Find out about depression

One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to find out about depression.  However, this can be daunting for anyone experiencing depression for the first time, because although the condition is common, it is not talked about openly in our society.

Unfortunately, few GPs have time to talk to you in any depth about depression.  If you are prescribed an antidepressant, there will be some “patient information” included with your tablets.  Your pharmacy may have a leaflet or booklet on depression.  However, these are also limited in the information they provide.

In Wales and some areas of England, you have access to a books on prescription scheme that allows you to access books about depression from an approved list from your local library (even if you do not have a library membership).

The Internet is, of course, a valuable information resource.  However, if you Google the word “depression”, you come up with 66.5 million hits, many of which are for organisations looking to make money out of your distress.  Picking your way through the Internet minefield can be tricky, but it can help to think about who is giving you information, and why they might by giving it to you:

  • Commercial organisations (whose addresses often end with .co.uk or .com) are usually giving you information in order to sell you a treatment or therapy.  This doesn’t mean that the information is unreliable, but you need to be wary, as the information may be “spun” to make the product look more attractive
  • Not-for-profit organisations (whose addresses often end in .org or .org.uk) are less likely to be out to make a sale.  However, they may seek to distort information for other reasons.  For example, a patient organisation funded by the pharmaceutical industry may overstate the benefits and downplay the side effects of antidepressants.  On the other hand, a patient organisation from the “anti-psychiatry” tradition may overstate the side effects and fail to acknowledge the benefits.
  • Academic organisations (whose addresses end in .ac.uk) are generally reliable sources, particularly for more complicated research data.  However, even academic bodies have got into the habit of spinning information in order to support reasearch grant applications.  If you are looking for solid research into depression, PubMed UK provides a database of published, “peer-reviewed” studies.
  • The Health pages of news organisations such as the BBC are a good source of balanced information about depression.  However, the pressures of 24 hour news mean that some caution is needed when looking at individual news stories.  Usually, news stories are lifted from press releases written by third parties that wish to promote a particular agenda.
  • Government and NHS sites are very reliable (although governments of all persuassions have a habit of overstating success and down-playing failure).  NHS Direct (which was set up both to promote health and to encourage early and appropriate treatment) is a particularly useful source of health-related information for the full range of illnesses and health issues.  The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has published guidence on the treatment of depression which provide useful information about the treatments that you should be able to access.

Most formal sources of information (even in the not-for-profit sector) miss a key source of information – the personal experience of people affected by depression.  Attending a self-help group can be a very positive way of finding out about depression, especially the coping strategies that other people use.  For those who prefer to remain anonymous, online forums offer similar informal support to that found in self-help groups, but without the need to identify yourself to others.

Symptoms

  • Sadness, feeling down, blue.

  • Negative thoughts and feelings.

  • Feeling hopeless, helpless, worthless.

  • Inappropriate guilt.

  • Pessimistic about the future.

  • Inability to obtain pleasure, social, sexual

  • Decreased energy, fatigue.

  • Memory loss, or no concentration.

  •  Difficult to make decisions.

  • Agitation.

  • Irritable or restless.

  •  Sleep problems, cannot get to sleep,

  •  wake-up and cannot get back to sleep,

  •  wake-up early.

  • Sleeping too much.

  • Loss of appetite.

  • Over eating.

  • Suicidal Ideology