This week marks Depression Awareness Week in the UK. A campaign organised by Depression Alliance to help people understand more about the condition, it’s a vital part of the calendar, not just for those affected by it, but for everyone. Mental Health Foundation estimate that at least 25% of women and 10% men will seek treatment for depression at some stage.
Despite having worked in general practice for a number of years now, I still find myself surprised by how much people underestimate the effects of depression. Contrary to popular belief, the trigger doesn’t necessarily have to be a life-changing event. Problems which have arisen gradually, or which have been causing distress for some time, can often be the cause.
With this in mind, I would like to draw attention to some of those seemingly everyday situations which, although you might not think it, can be contributing factors when it comes to depression. Below is also a guide to the steps you can take to overcome them:
1. Work-related Stress
It’s only natural to feel some degree of strain every now and again at work. But sustained pressure in the workplace can take its toll. The Health and Safety Executive reported that over the course of 2012, more than 400,000 UK people with work-related stress thought it was damaging their health.
Much of the time, work-related pressure stems from the level of expectation between employer and employee. If you feel as though your workload is too great, sit down with your line manager and discuss it with them. Remember that if you’re overworked, the longer you live with it, the more likely it is to affect your mental well-being.
2. Relationship Issues
Be they sexual or otherwise, problems in a relationship can be a source of depression for some. Left unaddressed, a vicious cycle may manifest, affecting both partners. In many cases, the more these issues develop, the harder they become to talk about.
Opening up to each other and talking about the problem is the first step. Share your feelings in a calm manner, listen to each other, and take turns to speak. Those who can’t resolve the situation this way may choose to seek couples therapy.
Credit and lending are a common fixture in our lives, but the more that debts mount, the more likely they are to cause anxiety. It’s particularly easy to feel stress if you’ve recently become unemployed, and have bills to pay.
Addressing your money troubles in a practical manner is often the best way to handle the situation. Several organisations, such as National Debtline, can help those in trouble and provide free guidance. However, you should speak to those close to you or approach a therapist for help if you feel money problems are causing you stress.
The temptation to resort to alcohol, or even drugs, can be amplified when times are hard. However, it’s a dangerous road to travel down, and the consumption of such substances can lead to mental and physical dependency, and of course, depression.
Let your GP know if you think you’re developing symptoms of addiction. They’ll be able to suggest a helpful course of action, and offer advice on joining a support group.
Chronic pain and immobility doesn’t just cause physical discomfort. It can be a major factor in the onset of depression too. In fact, the two are often linked. According to WebMD, nearly two thirds of those with depression also display symptoms of chronic pain.
If you are dealing with chronic pain or are recovering from surgery, the best thing to do is develop an exercise plan with your doctor. You’ll feel the physical benefits, but also the mental benefits as well.
6. Eating Disorders
The effects of conditions such as anorexia and bulimia shouldn’t be underestimated. In addition to causing physical unwellness, eating disorders can have a severe affect on a person’s mental state too.
Going to your GP, or talking to close friends or family about the condition is key to overcoming these conditions, and preventing them from causing depression. Specialist help, in the form of dietary counselling, can be a helpful option in such cases.
You should never consider depression as something which is always triggered by a dramatic emotional episode, as this isn’t always so. Regular, everyday problems, like the above, can be the cause too.
If you think depression is affecting you or someone you know, your GP can help.