Fight­ing back against de­pres­sion

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At least one in six New Zealan­ders will ex­pe­ri­ence se­ri­ous de­pres­sion at some time in their life and about one in seven young peo­ple in New Zealand will ex­pe­ri­ence a ma­jor de­pres­sive dis­or­der be­fore the age of 24.

Th­ese are alarm­ing fig­ures and with our life­styles con­tin­u­ing to get busier as we try to fit more and more into each day, th­ese fig­ures are set to rise with the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion es­ti­mat­ing that by the year 2020, de­pres­sion will be the sec­ond most com­mon cause of ill health and pre­ma­ture death world­wide. Women have higher rates of de­pres­sion than men (one in five women, com­pared with one in eight men), and ru­ral men have higher rates of de­pres­sion than ur­ban men.

What Is De­pres­sion? De­pres­sion is a men­tal ill­ness where you feel sad and mis­er­able most of the time and your mood is per­sis­tently very low. Be­ing de­pressed is more than feel­ing down for a day or two – it usu­ally con­tin­ues for weeks or months at a time and can range from be­ing a mild ill­ness, to a se­vere one – where you can lose in­ter­est in life and the things you used to en­joy.

Trig­gers of de­pres­sion There’s no sim­ple an­swer as to why peo­ple be­come de­pressed. It’s of­ten a com­bi­na­tion of things and it varies from per­son to per­son but some peo­ple are more likely to be­come de­pressed than oth­ers. De­pres­sion can also be trig­gered by a dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion in your life, or it can build up over many years. Be­ing aware of the risk fac­tors in your life will help you iden­tify what might be caus­ing your de­pres­sion and help you find the right way through it.

Signs of de­pres­sion

Some of the signs of de­pres­sion are:

feel­ing tired all the time get­ting too much sleep or not enough feel­ing worth­less and help­less think­ing about death a lot hav­ing no en­ergy and feel­ings of low self-es­teem loss of ap­petite or overeat­ing. sad­ness or emo­tional ‘numb­ness’ loss of plea­sure in ev­ery­day ac­tiv­i­ties ir­ri­tabil­ity or anx­i­ety poor con­cen­tra­tion feel­ing guilty, or cry­ing for no ap­par­ent rea­son.

Man­ag­ing de­pres­sion Like any ill­ness, the sooner you get help, the sooner you’ll get back your en­joy­ment of life. There are a range of treat­ment op­tions to choose from. Some peo­ple use in­di­vid­ual treat­ments, while oth­ers pre­fer a com­bi­na­tion of treat­ments. They in­clude self-help tech­niques, treat­ment with your doc­tor and talk­ing ther­a­pies.

It’s im­por­tant to find a health pro­fes­sional you are happy with, a treat­ment that works for you, and some­one trusted to talk things through with. You also need to give the var­i­ous com­po­nents of your treat­ment plan enough time to work prop­erly.

Keep in touch with your health prac­ti­tioner, and if your cur­rent treat­ment plan doesn’t seem to be work­ing af­ter an ad­e­quate pe­riod of time, talk to them about an­other ap­proach.

There are things you can do your­self to help man­age your de­pres­sion.

do regular ex­er­cise get good qual­ity sleep un­der­stand what trig­gers de­pres­sion for you (eg, lack of sleep, too much stress) join a sup­port group eat healthily re­duce stress learn re­lax­ation tech­niques. It’s im­por­tant to hold on to what’s pre­cious in your life, the peo­ple you care about and the ac­tiv­i­ties you en­joy.

Even if you can’t seem to see the light at the end of the tun­nel – there is a way through.

Sources: de­pres­sion.org.nz and health.govt.nz

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