Depression is an illness that directly affects more people than you may realise, with the World Health Organisation stating that more than 264 million individuals across the globe currently suffer from depression.

Due to this statistic, coupled with the fact that suicide rates are climbing in the United Kingdom with 5,691 people committing suicide in England and Wales in 2019, it is crucial that people start raising their own awareness of this illness and the episodes it can bring about.

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A depressive episode, from within the context of a larger/long-lasting depressive disorder, is a stretch of time that is characterised by a generally subdued feeling as well as other symptoms of depression lasting for 2 weeks or more in an extreme capacity.

When an individual is in the throes of a depressive episode their behaviours and mood can be massively altered — however, there are some ways that you can try and help to improve your mood during these periods.

Below, we will be looking at some of the most common questions and worries about depressive episodes, answering the likes of “How long do depressive episodes last,” “What is a depressive episode,” as well as telling you how to help someone during a depressive episode.

Depressive Episode Symptoms

A depressive episode can last for a period of time from a couple of weeks to several months. There are some scattered examples of depressive episodes lasting even longer than this, but those can be very extreme cases.

While some of the symptoms of a depressive episode are similar to those of a more general depressive disorder, the symptoms experienced during a depressive episode are generally more intense than the alternative. Some of these symptoms include the likes of:

  • Restlessness/anxiousness
  • Irritability/frustration at the world around you
  • Feelings of fatigue, both muscular and emotional
  • Feelings of guilt and/or worthlessness
  • General feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or helplessness
  • Sudden fluctuations in sleeping patterns
  • Changes in weight and/or appetite
  • Reduction of interest in activities that once brought you pleasure
  • Difficulty retaining concentration
  • Suicidal thoughts/ideation
  • Physical pains that you cannot ascertain a clear reason for

If you have not sought out a doctor for a diagnosis for any of the above symptoms and you have been experiencing several of them for an extended period of time then you may be suffering from depression and should seek medical advice.

Types Of Depressive Episodes And Depressive Illnesses

Depression can be a far from simple illness to diagnose and treat. Some of the various mental health conditions that can lead to depressive episodes include the like of:

  • Psychotic depression can cause both symptoms of psychosis and depression. This can be quite uncommon but very serious.
  • Persistent depressive disorders will typically experience most of the above symptoms consistently for a two year period (at minimum).
  • Bipolar disorder can also cause people to experience elongated periods of depression. Depressive episodes, as well as manic episodes, can be managed with therapy and medication.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been known to cause its sufferers to exhibit symptoms of depression during the winter months.
  • Postpartum depression can cause new mothers to exhibit severe periods of depression.

Now let’s have a look at some ways that you can help to deal with a depressive episode.

Tracking Your Triggers And Monitoring Your Own Symptoms

The severity of depressive episodes can fluctuate massively, and so it is important to be always aware of your own mental health.

Keeping a diary and even rating on a scale from 0-10 on how you are currently feeling can be useful to help manage your own mental health as well as learning how to spot triggers that have lead you into a depressive episode.

Triggers of depressive episodes are often unique to the individual suffering from the depressive episodes, and they can vary from being incredible specific actions/activities to more general situations and/or locations. Other possible triggers can often include the likes of:

  • Significant and/or traumatic life events, such as a sudden loss, divorce, being the victim of an assault, or a car accident.
  • Changes, sudden or otherwise, to your daily routines.
  • Bad diet/eating habits
  • Stress
  • Certain medications
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse 
  • Abusive people in your environment

Understand That Your Depression Is Nothing To Be Ashamed Of

Educating yourself more about the intricacies of depressive disorders can assist people in dealing with their burgeoning, or long-standing, conditions. Depression is a severe and genuine mental health disorder that affects many people from all various walks of life.

It is not a sign of weakness or a personal shortcoming. Accepting that this is not something that you ought to be ashamed of is very important, and can help to manage symptoms alongside lifestyle alterations such as improved diet, exercise, and therapy.

Understand The Importance Of Proper Self-Care

Self-care, in its various forms, is crucial when it comes to experiencing good physical and mental health. Quite simply, self-care can be qualified as engaging with any action or activity that helps you to look after your own wellbeing.

This can simply take the form of finding time to relax and re-connect with yourself and loved ones, consuming a healthy diet, partaking in creative or physical activities frequently, or even something like enjoying a soothing bath.

Any action or behaviour that improves your emotional, mental, and also physical health should be thought of as engaging with self-care.

Therapy Can Help Overcome Negative Thoughts

By discussing your depressive episode with your doctor, it may be that you are advised to undergo therapy in order to help you through this period.

Therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and one-to-one therapy with a trained psychiatrist can assist you in making sure that your brain develops new healthier ways of dealing with stressful triggers.

These forms of therapy are something that Nova Recovery’s private hospital specialises in administering, and can help you through these difficult times.

Depressive episodes are not something to be taken lightly, and so if you feel that you need help in overcoming them please call Nova Recovery Scotland on 01475 303998 to see if we can help you through this period.