Life is not a bed of roses for everyone.
Some people have an extra burden to carry. The dark cloud that envelopes you at times and halts your everyday functioning.
Anxiety and depression are the most common of all psychiatric conditions and affect many people at some time during their life.
Depression is viewed as an illness caused by changes in neurotransmitters in the centres of the brain that regulate emotion. Serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine are neurotransmitters found in the brain which allow for the transmission of impulses from one nerve cell to another across a tiny gap called the synapse. In depression, it is thought that there are not enough neurotransmitters in the synapse. Treatment may include medications that increase these levels.
Because of the debilitating effect of depression, it can significantly impact relationships and work. You may find your symptoms differ from other people’s slightly and that is because people present or express depression in different ways.
What do we look for in Depression?
- Depressed mood
- loss of interest and enjoyment in activities
- reduced energy, withdrawal, marked tiredness on slight effort
- poor concentration and attention on a task
- memory impairment
- lack of confidence and low self-esteem
- feelings of guilt and unworthiness
- bleak and pessimistic views of the future
- ideas or acts of self-harm or suicide
- disturbed sleep
- change in appetite and weight gain or loss
- low libido
There are no specific blood tests to diagnose depression. Some of these symptoms must be present for at least 2 weeks before a diagnosis is made.
Anxiety – Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Anxiety and depression are sometimes seen together. Anxiety can alert us to possible underlying depression.
What do we look for in Anxiety conditions?
- people with GAD have much higher levels of anxiety than everyday worry.
- You cant seem to shake concerns even though you realise it is more intense than the situation warrants
- have trouble relaxing
- often have trouble falling or staying asleep
- worries are accompanied by physical symptoms – like trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating or hot flushes
- may feel light-headed or out of breath or nauseous or needed to empty bladder or bowel frequently
- feeling as though there is an impending disaster and on the alert
- feel tired, have trouble concentrating
Many of these symptoms may overlap with those of depression.
There is no quick fix for depression or anxiety.
The most effective treatment for anxiety and depression is a combination of 6-12 months of medication and psychotherapy/counselling.
It is very important to seek help as the sense of isolation and shame can exacerbate low mood.
Make that call – it is not easy and takes courage. Find someone who you can talk to.