Depression is a huge problem in Ireland today. 10% of the Irish population suffers from depression. But mental illness is a taboo subject so we tend to ignore the problem, until it happens to us.
Depression is a condition that can take many forms and can presents itself in many different ways: anxiety, sleeplessness, lack of appetite, and difficulty concentrating are very common. The symptoms vary from person to person, but if you feel "down" for more than two weeks, and these feelings are interfering with your daily life, you may be clinically depressed.
Most people with depression never seek help, even though the majority will respond to treatment. Treating depression is especially important because it affects you, your family, and your work. Some people with depression try to harm themselves in the mistaken belief that how they are feeling will never change.
Depression is a treatable illness.
What causes depression?
Depression is a complex illness, and can be triggered by a reaction to a trauma in a person's life (such as death, separation, moving, breakup of relationship, assault etc.), or it can be a biological or chemical feature of the individual. Depression is most common in adolescents and older people and this is probably because these tend to be times of major change.
Different types of depression
Reactive depression occurs as a reaction to an unhappy event or setback in a person's life. Even an event which seems minor to outsiders can trigger a reactive depression in the individual and it is important that this event is not trivialized. People will react in different ways to different things going on in their life. Typical symptoms include anxiousness, sadness, tension, irritability, feeling worse in the evening and having trouble getting to sleep at night.
Endogenous depression is usually due to internal biological features. It can often occur after little or no stress. Emotional deadness, broken sleep or early morning wakening and a progressive loss of interest are common in this depression.
Bipolar disorder (previously known as manic depression) tends to be more severe. It involves both depression and also elations, which are periods where the mood is significantly 'high'. Symptoms of elation include:
- Increased sense of self-worth. The person feels like they can achieve anything and that they are invincible.
- Pursuit of pleasurable or adventurous new activities.
- Increased likelihood to use drugs, be promiscuous, undertake new ventures and take physical risks.
- Uncharacteristic irritability or anger.
- Mind is racing – can't switch off.
- Huge amounts of energy. Reduced need for sleep.
These manic periods can feel great for some individuals, but can be very destructive and are often followed by an extreme low (depression).If you or someone you know has an urgent mental health problem or is feeling suicidal, you should immediately contact your local GP or go to the Casualty unit of the nearest hospital.
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