Am I depressed? Treating and identifying the signs of depression

Written by: Dr Abrar Hussain
Published:
Edited by: Bronwen Griffiths

Depression is a mood disorder characterised by low mood for a persistent amount of time, having a significant effect on your everyday life. Depression, amongst other mental health conditions, is fairly common, and it is thought that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. However, treatments and therapies are available to help people struggling with depression to cope. Dr Abrar Hussain, a leading psychiatrist, explains in detail what depression is and what can be done to beat it.

What is depression?

It is important to remember that depression is not the same as feeling sad. Feeling sad is a normal experience; it is a normal response to something that we might have lost or something that is troubling us and upsetting us. Depression, on the other hand, is a medical condition.

Depression is a clinical disorder and it is characterised by:

  • Feeling low in mood
  • Not being able to enjoy things
  • Feeling easily fatigued
  • Difficulty with sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • A lack of concentration

In addition, if depression prolongs and persists, people start having difficulties with their relationships and productivity. In some cases, depression also presents with what we call cognitive symptoms. These include a sense of hopelessness, worthlessness and pessimism. People can also experience a sense of guilt and the world can look a lot bleaker in their eyes. Lastly, it is not uncommon for people with depression to experience thoughts of suicide and self-harm.

Top tips for beating depression

There are some gentle strategies that are quite helpful for depression.

These include:

  • Having a good diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Establishing a good sleep pattern
  • Having regular social contact
  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs
  • Managing a healthy work-life balance

There are two specific treatment approaches for depression:

  1. The first is by using medication to target two particular chemicals in the brain: norepinephrine and serotonin. Based on your particular set of symptoms, a good clinical assessment will be able to tell you which is the most helpful medication.
  2. The second approach is by use of therapy. The therapy model used will be based on your experience and your symptoms. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps to challenge negative thoughts, cognitive analytic therapy (CAT), which helps with relationships, and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), which helps with traumatic memories which are still causing the patient difficulties.

 

If you are experiencing any changes in mood, or traits described here, make an appointment with an expert to seek advice or treatment.

By Dr Abrar Hussain
Psychiatry

  • Accredited Cognitive Analytic Therapist
  • EMDR Europe Accredited Practitioner.


Dr Abrar Hussain is a consultant psychiatrist based in West London and Berkshire with a wealth of experience and expertise in many areas of his field. His specialties include depression, anxiety, traumatic stress and personality disorders, amongst many other areas of psychiatry. He has a special interest in the assessment and management of medically unexplained symptoms and functional neurological disorders. He runs a specialist service within the NHS for patients with co-morbid physical and psychological distress.

He completed his medical training in 2002 as a gold medallist and has since gone on to complete his post graduate training in psychiatry in London. He was awarded Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2009. He is on the General Medical Council Specialist Register for General Psychiatry and Liaison Psychiatry.

In addition to his training in pharmacological (medicines) management, he is trained in psychological therapies. He is an Accredited Therapist in Cognitive Analytic Therapy (CAT), a form of psychological therapy based on relationships with self and others. He is also an EMDR Europe Accredited Practitioner. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapy is a powerful approach aimed at processing traumatic experiences. 

As well as working full-time as a consultant psychiatrist, Dr Hussain dedicates time to mentoring for the Thames Valley and Wessex Leadership Academy. He leads training for junior psychiatrists sitting the Royal College of Psychiatrists examination as the Course Director for Cognitions for CASC course (www.cognitionsforcasc.co.uk).

He is actively involved in research as the Principal Investigator in the national multi-centre CODES trial. He has presented in national and international conferences and won prizes for his work. He has been invited to speak at a number of regional and national events. He has published several scientific papers in peer reviewed journals.

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