What is depression?

Depression is a mental disorder that is characterised by depressed mood, loss of interests, feelings of guilt, sleep or appetite disturbances, low energy or focus. It is more than a period of unhappiness or sadness. Everyone experiences these feelings at some point but in depression the intensity of these emotions can manifest many symptoms that can have a detrimental effect on quality of life


Causes of depression

Depression can develop in response to many different triggers, including the following:


Symptoms of depression

It is common for depression to develop gradually. Presentation can be complex and vary significantly between individuals which can further complicate diagnosis. Some of the common symptoms of depression include the following:


Treatment of depression

1. Counselling – allows patients to talk through their problems with trained professionals and formulate a plan to overcome them

2. Cognitive behavioural therapy – aims to alter the way a patient thinks and in doing so allows patients to identify patterns of behaviour or thoughts that may be precipitating symptoms of depression and alter them accordingly

3. Drug treatment options – include SSRIs, MAOIs, tricyclic antidepressants etc. There is little to choose between the different classes of antidepressants in terms of efficacy but SSRIs are safer in overdose and have a more favourable side effect profile than the other classes of antidepressants so should be considered first line for treatment of depression


Drug treatment options

1. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors

2. Tricyclic antidepressants

3. Monamine-oxidase Inhbitors (MAOIs)

4. Other antidepressants