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Preventing depression

It's not always possible to prevent depression. However, preventing depression is not the only way to avoid the kind of impact a depressive episode can have on your life.

You can minimise the effect of depression by learning to recognise the signs and symptoms of depression. Then you can alert your doctor and get depression treatment when it's likely to be most helpful.

Symptoms of depression

Depression causes many different symptoms, which last for more than two weeks and affect your ability to pursue everyday interests and activities. A person with depression may have some or all of the symptoms listed here.

  • A depressed mood during most of the day, particularly in the morning
  • Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
  • Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping) almost every day
  • Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day -- a condition called anhedonia that can be indicated by a subjective account or by observations of significant others
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide (not just fearing death)
  • A sense of restlessness, known as psychomotor agitation, or being slowed down
  • Significant weight loss or gain

How can I prevent depression?

Although depression is a highly treatable condition, some forms of depression may not be preventable. That's because depression may be triggered by a chemical malfunctioning in the brain. However, the latest medical studies confirm that depression may often be alleviated or sometimes prevented with good health habits.

A healthy diet, regular exercise, taking time out for fun and relaxation, not overworking, and saving time to do things you enjoy may work together to prevent a depressed mood.

What are some of the common feelings associated with depression?

The NHS lists some feelings which may be signs of depression:

Psychological symptoms:

  • Continuous low mood or sadness
  • Feeling hopeless and helpless
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling tearful
  • Feeling guilt-ridden
  • Feeling irritable and intolerant of others
  • No motivation or interest in things
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • Having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself
  • Feeling anxious or worried

Physical symptoms:

  • Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Constipation
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Lack of energy or lack of interest in sex
  • Changes to menstrual cycle
  • Sleep problems

Social symptoms:

  • Not doing well at work
  • Taking part in fewer social activities, not seeing friends
  • Neglecting hobbies and interests
  • Difficulties in home and family life

While these are common symptoms of depression, they may also occur in patterns. For example, a person may experience depression with mania or hypomania -- a condition sometimes called manic depression or bipolar disorder. Or the symptoms may be seasonal as in the case of seasonal affective disorder.

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