Am I Depressed?

Am I depressed?

I’ve been feeling really low for a couple of months now. I lost my job recently and also suffered a family bereavement. I’m not sure how to shake myself out of this low period. Any recommendations?

Margaret

Firstly, Margaret, I’ve very sorry for your loss and your job situation. It is understandable that you would feel down under these circumstances. However, you also need to look out for your health and when low moods persist on a daily basis for more than two weeks, depression is often diagnosed.

Doctors look for several symptoms of depression; sadness, guilt, low energy levels, poor concentration, physical aches or upset, social withdrawal, disturbed sleep and a feeling that life isn’t worth living.

The existence of five of these symptoms is enough to bring about a diagnosis of depression. Of course, depression ranges from mild to severe. All forms are treatable.

For mild depression, lifestyle changes can be effective. Daily walks or exercise and a varied diet can help, as can avoiding caffeine and alcohol and other depressants.

I often recommend to patients that they set small, achievable goals which lead to a sense of achievement building. It often helps to keep a diary of feelings and thoughts – this can help identify the triggers that lead to low moods.

Of course counselling and psychotherapy are invaluable in low mood and the most important factor in recovery from depression is social contact – people who talk to friends, family and health professionals fare much better than those who suffer in silence.

In cases of more severe depression, medication is usually required but the older ‘‘relaxants’’, such as valium, are highly addictive and ineffective for long term management. Newer antidepressants can really help and do not make people slower or unable to function.

Talk to your doctor, Margaret and talk to your family and friends too. Small steps can quickly take you along the road to full recovery.

Medical advice provided is not always suitable for specific cases. Always see your GP if you concerned about a medical problem.

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