A weekly column by Dr Miles Langdon of South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, addressing topical
This weekend marks the start of Depression Awareness Week, as the healthcare community prepares to battle an outdated perception of depression, primarily of it being a non-serious health concern.
In 2012, 13.26 per cent of adults in Lincolnshire alone were diagnosed with a form of depression. This figure contributes to a total of 12 per cent of the total burden of non-fatal global disease and, by 2020, looks set to be second after cardiovascular disease in terms of the world’s disabling diseases.
Clinical depression affects people in different ways. Symptoms usually fall under three categories; psychological, physical and social, and can include; continuous low mood or sadness, having low self-esteem, feeling irritable and intolerant of others, feeling anxious or worried, having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself. You may find you have a change in appetite or weight, worries about your physical health, problems with concentration, mood changes, and difficulties at work or at home, changes to your menstrual cycle and/or disturbed sleep.
Clinical depression can come on gradually or be sparked by an impromptu trigger, such as redundancy, divorce or separation and bereavement. There are different types of depression that can affect anyone at any time of your life, including teenage years, after the birth of a baby, and in the elderly, which can often mimic memory problems.
There is an unjust perception surrounding depression that it is merely a trivial disorder and not a serious health concern. This naïve opinion is far from the truth, with people affected from all age groups, genders and backgrounds fighting a potentially life threatening condition, with often difficult and disturbing symptoms.
Research has identified that taking regular exercise can boost mood and morale, and keeping to a healthy diet and regular sleep patterns can also help.
We would strongly encourage anyone who thinks they may be experiencing symptoms of depression to get in touch with their GP as soon as possible to start their recovery process.
There are numerous treatments available to combat the condition, from self-help measures, talking treatments such as psychotherapies, behavioural and cognitive therapy, herbal supplements, and for more severe cases anti-depressant medication.
For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Treatment
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, please contact your GP. If you think you need help in a crisis you can also contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. You can also call the NHS helpline on 111, 24 hours a day.