This month brings us ‘Blue Monday’, January 21, which is considered the most depressing day of the year.
This particular date in the calendar makes it a good opportunity to talk about depression, and what to do when you’re feeling ‘blue’.
What is depression?
Depression is a mental health condition characterised by feelings of unhappiness, hopelessness and anxiety.
We all have moments when we feel a bit down, but depression is when you feel continuously low.
Symptoms can include aches and pains, tiredness, losing interest in socialising, feeling tearful, losing your appetite and having a low/non-existent libido.
Talk about it
Some people can feel so desperate that they consider suicide or self-harm. It’s important if you are feeling like this to seek professional help.
If you have mild depression your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes and talking therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help.
For cases of moderate to severe depression, prescriptions for anti-depressants may be given.
It’s always worth bearing in mind that lifestyle changes can support your mental health. These are things like:
Healthy diet: eating healthily is shown to help maintain mental health
Drink less: alcohol is a depressant and drinking it can make you feel worse
Exercise: there’s evidence that exercising for 20 minutes daily can lift your mood by releasing natural endorphins
Stay in touch: depression can be isolating but keeping in touch your support network can improve your mood
Routine: sticking to a sleep routine and regular meals can help your mood
If you are feeling low or depressed, you can call NHS 111 or go to A&E. Alternatively, The Samaritans have a 24-hour hotline (call 116 123)
By Alexandra Phelan
Dr Phelan is a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U, an online service which provides free, fast and convenient delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions.