Depression can affect people of all ages in different ways causing a wide variety of symptoms, including continuous low mood or sadness, and feeling hopeless and helpless.
The Covid pandemic has taken its toll on the mental health of many, with restrictions and lockdowns exacerbating symptoms in those already suffering with depression, as well as seeing people reach out for help for the first time.
Around one in six (17%) adults experienced some form of depression in summer 2021 (21 July to 15 August), according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This is a decrease since early 2021 (21% during 27 January to 7 March), but is still above levels before the Covid pandemic, which were then at 10%.
NationalWorld hears from those living with depression, the available treatment options and where to go for support if you’re struggling.
‘On the darkest of days I was alone, head shouting awful things at me’
Mike Parsons’s depression has been a “lifelong struggle” after first beginning in his teenage years.
He said that from his experience mental illness “is a very personal thing, very intimate, a taboo, the feeling of failure, the late nights wide awake, the anxiety, the fear of making it worse”.
Mike said that although he has an amazing family, “on the darkest of days I was alone, head shouting awful things at me”.
“Not wanting to worry my family, I put a brave face on - it was exhausting,” he added.
Annie L, who has also suffered from the mental health condition for a long time, said that for her, depression feels like a fog.
She said: “I can usually see it in the distance. I brace myself and wait. Then one day I wake up and things that used to be colourful and familiar are just dark silhouettes. It’s lonely.”
But for Mike, who “put barriers up to ‘protect others’ from finding out how bad my depression had gotten”, he slowly came to the realisation that sharing his thoughts helped him to “see them for what they really are - thoughts”.
Although Mike said that being open about mental health is “far from easy”, he added that it is “incredibly important to talk about the horrors in your mind presents” in order to be able to “identify them for what they are”.
Mike said: “If there is any hope I can give, it is that for every individual, there is something that will help balance out the dark days and make things more manageable”.
This can include finding the right combination of things that work for you, ranging from therapy to medication and activities to spending time with friends and family.
He added: “Knowing that we are together as a collective experiencing this, and that we have the support to find better ways to manage our symptoms - is something that keeps me going every day”.
‘Talking about how you’re feeling can help put things into perspective’
For those suffering from depression, treatment can involve a combination of lifestyle changes, talking therapies and medicine, according to the NHS website.
However, the treatment recommended to you will be based on the type of depression you have, as this can range from mild, mild to moderate and moderate to severe.
Daniel Månsson, clinical psychologist and co-founder of Flow Neuroscience, has worked with a range of clients struggling with depression at different stages in their lifetimes.
Mr Månsson said: “We need to push towards having more treatment options that increase access and allow autonomy over managing depression so that more people can start their journey to recovery”.
But Damon, a Samaritans listening volunteer, who talks to people living with depression frequently, among other mental health challenges, urges people to speak to others about how they are feeling and reach out for support.
He said that suicidal thoughts “can be complex, frightening, and confusing so it’s important to remember that they’re not permanent, you’re not alone, and help and support is available”.
“The past 18 months have been incredibly challenging, creating new pressures on top of exacerbating already existing problems. Talking about how you’re feeling can help put things into perspective and help you to feel more positive about the future,” Damon said.
If you need help and support you can contact the Samaritans 24/7, 365 days a year on the free phone line number 116 123.
NationalWorld and Laudable have also launched a new podcast, The Reset Room, which offers wellbeing and mindset advice and tips.
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