We all feel down and have bouts of the blues from time to time, but for people with depression this feeling can last for months. They become so low in spirits that they can’t work or keep up their routine. Mixed depression and anxiety is the most common mental disorder in Britain, affecting an estimated 9% of the population.
We asked Dr Cosmo Hallstrom, a psychiatrist and specialist in depression, what he would want to know if he was diagnosed with depression
How should I tackle my depression?
If you went to the doctor because you were feeling low, a diagnosis of depression will probably come as no surprise. Remember, you are not alone. Depression is a common condition with wide implications, so concentrate on the options put forward by your GP to help you deal with it.
If you went to the doctor complaining of physical symptoms, such as back pain, chronic tiredness or headaches and your GP spots that you're depressed, it may take some time to accept this. Try to understand your problem and work out why you're depressed. When you’re feeling low, the world looks bad. Maybe you’re blaming it on your lifestyle when it is, in fact, your internal chemistry. All these things are interlinked.
Do I need to take medication?
If your depression is sufficiently severe to cause problems in your daily life, you should consider taking medication under the advice and guidance of your GP. If your depression is linked to problems in your lifestyle, you should seek counselling.
I'm feeling better. Can I stop taking my tablets?
It's very important to take the full course of tablets. They won't have an instant effect, and may not be the only remedy you’re prescribed. You may also want to consider cognitive behaviour therapy.
Will I suffer depression for the rest of my life?
Most people with depression make a full recovery, with or without treatment, and live full and productive lives.
I don't feel like doing anything. Can't I just stay in bed?
It's important to keep going at whatever level you can, and not to give up work and social activities. It's best not to stay in bed all day, or to punish yourself or give up on life. Take your recovery in stages and work out where the problem lies.