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					Feeling down …
Or is it depression? Statistics show that one in four women and one in ten men are likely to suffer from depression. It strikes in different forms and although there are some common symptoms, individuals may experience it in different ways. Even though it must be one of the most spoken about conditions, it is estimated that only 50 per cent of people who suffer from depression seek professional help. Depression is often missed and never diagnosed, so what is depression? What is depression? Depression is a condition in which the individual has feelings of sadness, loss of enjoyment and a lack of drive or interest. Feelings of bad–temper, irritability and anxiety could also be caused by depression. Sometimes depression can be resolved with time but for others it may linger in the long–term. Depression ranges from mild to severe and can be life threatening. In severe cases a person might feel that there is no point in living and decide to act on those feelings. This is why health professionals always treat depression. Up to 15% of people with severe untreated depression may attempt suicide. What are the symptoms? People with depression would have four or more of these physical and psychological symptoms. Physical symptoms:
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Changes in appetite: either over–eating or a loss of appetite. This will be accompanied by weight gain or weight loss Sleep problems: either difficulty falling asleep or waking during the night. Some people may need to sleep more Tiredness and a lack of energy Muscular pain or tension Headaches General loss of interest in physical appearance Agitation or restlessness Loss of sexual drive

Psychological symptoms:
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Lack of concentration Poor memory, usually short–term Loss of interest in activities that were previously enjoyed Feelings of guilt, hopelessness and worthlessness Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of death Anxiety

What is the treatment? There are a number of options for treatment of depression. It is important to be well informed on all the options that are available so that a treatment plan that the individual feels comfortable with is decided on.
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If you suffer from four or more of the above symptoms, it is important to speak to a professional (your GP or a psychologist) about how you are feeling. Many of these symptoms can also be attributed to other medical problems so it is important to have them checked. Together with the right treatment plan, there are certain lifestyle changes you can make that will help you overcome depression. Exercise Research has shown that regular physical activity can help combat depression. Endorphins that are released during exercise lift your mood, give you more energy and provide a sense of well–being. About thirty minutes of exercise 4 to 5 times a week will do. The secret to regular exercise is to find an activity you really enjoy. You are more likely to stick to a routine and you will also have fun at the same time. Quit smoking Smoking is an attempt to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Rather than harming your health and weakening your immune system, tackle the depression head–on and get help that will work in the long– term. Cut down on alcohol consumption Alcohol is another failed coping mechanism that doesn’t work. Besides the danger of addiction, alcohol contributes to worsening many of the symptoms caused by depression. Eat healthy food A strong body makes a strong mind. Fuel your body with the right energy to help you cope with the feelings of depression. How can one prevent depression? Although the causes of depression are not always known, there are certain actions you can take as part of your everyday lifestyle that will help prevent depression:
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Be in tune with your feelings. Spend time everyday thinking about how you are doing and acknowledge what feelings and thoughts you have. Don’t bottle–up feelings. Feelings need to be expressed. They don’t simply go away. Find a way to vent feelings whether it’s talking to a friend, taking your dog for a walk or spending time to relax on your own. Use all the support systems you have. Don’t feel that asking for help is a problem, whether it’s from family, friends or professionals. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Use past experiences to guide you. Be aware of situations in your past that have led you to feel down. How did you cope in that situation? Know what your limits are and when you need to call on the support troupes. Try to have a positive outlook on life. View obstacles and knocks in life as opportunities for growth and personal strengthening.

Tim Harkness, Energi

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