The Public Health Agency (PHA) is using the opportunity of World Health Day to encourage people to talk about depression.
World Health Day is celebrated on 7 April every year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization. The theme for 2017 is depression.
“The word ‘depression’ is used in many different ways,” said Fiona Teague, Health and Wellbeing Improvement Manager with the PHA.
“Everyone can feel sad or down from time to time, but most people manage to cope and can recover without professional help. However, everyday ‘blues’ or sadness is not depression. A person with clinical depression will feel depressed for longer periods of time (at least two weeks) and this will disrupt things in their life such as relationships or the ability to carry out their work.”
Although there are several different types of depression, there are a number of common symptoms. It is important to know that not every person who has depression will have all of these symptoms or the same severity of symptoms. A person with clinical depression will have at least two of the following symptoms for at least two weeks:
• an unusually sad mood that does not go away;
• loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable;
• tiredness and lack of energy.
In addition, the person can have other symptoms, such as:
• loss of confidence in themselves or poor self-esteem;
• feeling guilty when they are not really at fault;
• thoughts of self-harm and/ or suicide;
• difficulty making decisions and concentrating;
• moving more slowly or becoming agitated and unable to settle;
• having difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much;
• unusual weight loss, or for some people unusual weight gain.
“If you’re feeling like you can’t cope, you should know that you are not alone and you can get through it,” said Fiona Teague.
“Talking to a friend or family or your GP can be the first step.
It can be hard for many people to open up and admit that they are feeling low, but talking to someone you trust can make a big difference. People with depression can and do recover and talking to someone about how you are feeling could be the first step towards recovery.”
More information on looking after mental health and the support which is available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info
You can also talk to your GP for advice.
If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a confidential service where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info