The NHS estimates that around 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer with depression to some degree at some point in their lives. Awareness of depression has increased over the last few years but there are various myths and misconceptions around, with many medical experts believing that depression is poorly understood. Here are 8 facts about depression to provide you with more insight and information about this common mental health problem:
- Depression is more than an extreme feeling of sadness
Sadness is a natural human response to certain situations we face in our day to day lives. Extreme sadness is a symptom of depression, but it is also characterised by prolonged periods of helplessness and worthlessness. These periods can last for months or even years at a time.
- Depression affects at least 10 percent of the population
Statistics suggest that at least 10% of people people will experience depression at some point in their life. Depression is actually a common illness and can affect people of all ages, ethnicities and social backgrounds.
- It can be difficult to detect depression
Depression is an internal illness characterised by a mixture of emotions that can be hard to spot by other people. Although depression does cause physical symptoms, for example weight loss (or gain), sleep disturbances and bowel changes, it can go unnoticed by other people for long periods of time. Many people choose to mask their feelings and often people who seem outgoing, happy or confident on the outside are actually suffering with mental or emotional problems on the inside.
- Depression can sometimes require extensive treatment
Depression is an illness and it its most severe form it can be life-threatening. People suffering with clinical depression require medical help and support as much as those with physical illnesses.
- Depression has an effect on physical health
It’s understandable to assume that depression primarily affects mental health, but it also commonly results in physical health problems. Possible effects of depression include:
- Frequent headaches
- Muscular aches and pains
- Sleep disturbances, insomnia and fatigue
- Lethargy and low energy levels
- Reduced libido
- Changes in appetite, often resulting in weight loss or weight gain
As these symptoms occur with several conditions, many people suffering with depression do not seek medical help, because they’re not aware the symptoms are linked to depression.
- There isn’t always a clear cause for depression
In many cases, people become depressed as a result of changes or difficult life situations, such as the breakdown of a relationship, loss of a loved one, financial pressure or unemployment, but there is not always an obvious cause. Regardless of the cause, depression can be hugely debilitating and help is always available. If you think you might be suffering from depression, no matter what may have caused it you should always visit your GP at the earliest convenience.
- Often, a combination of treatments is an effective solution
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression, there are numerous treatments available and effective results are often achieved using a combination of remedies. Possible treatment options include medication, exercise and talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy and counselling.
- Depression is most commonly diagnosed in women
Statistics show that more women are diagnosed with depression than men. However, this may not be a true reflection on who is affected by the illness most, as statistically women are more likely to seek medical help than men. Depression can affect both men and women, but research has proven that women are more likely to visit a doctor if they experience symptoms of depression than men. Depression is also becoming more common in young people. The latest NHS figures estimate that around 4% of children aged between 5 and 16 years old have or do suffer from depression.