Anyone can get down from time to time with the usual ups and downs of life. However, if this becomes a persistent problem every day for two weeks or more then this may be a warning of clinical depression. Symptoms of depression can be physical, psychological and social. Hence, its effective and timely treatment really needs to address all of these multiple symptoms.
Physical symptoms can include:
changes in eating or sleeping patterns;
lack of energy or loss of interest in sex and
unexplained aches and pains.
Psychological symptoms can include:
constant low mood;
lack of enjoyment and
feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
Social symptoms can include:
difficulties in work and home life;
losing interest in usual activities and
avoiding social activities with friends.
Depression can be mild, moderate or severe depending on how many symptoms are present and how seriously it is impacting upon daily life.
About 6% of the population meet the clinical criteria for depression or dysthymia (low-grade depression for more than 2 years) at any one time.
Overall prevalence appears to be rising with a lifetime prevalence of 10-20%.
At least 50% will also have anxiety problems.
Depression increases death from natural causes by 1.7 times, and from suicide by 19.7 times.
Alcohol and illicit substance misuse, e.g. cocaine, heroin, can cause and worsen depression.
For people suffering from moderate or severe depression, NICE recommends a combination of antidepressant medication and a high-intensity psychological intervention for effective treatment, long-term recovery and relapse prevention.
Without regular medication, i.e. an antidepressant, for 6 months in moderate or severe depression, 50% will have a further episode within 2 years.
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