Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days.
Everyone goes through spells of feeling down, but with depression you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.
Depression is common, increasingly so during childhood and adolescence. Rates of depression in young people in the UK have risen by 70% in the past 25 years, and one in four young people report experiencing suicidal thoughts.
For the majority of depression sufferers, the difficulties express themselves in different ways; but the degree of suffering should not be underestimated. The condition can limit lives considerably. Depression is often associated with feeling a deep sense of pointlessness, having difficulty in sustaining any feeling of pleasure or enjoyment.
People with depression view themselves very negatively. They have great difficulty in forming relationships, or the relationships they have become easily contaminated with the feelings of pointlessness.
There are many other symptoms of depression and you're unlikely to have every one listed below.
Psychological symptoms include:
- continuous low mood or sadness
- feeling hopeless and helpless
- having low self-esteem
- feeling tearful
- feeling guilt-ridded
- feeling irritable and intolerant of others
- having no motivation or interest in things
- finding it difficult to make decisions
- not getting any enjoyment out of life
- feeling anxious or worried
- having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
Physical symptoms include:
- moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- change in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
- unexplained aches and pains
- lack of energy or lack of interest in sex (loss of libido)
- changes to your menstrual cycle
- disturbed sleep (for example, finding it hard to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning)
Social symptoms include:
- not doing well at work
- taking part in fewer social activities and avoiding contact with friends
- neglecting your hobbies and interests
- having difficulties in your home and family life
Whereas an infectious illness starts at a definable point and has a course limited to weeks and months, depression is different and increasingly we have come to recognise that depression is not best thought of on this kind of illness model.
Depression has always been shrouded in stigma and at the Tavistock we work hard to promote awareness. Awareness in young people is important as we know from our adult patients and our research that most adults with severe depression have felt this way to some extent for most of their lives.
How the Tavistock can help.
Central to our approach at the Tavistock is to understand depression as a meaningful communication about the person’s life history and current circumstances.
We feel that it is more appropriate to understand the depression as part of what the person is; part of their personality. The depression in this sense is an authentic expression of their lives, and the negative thoughts and feelings need to be seen and respected as very important meaningful communications.
Everyone referred to the Tavistock will have a number of in-depth consultations in order to understand the nature of their difficulties. Where psychotherapy is a realistic option, then individuals will often receive a course of treatment lasting sometimes 12, sometimes 18 months, sometimes even longer.
By offering services based within social care, community settings and even schools, we deliver services more easily to people in need and who may struggle to get themselves here to be helped.