Depression is a very common presentation in General Practice; it consists primarily of low mood which can be short-term, recurrent or longstanding and can be associated with other issues like stress and anxiety. Although most of us experience low mood from time to time, depression is when these thoughts of low mood and associated symptoms last longer than 2 weeks.
People can present with low mood, poor sleep/appetite and feelings of guilt or 'uselessness'. They may present with feelings of apathy, helplessness/hopelessness, pessimism and anhedonia (the inability to enjoy things as one used to), as well as poor concentration, tearfulness, low libido, weight loss and irritability. The symptoms are obviously varied and can be different from person to person, the important to thing is to recognise the signs and to be able to obtain support and help.
It is often difficult to pinpoint one exact cause of depression, however there are usually a combination of factors which can influence whether of not we suffer from depression. Common factors include genetic's, childhood events and individual personality.
Depression can be brought on by many factors; work or general life stresses, financial difficulties, relationship problems or the loss of a loved one (reactive depression) but often we are unable to find one obvious trigger.
In acute and mild forms of depression medication is typically avoided, instead interventions like support groups, Education, CBT and simple problem solving are recommended but monitoring for worsening symptoms or persistent depression is important.
If the depression is persistent or more severe, a trial of medication can be considered to be used in conjunction with the above measures.
The important thing is being able to recognise the signs of depression and to be able to get support and help, often being able to speak to a medical professional about the symptoms and problems can help to provide a diagnosis and develop a management plan.