World Health Day, celebrated on 7th
April each year to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health
Organisation (WHO), promotes a different health topic each year. This year, the theme is depression,
specifically ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’.
campaign gives us the opportunity to promote the importance of openness when it
comes to mental health, openness not only on the victim’s part but from the
general public. A better understanding of what depression is, and how it can be
prevented and treated, will help reduce the stigma associated with the
condition, and lead to more people seeking help.
Depression affects people
differently and it affects people of all ages from all walks of life. Some may
feel helpless or numb, have low self-esteem, or become more irritable or
pessimistic. Others could experience physical symptoms such as a change in
appetite, trouble sleeping or increased tiredness, and physical aches and
pains. Even the simplest of tasks can become incredibly difficult. At worst,
depression can lead to suicide, now the second leading cause of death among
The most important thing to
remember is that depression is treatable. A number of lifestyle changes have
been proven to help people manage the symptoms including exercise, diet and
As the title of the WHO campaign
suggests, though, ‘talking’ should be the first point of call for someone
suffering with low mood. Whether it be talking to a family member, a friend, or
a colleague, this will undoubtedly help. The saying ‘a problem shared is a
problem halved’ exists for a reason.
Four top tips
for dealing with the symptoms of depression
Exercise can have an instant
uplifting effect on your mood. It floods the brain with mood-enhancing
endorphins and releases the stresses and strains of the day.
Any type of exercise is useful,
as long as it suits you and do enough of it. But do limit yourself to exercise
that is personally enjoyable as this means you will be far more likely to
develop a routine and stick to it.
Eating a healthy and balanced
diet is very important. Too much sugar, fat, caffeine and alcohol could leave
you feeling lethargic and lower your mood. Some people don't feel like eating when they're
depressed and are at risk of becoming underweight. Others find comfort in food
and can put on excess weight.
For some people, alcohol can become a problem. You may
drink more than usual as a way of coping with or hiding your emotions, or just
to fill time. But alcohol won't help you solve your problems and could also
make you feel more depressed.
Traditional herbal medicines have
also had a long association in helping with the symptoms of depression. St.
John’s Wart, derived from the aerial parts of the St John’s Wort herb,
could lift your mood and relieve anxiety, while passion flower, which has a
calming effect, could relieve panicky feelings and help you feel more in control.
It is common for people suffering
with low mood to withdraw from their social life. When you next feel yourself
wanting to cancel plans with a loved one, try and think back to why you made
those plans in the first place.
Retaining a social network will
provide you with support when you are feeling low. Just remember that, whatever
you might think, there is always someone there who wants to help and is happy