Break free from depression

Most people have down days and feel a bit flat from time to time. Usually, these feelings can be managed but if they interfere with your life and don’t go away after a couple of weeks, or keep coming back, it can be a sign of depression in the medical sense.

In its mildest form depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, major (clinical) depression can be life-threatening because it can lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviour, or the inability to accomplish even the simplest of life’s tasks.

When we’re depressed we are often feeling down or sad with a mind full of negative, repetitive thoughts which make it hard to concentrate, relax or sleep. Physical symptoms can include loss of appetite, insomnia, aches and pains, physical exhaustion and general ill health. But in many cases of moderate depression the symptoms may not always be easy to spot.

Many of us will experience symptoms of depression at some stage of our lives and it can be hard to cope with – but you are not alone. Those with access to an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can receive free, confidential information and support on a range of issues, including:

• Understanding the complex nature of depressive illnesses, including Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), postnatal depression and bipolar disorder (manic depression).
• Recognising the behaviours and symptoms which may include poor performance at work, mood swings, changes in eating habits, sleep problems, agitation, social isolation, etc.
• Understanding the effects on your health and wellbeing – and on family, friends and colleagues.
• Addressing the fear and embarrassment you may be experiencing.
• Care, treatment and therapy options.
• Dealing with a loved one’s depression.
• Details of specialist national organisations, plus local services and support groups.

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