How do you know if you have depression?

Everyone has low periods. But unexplained feelings of unhappiness or constant low moods may be a sign of depression.

Though the conversation around depression is happening more often now, it’s still seen as a trivial matter to some, though it can affect individual lives for weeks, months and years.

Stephen Buckley, from mental health charity Mind, defines depression as, ‘feeling low for a couple of weeks or more without much change in mood, or such feelings returning over and over again.’

He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Depression affects everyone differently, but common symptoms include feeling restless, numb and disconnected, irritable, seeing no point in the future, and gaining no pleasure from things you might have previously enjoyed.

‘Severe depression can be debilitating and even life-threatening, as it may cause suicidal thoughts.’

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we’re answering some of the top mental health questions asked on Google.

One of the things we’re looking at today is depression, which can affect one in six people.

Physical symptoms include feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains.

You might also feel guilty, unmotivated, anxious, unable to make decisions or, in severe cases, have suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself.

The symptoms of depression range from mild to severe.

Some of the physical manifestations of the condition can look like moving or speaking more slowly than usual, changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased), constipation, and changes to your periods.

There is a social cost of depression too. This can include not focusing at work, avoiding family and friends, neglecting hobbies and interests.

But there are ways to manage depression and treatments are available, which usually involves a combination of self-help, talking therapies and medicines.

The treatment that will be recommended will be based on the type of depression you have.

Doctors might recommend exercise, self-help (i.e meditating, reading) or antidepressants.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave –  is also available on the NHS.

There are also things you can do day-to-day to manage depression.

Psychotherapist Amanda Perl tells Metro.co.uk how you can practice mindfulness: ‘Find and create the habit of praising your positive qualities.

‘Spend some time reflecting upon what brings you joy. Try out something new and challenging regularly.

‘Take gentle exercise every day and make sure you have enough hours of rest and sleep every day.

She adds: ‘Learn to be honest and do more than just say “no”.  Talk about your true thoughts and feelings and stop pretending to feel ok when you fall into the black hole of depression.’

Amanda adds that you should seek psychotherapy to deal with past trauma and current issues.

‘Continue to reflect on what makes you happy or sad, what you want that you don’t have now, what is your true passion and ultimately what is your purpose?’

Speaking to your GP might seem daunting but it’s the first step to getting the help and support that’s right for you. Mind has produced a guide on how to speak to your GP about mental health which you can access here.

Mental Health questions answered

Google’s most-asked mental health questions in 2019 so far:

According to Google, the most frequently asked ‘how to’ questions relating to mental health this year so far are:

1. How to relieve stress
2. How to help anxiety
3. How to stop worrying
4. How to stop a panic attack
5. How to deal with stress
6. How to cope with depression
7. How to know if you have anxiety
8. How to know if you have depression
9. How to help someone with PTSD
10. How to overcome social anxiety
11. How to get help for depression
12. How to treat OCD
13. How to help a depressed friend
14. How to overcome a phobia
15. How to treat PTSD

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