Are you un­happy? Some words on feel­ing de­pressed…

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De­pres­sion is more than feel­ing un­happy or fed up for a few days. More than 300 mil­lion peo­ple suf­fer with de­pres­sion ac­cord­ing to the WHO. It is the lead­ing cause for men­tal

and phys­i­cal dis­abil­ity. What would you do when you are feel­ing low in Jakarta? Most peo­ple have pe­ri­ods of feel­ing down, but when you're de­pressed you feel sad for weeks or months. Some peo­ple think de­pres­sion is not a gen­uine health con­di­tion. De­pres­sion is a real ill­ness with real symp­toms. De­pres­sion isn't a sign of weak­ness or some­thing you can stop by "pulling your­self to­gether". With the right treat­ment and sup­port, most peo­ple with de­pres­sion can make a full re­cov­ery.

How do you know you are de­pressed?

De­pres­sion cause a wide va­ri­ety of symp­toms. Some peo­ple have last­ing feel­ings of un­hap­pi­ness and hope­less­ness, to los­ing in­ter­est in the things you used to en­joy and feel­ing very tear­ful. Many peo­ple with de­pres­sion also have feel­ings of anx­i­ety. You can have phys­i­cal symp­toms like feel­ing con­stantly tired, sleep­ing badly, lack of ap­petite or sex drive, and var­i­ous aches and pains. The symp­toms of de­pres­sion range from mild to se­vere. At its mildest, you may sim­ply feel low in spirit, while se­vere de­pres­sion can make you feel sui­ci­dal. Most peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence feel­ings of stress, un­hap­pi­ness or anx­i­ety dur­ing dif­fi­cult times. A low mood may im­prove after a short pe­riod of time, rather than be­ing a sign of de­pres­sion.

When should you see a doc­tor?

It's im­por­tant to seek help from your doc­tor (read GP) if you think you may be de­pressed. The sooner you see a doc­tor, the sooner you can be on the way to re­cov­ery.

What are the causes of de­pres­sion?

Some­times there's a trig­ger for de­pres­sion. Life-chang­ing events, such as be­reave­ment, los­ing your job, chang­ing coun­tries or even hav­ing a baby, can bring it on. Peo­ple with a fam­ily history of de­pres­sion are more likely to ex­pe­ri­ence it them­selves. But you can also be­come de­pressed for no ob­vi­ous rea­son.

Ev­ery­one can get de­pressed. If you are not sure about your feel­ings or if you have any con­cerns about your low mood, you should talk to your trusted med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner. He or she can ad­dress any phys­i­cal is­sues and he should be able to rec­og­nize true de­pres­sion.

How to treat…

Treat­ment for de­pres­sion can in­volve a com­bi­na­tion of life­style changes, talk­ing ther­a­pies and med­i­ca­tion. If you have mild de­pres­sion, your doc­tor may sug­gest watch­ful wait­ing. They may also sug­gest life­style mea­sures such as ex­er­cise.

Talk­ing ther­a­pies are used for mild de­pres­sion that isn't im­prov­ing or mod­er­ate de­pres­sion. An­tide­pres­sants are also some­times pre­scribed. For mod­er­ate to se­vere de­pres­sion, a com­bi­na­tion of talk­ing ther­apy and an­tide­pres­sants is of­ten rec­om­mended. If you have se­vere de­pres­sion, you may be re­ferred to a spe­cial­ist men­tal health team for in­ten­sive spe­cial­ist talk­ing treat­ments and pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion. Start by talk­ing to your GP. He or she should have the skills to di­ag­nose you and to make a man­age­ment plan for you. Talk about it! If you have a good re­la­tion­ship with a trusted doc­tor in Jakarta you can find ways to cope with de­pres­sion. He or she may be able to help you. Please note that there are some good coun­sel­lors avail­able in Jakarta. Some are flu­ent in English (or other lan­guages), a good clinic should be in a po­si­tion to help you fur­ther.

Liv­ing with de­pres­sion

Many peo­ple with de­pres­sion ben­e­fit by mak­ing life­style changes. Read­ing a self-help book can help you gain a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing about what causes you to feel de­pressed. Shar­ing your ex­pe­ri­ences with oth­ers in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion can also be very sup­port­ive. If you are in doubt or if you want to know more you should try and talk to your doc­tor. Find a clinic that you are com­fort­able with to dis­cuss these mat­ters.

Dr Steven Graaff, MD,M RCGP, the founder of Good Prac­tice Clinic is a grad­u­ate of the Vrije Univer­siteit Am­s­ter­dam. Be­fore com­plet­ing his for­mal train­ing in Gen­eral Prac­tice in the UK, he has worked in sev­eral hos­pi­tals, oc­cu­pa­tional health and gen­eral prac­tice in the Nether­lands and the UK. As a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional with in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence, Steven de­cided to start his own clinic – Good Prac­tice, in Jakarta.

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