'Depression' is a word that's commonly used in everyday life, but what is is? Depression can be a reaction to something that is making the sufferer unhappy, but there doesn't have to be a known reason for it. Whatever the cause, the effects can be significant and can affect all areas of a person's life. Indeed people with depression can experience problems sleeping, eating properly, working effectively and socialising. Feeling sad is a common way of describing depression, but there are different types:
Mild to moderate depression: We all feel down in the dumps from time to time, but if someone's feelings are starting to affect their day-to-day lives (as described above), or if the feelings come back on a regular basis, then it could be that the person is depressed.
Severe or clinical depression: The same kinds of feelings and difficulties occur in clinical depression, but they are more severe and last longer. People with severe or clinical depression may feel suicidal or feel there is no point in living.
Bi-polar disorder: People with bi-polar disorder, also sometimes called 'manic depression', experience mood swings and may swing from extreme highs to extreme lows.
The symptoms of depression
There are lots of symptoms related to depression - both mental and physical. Although everyone will experience different symptoms, some of the more common ones include: having trouble sleeping; feeling tired or lacking the energy to do everyday things; a change in appetite; having difficulty concentrating; loss of self-esteem; feeling agitated or restless; loss of interest in appearance (someone may stop shaving or washing their hair); or feeling guilty or worthless. Often people lose interest in sex and in seeing family and friends. People may feel irritable, angry or out of control and may take more risks than usual. They may behave in an aggressive way to those around them, so this may be one of the first signs of depression you notice about an employee. Accompanying the other symptoms (may be all or just one of the above depending on the individual) will come a general feeling of sadness.
Causes of depression
Feeling down is often a normal reaction to life events, such as loss of a family member or job. However sometimes people continue to feel sad for a prolonged period and it doesn't seem to get better. Depression affects 1 in 6 people at some point in their lives, including men who often experience different symptoms to women and find it harder to ask for help.
There isn't one identifiable cause of depression. It may be the make up of an individual or their life circumstances, but it varies from person to person and can be a combination of different things, both in the past and present.
Helping someone with depression
There are many ways to help someone with depression including a vast array of self-help websites, book and CDs. Encouraging the person to visit their GP can be a helpful step in taking action. GPs can explain the options and what might be the best course of action.
There are many different types of antidepressant drugs that a GP may prescribe (Tricyclic, SSRIs, SNRIs and MAOIs) that come with varying side effects. Some commonly prescribed drugs include: Prozac and Seroxat (SSRIs) and Anafranil (Tricyclic). St John's Wort, based on plant extracts and used in mild depression may also be suggested. Drugs are however often used to ease the symptoms of depression, but cannot treat the cause.
Therapy for depression
Someone who is depressed may feel better simply by talking to someone and sharing their feelings. Talking therapies can be effective for supporting people with depression and can help them work through their feelings and the causes for them. Counselling, psychotherapy and CBT are all common therapies that may be effective for people suffering from depression.
First Psychology Assistance provides a wide range of employee assistance services to support employees at difficult times and to help them achieve their full potential. We are always happy to discuss your individual requirements for employee assistance services with you. Please call us on 0845-872-1780 or contact us using our web form.