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Depression is a common mental challenge that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration. Depression is different from feeling down or sad. Unhappiness is something which everyone feels at one time or another, usually due to a particular cause. A person experiencing depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness, and the feelings stay with them instead of going away.

Depression can happen to anyone. Many successful and famous people who seem to have everything going for them battle with this problem. Depression also affects people of every age. Half of the people who have depression will only experience it once but for the other half it will happen again. The length of time that it takes to recover ranges from around six months to a year or more.

Living with depression is difficult for those who suffer from it and for their family, friends, and colleagues. It can be difficult to know if you are depressed and what you can do about it. Depression can happen suddenly as a result of physical illness, experiences dating back to childhood, unemployment, bereavement, family problems, lack of meaning or other life-changing events. Examples of physical illnesses linked to depression include heart disease, back pain and cancer. Pituitary damage, a treatable condition which frequently follows head injuries, may also lead to depression.

Sometimes, there may be no clear reason for your depression but, whatever the original cause, identifying what may affect how you feel and the things that are likely to trigger depression is an important first step. Psychotherapy is very effective in treating depression and is an area I specialise in.

Symptoms to look out for:

  • Tiredness and loss of energy.

  • Sadness that doesn’t go away. 

  • Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem. 

  • Difficulty concentrating. 

  • Not being able to enjoy things that are usually pleasurable or interesting. 

  • Feeling anxious all the time. 

  • Avoiding other people, sometimes even your close friends. 

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. 

  • Sleeping problems - difficulties in getting off to sleep or waking up much earlier than usual.

  • Very strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness. 

  • Finding it hard to function at work/college/school. 

  • Loss of appetite. 

  • Loss of sex drive and/or sexual problems. 

  • Physical aches and pains. 

  • Thinking about suicide and death. 

  • Self-harm

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