeling “a bit down”. Depression is characterised by persistent low mood that we don’t seem able to move out of no matter how hard we try. We may feel flat, sad, tearful or simply numb and disconnected. We may also find ourselves feeling angry and becoming irritable with those around us. It’s also common to have thoughts that we are worthless and a failure and to experience a loss of self-confidence and to have very low self-esteem. We often lose a sense of perspective when we are depressed and can feel hopeless and believe that the depression will never end and our situation will never change. People who are depressed often describe their experience as like “being in a pit I can’t get out of” or “being in a dark place on my own with no light and no way out”.
It’s as if we have blinkers on and can only feel the despair of our current situation. We may lose interest in activities which we usually enjoy and feel detached from people we care about deeply. This sense of hopelessness may deepen into thoughts of suicide. People sometimes worry that if they talk about feeling suicidal they may increase these feelings. For the same reason, friends and family members sometimes avoid asking a person who is depressed if they feel suicidal. There is no evidence that talking about suicide increases the risk of that happening. If you feel suicidal it’s very important to talk about it and to ask for help. In the first instance, go and see your GP and explain how you feel.
The NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidelines recommend several treatments which have been shown by research to be effective in treating depression:
Psychological Treatments for Depression
- IPT (Interpersonal Therapy)
- Behavioural Activation
- Couple Therapy for those with a partner
- Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT).