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What is Depression and How Can it be Treated?

By Anita Hale

We often use the phrase, “I feel depressed” to describe ourselves when we feel miserable or down. But for many, feelings of worthlessness and sadness do not simply go away after a few days. Sometimes this can be because the individual isn’t just “feeling” depressed, but is suffering from depression in the medical sense of the word.

In England it was found that anxiety and depression were the most prevalent mental disorders, having been experienced by nearly ten per cent of the population at some time (The Health & Social Care Information Centre 2009). The ONS also declared that one in ten suffer from depression in Great Britain.

The reason why depression and anxiety are sometimes combined in survey findings and research such as this is that anxiety is often systematic of depression. Having said that, depression can conversely be a symptom of an anxiety disorder and this in turn can make diagnosis tricky. Indeed, the list of symptoms for depression is long and sometimes vague. For instance, symptoms can include insomnia, feeling sad and teary, low self-esteem, losing interest in your surroundings, lack of sex drive and weight loss or weight gain.

The difficulty in diagnosis stems from the fact that it’s perfectly normal to feel some of these things some of the time. With that in mind, how do we know when we need to seek help for depression? The best thing to do is to examine how long you have held any of these symptoms. If you have felt or experienced several of them consistently for two weeks, then it is advisable to book an appointment with your doctor.

How your depression is treated will vary depending on its severity. As with the symptoms of depression, there is no one definitive cause of depression. There is a suggestion of a genetic basis to manic depression (bi-polar disorder), but not so much with the depression we are discussing here. Nevertheless, if you have a family history of depression then you are more likely to develop it as well.

Additional causes and triggers for depression include the death of a loved one and other stressful changes in one’s life, such as the end of a relationship or starting a new job. Links have also been made between poor diet and lack of exercise and depression. Furthermore, some prescribed drugs as well as narcotics can produce symptoms of depression as a side effect.

Your diagnosis should take into account your medical history as well as your present circumstances and health. From here your GP should be able to offer you treatment as befits your depression. In reality, anti-depressants are the most commonly administered form of treatment, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While their effectiveness has been found to be clinically significant when treating more severe forms of depression, there are a number of non-medicated treatments that are gaining popularity in treating more common forms of depression.

Sometimes a doctor will simply monitor your progress over a short period, as often symptoms of depression can clear up after a few weeks. Talking therapies are also popular and these are available in many forms. For instance, cognitive behaviour therapy is a pro-active talking therapy which aims to change your behaviour and negative thinking through mental exercises. Guided self help therapy usually involves a course of self help books read under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Some talking therapy, such as psychotherapy is used in conjunction with medication and involves deep analysis and going back over childhood memories. Treatments can be offered over a number of weeks, months or longer depending on how intense the depressive symptoms are. The key to obtaining proper treatment is to seek help as soon as you become concerned.

For further reading, be sure to have a look at the best self help books and also self help seminars.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Hale, Anita "What is Depression and How Can it be Treated?." What is Depression and How Can it be Treated?. 17 Oct. 2012. 16 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Hale, A (2012, October 17). What is Depression and How Can it be Treated?. Retrieved September 16, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Hale, Anita "What is Depression and How Can it be Treated?"

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