Recently the Employee Assistance
Programme has been initiating discussion on mental health to highlight the
importance of such a common mental health disorder. Depression is a common
mental disorder that presents with symptoms that include depressed mood, loss
of interest or pleasure in once enjoyable activities, feelings of guilt or low
self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.
The World Health Organisation in 2000
cited depression as the fourth leading contributor to the global burden of
disease and this is projected to rise to second place by 2020 (WHO 2010). So it’s safe to say that depression is more
than just being sad or having a few bad days. Does this sound familiar?
A global issue
Depression is common, whether it is
a single episode or Major Depressive Disorder, and affects about 121 million
people worldwide, including Cayman.
Depression cannot be willed away
any more than heart disease or diabetes can. It’s caused by chemical changes in
the body, which cannot be overcome simply by positive thinking and grim
determination. Given how much stigma is still attached to mental illness,
seeking help for depression is an act of courage and strength, not weakness, on
There are a number of factors that
may increase the chance of depression. One of the primary causes that most
might identify with is major life events. Even good events such as starting a
new job, graduating, getting married, or having a baby can lead to depression.
So can relocating, losing a job or income, getting divorced, or retiring. With
recent salary cuts and job losses, it would not be surprising that more people
are depressed, or that someone they know is.
Other factors that may cause or
contribute to depression are:
Abuse. Past physical, sexual, or
emotional abuse can cause depression later in life.
Conflict. Depression may result
from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.
Death or a loss. Sadness or grief
from the death or loss of a loved one, though a natural reaction, can also
increase the risk of depression.
Serious illness. Sometimes
depression coexists with a major illness or is a reaction to the illness.
Substance abuse. Nearly 30 per cent
of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression.
Many people are suffering in
silence as they do not realise that what they’re experiencing is an illness;
they may feel alone and unable to ask for help and they feel it is a weakness that
needs to be hidden. But it’s not a weakness or sign of poor character; after
all if you could ‘pull yourself together’ you would.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Thankfully, depression is
treatable. Treatment approaches your doctor may suggest include antidepressant
medications and/or a ‘talking treatment’ such as counselling or Cognitive
Behaviour Therapy. In addition to this, one of the easiest and least expensive
methods is exercise. Research shows that exercise can help a person fight mild
to moderate depression. Exercise reduces the amount of immune system chemicals
that worsen the depression and increases the temperature of the body, which
then Some other tips that may help relieve depressive symptoms are:
Support groups- attending local or
online support groups is a great way to vent and communicate with others who
are experiencing depression
Don’t isolate – Make sure you call
a friend or family member that you feel close to every day. Or, if you feel too
down to do that, ask them to call you every day. Once you get into that
routine, try going out for coffee or even a meal every now and again
Self care – focus on getting proper
sleep, meals and sunlight. Studies have shown that those who don’t get enough
sunlight can find that they normally get more depressed.
Break up tasks- It is easy to feel
overwhelmed so divide tasks into small manageable steps
Depressive disorders can vary in
severity. The length of a depressive episode is influenced by the person’s
ability or willingness to get treatment.
If you or someone you know are
struggling with depression and would like to speak with a counsellor call the
EAP. To schedule a confidential appointment, contact The Employee Assistance
Programme, at 949-9559.