Dr Nitin Shori By Medical Director Published:

Depression is a debilitating illness affecting quality of life, work, relationships and families. Sadly, mental health issues are sometimes stigmatised within families, the community and the wider population. This can make accepting treatment and asking for help very difficult for sufferers, but don’t suffer in silence. There are a whole range of strategies, treatments and medication which can help.

Exercise is one of the main treatments for mild depression. Physical activity releases serotonin, a chemical associated with mood. A deficit of serotonin can result in depression.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be very helpful, and attempts to identify and change the individual thought processes that may lead to depression. These range from online, to group, to individual sessions – sometimes one-to-one interaction through psychotherapy and counselling can be especially useful at the start to help you properly open up without fear of being judged.

Sometimes in conjunction with or instead of talking therapies, your GP might suggest an antidepressant medicine. It can take several weeks for them to have an effect, with many patients feeling the same or only slightly better. Any real improvement often takes three to six weeks to become apparent. As with any medication, they can cause side-effects in some patients which may include appetite changes, tiredness or nausea as well as changes in weight. These effects very much depend on which one you try and how your body responds. Since antidepressants are prescription-only, you must consult your GP, but remember that with online services like Pharmacy2U you can manage all your repeat prescriptions online or on their app, which can help alleviate anxiety when you’re feeling most vulnerable.

Depression comes in many forms, and often alongside other physical illnesses. Common forms include postnatal depression, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) which surfaces in winter. Grief can be confused with depression, and grief can certainly trigger depressive episodes. Grief itself is a specific response to one event, and not generally an ongoing mental health condition.

If you believe you are experiencing depression, talk to your GP, or contact a service like the Samaritans who offer a free and confidential service if you are feeling hopeless. Most importantly, don’t bottle it up. Depression is a real illness that can affect anyone. While depression often passes naturally, seeking help can only speed the process.

Dr. Nitin Shori is a GP with the NHS and Pharmacy2U, an online service which provides free, fast and convenient delivery of NHS repeat prescriptions.