It is common for individuals to say they ‘feel depressed’ when feeling low, however clinical depression is a serious mood disorder that can leave an individual feeling sad, lethargic and numb for weeks or months. Depression can be experienced in different ways by different individuals. For some, it can be a solo episode with an obvious trigger. For others, depression may develop slowly after a series of smaller challenges or occur for no apparent reason. Depression can occur at different levels, from mild to moderate or severe. It can also present in different forms, including bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or anxiety and depressive disorder. Depression can often be debilitating and is not a condition you can merely ‘get over.’ Accessing effective treatment can help you overcome depression.
2. What are the symptoms of depression?
3. What are the causes of depression?
4. How can I be sure that I have depression?
5. How is depression diagnosed?
6. How is depression treated?
8. How long does it take to treat depression?
9. Stigma and misunderstandings surrounding depression
10. Find a therapist through the Harley Therapy platform
What is depression?
While many of us may say we ‘feel depressed’ when feeling low, clinical depression is much more than occasionally feeling down. Depression is a serious mood disorder that can leave an individual feeling sad and numb for weeks or months. Depression can be experienced in different ways by different individuals. For some, it can be a one-off episode initiated by an obvious trigger. For others, depression may develop slowly after a series of smaller challenges or may occur for no apparent reason. Depression can occur at different levels, from mild to moderate or severe. It can also occur in different forms, including bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), or anxiety and depressive disorder.
Depression can often be debilitating and is not something someone can just ‘get over.’ Accessing the right treatment can help those with depression tackle its symptoms and challenges and make steps towards recovery.
What are the symptoms of depression?
Depression can affect people in different ways. Just because someone else you know experiences different or more challenging symptoms than your own, it is important not to underestimate how you may be feeling. All levels of depression are hard to manage on your own and must be taken seriously. If you are worried about someone else you know, it is important to remember many people hide their depression due to stigma and misunderstandings that unfortunately still surround depression.
Emotional and mental symptoms of depression may include:
Crying more often than usual
Continuous low mood such as guilt, pessimism, sadness, helplessness, and worthlessness.
Negative feelings towards oneself or others
Increased anxiety and/or panic attacks
Reduced motivation to participate in activities or difficulty in doing much at all
Loss of interest and enjoyment in life – even in things you usually love
Suicidal thoughts or intentions – a general sense that life is not worth living
Physical symptoms of depression may include:
Poor concentration and coordination
Difficulty remembering things
Sleeping more/sleeping less/disturbed sleep
Higher or lower appetite
A general heavy feeling that makes moving or speech slower than usual
Lack of libido
Exacerbation of pre-existing pain
What are the causes of depression?
Depression varies from person to person. A marked or obvious trigger may set off a depressive episode for some, such as family breakdown or losing their job. A series of small challenges may lead to a depressive episode in others, like breaking up with their partner, having a job application rejected, then being faced with a milestone birthday. For others, depression can appear out of the blue without apparent reason.
Is depression environmental, psychological, or biological? Does depression occur because of challenging events, because we had a difficult childhood that left us unable to deal with life’s challenges, or because we have a genetic tendency towards depression? In many cases, depression occurs due to a mixture of these factors.
Our long-term psychological health can be influenced by our early experiences, with individuals who experienced difficulties or trauma in childhood more likely to develop negative thought patterns and low self-esteem. This can result in mental challenges during adulthood, including becoming more sensitive to stressful events. Generally poor self-care, use of depressants like drugs and alcohol, and poor diet can also contribute to depression in adults.
How can I be sure that I have depression?
As depression has a wide variety of symptoms and triggers, it can be easy to confuse depression with other challenges that may need different treatment. An individual’s depression may also be a side effect of something else. It is recommended that you seek advice from a professional.
Other issues with symptoms similar to depression include:
Low mood: It is normal to feel sad after an unexpected challenge or upsetting experience. Depression has only been triggered when this low mood carries on for a much longer period of time, our thoughts become particularly negative, or an individual begins to believe that they will never be happy again.
Grief: The loss of a loved one can be a significant emotional challenge. Like depression, bereavement can lead to lack of sleep and appetite and sudden low mood. Grief is a healthy process of sadness that comes in waves. Grief does not usually lead to suicidal thoughts or the belief that you will never experience happiness again. However, grief can lead to low grade depression and can turn into clinical depression in some cases.
Anxiety: Anxiety and depression can develop hand-in-hand and are likely to be experienced in combination with each other. However, it is possible to experience anxiety without depressive symptoms. Individuals who experience fear and panic or continually feel threatened but do not feel hopeless or despair may only have an anxiety disorder.
