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Feeling down in the dumps is something that affects all of us from time to time but depression goes beyond this because the feelings are so intense and on-going.

The condition is very common, according to *The Depression Alliance 1 in 5 people in the UK will suffer from depression at some stage in their lives.

People who are depressed can’t simply ‘look on the bright side’. The condition is a medical one that often requires treatment.

What causes depression?

Stressful events such as bereavement, divorce, illness or redundancy can bring on depression. When depression occurs the mood-regulating chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine become disrupted affecting our mood.

How is depression treated?

A person should seek help if their low mood, loss of interest and lack of pleasure and energy have lasted for two weeks of more.

A GP may recommend drug therapy, psychological therapy, relaxation, self-help or a combination of these.

  • Drug Therapy: Depression involves chemical changes in the brain. Antidepressants work by adjusting these chemical back to normal levels. Antidepressants take two to three weeks to kick-in and up to six weeks to make a real difference.
  • Psychological treatments: These include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which changes negative patterns of thinking, Interpersonal therapy (IPT) which teaches effective communication, Psychodynamic Therapy which helps patients understand past conflicts and counselling which allows the patient to talk through issues in their everyday lives.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT): This is the administration of electric impulses under anaesthetic and is only offered for severe depression.

Unfortunately over half of patients with a single major bout of depression will have another episode.

Alternative Therapies & Self-help

Lifestyle changes and complimentary therapies may ease depression. These can include relaxation sessions and regular exercise.