Depression is the thief of hope - but it can be beaten

Dr Eddie Murphy

Reporter:

Dr Eddie Murphy

Depression is the thief of hope - but it can be beaten

Depression is not simply feeling down and sad, it's much more than that.

Depression is not simply feeling down and sad, it's much more than that. It's a pervasive sadness, where you lose interest in activities that you've always enjoyed, you withdraw from others, and have little physical energy.

It is different from normal feelings of sadness, or low energy.

For a clinical diagnosis it need to be present for two or more weeks and presents with a range of symptoms; psychological, cognitive, emotional, behavioural and biological.

Depression is the thief of hope, it causes a feeling of hopelessness and even suicidal thoughts. 

Many people, and sometimes their families, feel embarrassed or ashamed about having depression, particularly men in my experience who can see it as a sign of weakness. Don't let these feelings stand in the way of getting treatment. Remember that depression is a common illness.

It affects the young and old, men and women, all ethnic groups, and all professions.

If you think you may be depressed, tell your doctor. Treatment can help you enjoy life again. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you will feel better.

Evidence based online CBT is available www. stratushealthcare.ie no wait, no fuss, start straight away.

Causes

The causes of depression are subject to debate. Lets start with the fact that that depression is not caused by personal weakness and is not a character flaw.

A biological perspective would indicate that certain parts of your brain, or chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters may be out of balance, hence the role that medications play. some people reject this narrative. 

Other experts believe that a combination of family history (your genes) and stressful life events play a role in depression.

Life events like a death in the family or having a long-term health problem, certainly can play a role.

Just because you have a family member with depression or have stressful life events doesn't mean you'll get depression.

Some people get depressed even if there is no obvious reason.

The question is whether there is an over diagnosis or medicalisation of normal sadness.

However when you have experienced depression and seen it in the face, you will know that it's truly real. 

Symptoms

Symptoms of depression may be hard to notice at first. They vary among people, and may be confused with just feeling "off" or another health issue.

The two most common symptoms of depression are: Feeling sad or hopeless nearly every day for at least two weeks. Losing interest in or not getting pleasure from most daily activities that you used to enjoy, and feeling this way nearly every day for at least two weeks.

A serious symptom of depression is thinking about death or suicide.

If you or someone you care about talks about this or about feeling hopeless, get help right away.

Treatment

Depression can be treated in various ways. Counselling, psychotherapy, and antidepressant medicines can all be used.

For some people medication is their "go to", my view as a psychologist is whatever works for you.

I see medications like a lifejacket in stormy water. No-one would take away a life jacket.

To me psychological interventions help the person to develop good swimming strokes and figure out how they might have 'fallen out of the boat'. 

Cognitive Behavioural therapy has been shown as evidenced based in depression. this can be face to face and even online www. stratushealthcare.ie. 

Lifestyle changes can play a role, such as reducing alcohol intake, and doing more exercise. Evidence shows that four 30min exercise sessions are equivalent to anti depressant medication for mild to moderate depression. 

Get help and support. Try and build a team around you. building your way out of depression takes time, it's not an overnight thing, it may take a few tries, and it can take several weeks for medicine and therapy to start working. 

Depression can return (relapse). How likely you are to get depression again increases each time you have a bout of depression. There is some evidence now about the role of MBSR - mindfulness Based Stress Reduction to thwart the reoccurrence of depression. 

How to help

If someone you care for is depressed, the best thing you can do is help the person get or stay in treatment. Learn about the depression. Talk to the person, and gently encourage him or her to do things and see people.

Depression often robs the person from you and the relationship you had. It's a thief. Stay in there, get supports for yourself.

AWARE and GROW are two organisations that can offer guidance. Know that most people recover from depression. Don't succumb to the hopelessness. 

When you are trying to support family members with illness, many powerful emotions can emerge, sadness, powerlessness, helplessness, worry and anger. It's at these times you will need support and take periods for self care. It's ok to step off the pitch to recharge your battery and not feel guilt. A break reminds you that are worth it and that you are ready to take up the mantle to care again for those who are vulnerable around you.

Dr Eddie Murphy Providing Evidenced Based Online CBT for Depression & Anxiety & Panic Attacks at www.stratushealthcare.ie