Stress: Low moods can often occur when extreme demands are placed on your time and energy. These feelings of stress should only last for a few days or weeks, but depression may have developed if you find your low mood continuing after circumstances have been resolved.
Loneliness: A lack of social contact can lead to low moods if we find ourselves in isolation. However, an inability to feel connected to others may be a sign of moderate or severe depression.
Medicinal side effects: The use of many medications can lead to the development of depressive moods as a side effect. Check the patient information leaflet of any medicine or consult a doctor if you are concerned. Some corticosteroids, beta blockers, benzodiazepines, and certain cancer chemotherapeutic agents can cause low moods.
Health issues: Dementia, low blood sugar levels, severe head injuries, sleep issues, hormonal problems (especially thyroid and parathyroid), menstrual cycles, and menopause can all cause low moods.
How is depression diagnosed?
A healthcare professional, such as a GP or psychotherapist, will ask you a set of questions to help diagnose depression. A diagnosis is made by assessing the number and severity of your symptoms as well as how your feelings have been impacting upon your life, physical health, and thoughts. Answering these questions openly and honestly can help ensure an accurate diagnosis.
How is depression treated?
Treatment can be tailored to the individual by considering how depressed they may be and why they are depressed. The severity of an individual’s illness will determine the course of action, from counselling sessions to, in extreme cases, hospitalisation. Assessments such as the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) or the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) can be used during the initial stages of treatment to help identify important factors to be considered within a wider treatment plan.
Treatment must reflect the biological, environmental, and psychological causes of depression. For example, a biological imbalance of neurotransmitters can be treated with medication to balance out brain chemicals. Antidepressants can also be prescribed by your psychiatrist or GP if required.
Alternative methods of treatment such as talk therapy are important to consider rather than relying on medication as a sole treatment plan. In many cases, talk therapy itself is enough to effectively treat depressive moods.
Other kinds of therapy are also available to treat depression. These include: cognitive therapy, rational emotive behavioural therapy, counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), mindfulness, psychodynamic therapy, interpersonal therapy, behavioural activation, and problem solving.
You may also choose to attend individual therapy, couples therapy, group therapy, or a combination of these as part of your treatment plan.
As depression tends to reoccur, it is important to remember that its treatment is most effective if dealt with like an illness such as diabetes or high blood pressure. It can be tempting to stop treatment once you begin to feel better, but it is recommended that you have an ongoing relationship with a mental health professional to provide ongoing maintenance and lessen the chance of major relapse.
A qualified, professional psychotherapist will work with you to examine your thoughts and behaviours and improve how you feel. You will build a relationship based on trust, giving you the confidence to share your feelings and emotions with them. Your therapist will listen to all that you have to share with empathy and openness.
We ensure that all therapists on our platform are UK registered, insured, and professionally trained counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists and cognitive behaviour therapists. They will work with you to decide the pace of your treatment and how many sessions you might need. Therapists will not judge you, nor force you into following a particular course of action.
How long does it take to treat depression?
Estimated recovery time is unique to the individual. While it is possible to have one major depressive episode and recover within six months to a year through treatment such as talk therapy, many people will face depression as a recurring issue. This means that it may have to be dealt with repetitively and will take more time to recover from.
Research from the World Health Organisation (WHO) found that at least 50% of people will experience another depressive episode after their first major depressive episode. After the second and third episode, risk of relapse increases to 70% and 90%.
Stigma and misunderstandings surrounding depression
Like many mental health conditions, the causes and treatment of depression tend to be misunderstood by the wider public. Depression is a very common condition that is not within an individual’s control nor occurs as a result of a choice they have made.
There is also stigma surrounding the process of reaching out for help. Some individuals feel that discussing their depression or seeking help from a health professional is a sign of weakness. This is not the case. Seeking out help for mental health conditions takes a great deal of self-awareness and personal strength.
How to find a therapist for depression through the Harley Therapy platform
It can feel difficult to know how to find a good therapist for depression. In the UK, there are a number of membership bodies and types of therapists. To make things easier, we have listed therapists who specialise in depression and who we have checked are insured and qualified in one list here, so you can find book therapy for depression online with qualified, professional counsellors and psychotherapists easily and quickly. Just choose the time of session you want, read client reviews and connect with your preferred therapist for depression online, by phone or in person. We check that all of the therapists on this website are registered members of UK professional bodies, to ensure that all of our therapists have completed the professional training necessary to work as a licensed practitioner. To find a therapist for depression in London click here.
Recommended therapists for depression to speak to online or in person near you are listed below.