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This month brings us ‘Blue Monday’ (21st January) which is considered the most depressing day of the year. This particular date in the calendar makes it a good opportunity to talk about depression, and what to do when you’re feeling ‘blue’.

What is depression?

Depression is a mental health condition characterised by feelings of unhappiness, hopelessness and anxiety. We all have moments when we feel a bit down, but depression is when you feel continuously low. Symptoms can include aches and pains, tiredness, losing interest in socialising, feeling tearful, losing your appetite and having a low/non-existent libido.

Talk about it

Some people can feel so desperate that they consider suicide or self-harm. It’s important if you are feeling like this to seek professional help.

Treatment

If you have mild depression your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes and talking therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help. For cases of moderate to severe depression, prescriptions for anti-depressants may be given.

Lifestyle changes

It’s always worth bearing in mind that lifestyle changes can support your mental health. These are things like:

  • Healthy diet: eating healthily is shown to help maintain mental health
  • Drink less: alcohol is a depressant and drinking it can make you feel worse
  • Exercise: there’s evidence that exercising for 20 minutes daily can lift your mood by releasing natural endorphins
  • Stay in touch: depression can be isolating but keeping in touch your support network can improve your mood
  • Routine: sticking to a sleep routine and regular meals can help your mood

If you are feeling low or depressed, you can call NHS 111 or go to A&E. Alternatively, The Samaritans have a 24-hour hotline (call 116 123)