Fighting back against depression
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