Depression and anxiety disorder is the most common mental health complaint in Britain and covers a wide range of problems with varying severity and symptoms. One in five people in the U.K. suffer from depression at some time in their life, but their symptoms and treatment can vary widely. While we have listed some of the symptoms and treatments available below you should contact your G.P. as soon as possible if you think you may be suffering from depression or any other mental health problems.
Symptoms to look out for
‘Depression’ is a term used by most people to describe a passing phase of sadness or feeling ‘blue,’ but it is also a real medical complaint from which many people suffer. Instead of occasional feelings of sadness some people suffer long-lasting bouts of intense misery, helplessness, loneliness or even physical pains. If a person has suffered from depression for most of their life then they may not recognise the symptoms or have devised their own coping strategies. If you experience only a few of these symptoms then it is unlikely that you suffer from depression and anxiety disorder, however, if you suffer any one of the symptoms particularly strongly you should consult your G.P. as it may be a symptom of another problem.
- Intense feelings of despair, sadness or helplessness
- Persistent bouts of sadness (most of the day for over two weeks)
- Tiredness or lethargy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Not gaining any pleasure from things you know should, or use to, enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem
- Difficulty sleeping
- Avoiding people, even those close to you
- Loss of libido
- Loss of appetite
- Suicidal thoughts or self-harm
Methods of Diagnosis
Diagnosing mental illnesses is not like diagnosing a physical illness as there are no tests that can give an absolute diagnosis such as a blood test or a visual examination. Instead, a medical professional such as your G.P. or community mental health nurse will talk to you and advise treatment based on the presence, or absence, of particular symptoms. There are many different types of depression; all with differing symptoms and treatments, which is why it is important that you seek professional help from a medical professional. For example; you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder which has symptoms that are similar to those of bi-polar disorder and only a professional trained in diagnosing mental health problems can tell you what disorder you are suffering from.
Treatments for Depression and Anxiety Disorder
In most cases your G.P. will oversee your treatment with additional help from a community mental health nurse and local services such as charities. However, in some cases of severe depression your depression may be treated by more specialised services including mental health units in hospitals. Your local health trust will work together to make sure that you receive the correct treatment for your condition, whatever that may be. There are three main ways that depression is treated; medicinal treatments, talking therapy or hospital treatment.
Medicinal treatments are mainly focussed on antidepressants, of which there are many different kinds. Only a medical professional should prescribe medicines for your treatment and you should tell each one you see which medication you have/are on so that you are not wrongly prescribed.
Talking therapies are also very useful in treating depression. Depending on the severity of your illness this may be used in conjunction with medicinal treatments or instead of. It is very useful when dealing with depression to talk about your feelings with others, whether they are a psychiatrist, a counsellor, members of a support group or your G.P.
In very severe cases of depression your care team may think that you will benefit from treatment inside a hospital. While there you will have constant support from medical professionals who will probably combine medicinal and psychological treatments in order to help you through. Most people only spend a short amount of time in hospital while they get treatment and learn coping strategies for when they are released.