Depression – What is it and how does it work

Admittedly everyone feels down sometimes, but depression is more than feeling unhappy.

Sometimes all we need to do when we are feeling down is get ourselves up and go for a walk ( exercise raises the endorphin levels) or call a friend to meet for coffee. But if these simple actions do not make you feel any better and you are feeling irritable, tired unable to sleep, unable to eat and unable to make decisions, you may be depressed.

You may also feel dissatisfied, hopeless, helpless and you may want to cry all the time. And as much as you try, you can’t make yourself feel better.

Although everyone can have these feelings from time to time, if you have depression, they accumulate and do not go away. They can last for weeks or months. Some people with depression have symptoms that are not typical. You may be anxious or irritable possibly suddenly finding your memory or concentration is not what it was.

Understandably you can have depression at the same time as other illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer a heart attack or a stroke.

Unfortunately many people with depression don’t ask for help and about half of all depression is not properly treated.

Depression is not simply a state of mind or something you can will away with some effort. With depression, the most important thing is to recognise that you may have it and to see someone qualified to give you the right diagnosis and treatment. It is also important to remember that the hopelessness you may feel is a symptom of your depression, and it doesn’t mean that there really is no hope. It may help to confide in someone you trust, and to keep busy and meet up with people rather than stay at home on your own. Do not isolate yourself as this will only compound the overwhelming feelings.

So what happens in our bodies? No one knows for certain what causes depression. Doctors and researchers think that triggers can often play a role in the development of depression. For example, it can be set off by the death of a friend or partner even a beloved pet.

Depression has also been linked to changes in how the brain works. Thinking about this, it does makes sense, given that our emotions, thoughts, sleep, appetite and behaviour are regulated by our brain.

We know that the brain sends signals from nerve to nerve using neurotransmitters. But the levels of certain neurotransmitters in your brain called noradrenaline and serotonin are abnormal if you have depression, and they do not work properly

Some studies have found that family history can to play a part in depression., suggesting that it can be caused by genes.  But likewise there are studies proving that there is no correlation between family history of depression and its occurrence.

If you are in any way concerned that you may be depressed It is best to make an appointment with your local GP and have a good talk about how you are feeling as well as how your life is being affected.  Your GP will be able to direct you to the right resources to help you, sometimes you will need some medication to help you through this as well as dealing with any lifestyle pressures you are experiencing. The most important decision is to ask for help, you are not alone!

Please note: This is in no way medical advice. Always consult a medical professional.