Reem El-Sharkawi is a GP Pharmacist, part of the Bay Cluster Network.

Depression is a common mental health problem that causes people to experience low mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.

We all have times when our mood might be low. Usually these feeling pass in due course. If these feelings start interfering with your daily life and do not pass after a few weeks, then it could be a sign that you’re suffering with depression.

An estimated 1 in 6 people report a common mental problem in any given week.

Furthermore, 3.3% of the population aged 16 and over in England, Scotland and Wales are estimated to have experiences symptoms of depression in the past week.

Despite the fast-growing rates of anxiety and depression reported over the past few years, mental health continues to carry a strong social stigma that prevents people from seeking treatment and asking for help.

Due to the negative attitudes, many people experiencing poor mental health symptoms feel ashamed and alone in the world.

 What are the common signs and symptoms of depression?

  • Down, upset or tearful
  • Restless, agitated or irritable
  • Guilty, worthless
  • Empty and numb
  • Isolated and unable to relate to others
  • Finding no pleasure in life or things you’d usually enjoy
  • Low self-confidence or self-esteem
  • Hopeless and despair
  • Thoughts of deliberate self-harm

Symptoms of depression can cause changes in behaviour:

  • Avoiding social events or activities
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Loss of libido
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Insomnia or disturbed sleep
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Loss of appetite or weight changes
  • Physical aches and pains

If you are feeling these symptoms it is important to seek medical help. A range of treatments are available depending on the type of depression you may be diagnosed with.

Mild depression

Your GP may suggest waiting for a short time to see if it gets better, they may monitor your progress (watchful waiting).


There is evidence that exercise can help depression. For example, some find group exercise classes helpful or solo exercise.


Some find talking through their feeling can be helpful. You can talk to family, friends, GP or GP pharmacist. Self-help books or online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which aims to help you understand your thoughts and feelings, are also available. Furthermore, mental health apps are available also.


This is a form of therapy that helps you think about the problems you’re experiencing in your life and hopefully helps to find ways to deal with them.


These are medicines that treat symptoms of depression which your GP or GP pharmacist will explain in greater detail.

 Mental Health teams

If you have severe depression, you may be referred to a mental health team.

In a recent CBS interview with Oprah WinfreyMeghan Markle talked about depression and thoughts of suicide during pregnancy. It is hoped that her openness of her mental health experiences will raise awareness of these common mental health problems and more importantly encourage those experiencing them to seek help. So please if you have any concerns then please see your GP or GP Pharmacist for help and advice.

Reem El-Sharkawi

Original article from

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