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"World Health Day 2017 – Let's Talk About Depression" - 07 April 2017

World Health Day is celebrated every year on the 7th of April, on the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization. It is an opportunity to mobilize global action around a health topic. This year the theme of the World Health Day campaign is depression, something that affects so many people from different walks of life around the world. As a weight management service provider, we encounter many clients who have suffered from or are suffering from depression and have seen first-hand the damage that the condition can cause to both the individual and to their relationships with those around them. Statistics show that between 1990 and 2013 the number of people suffering from depression and /or anxiety has increased by nearly 50%. With 10% of the global population affected by these conditions, it really is time to talk! 

So what is depression? 

Depression is a common and serious illness that causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy. Those suffering from depression are left feeling paralysed, unable to go about their daily activities. Depression affects different people in different ways however the following symptoms are often reported:

A loss of energy or increased fatigue 
A change in appetite – which may lead to weight gain or weight loss.
A change in sleep pattern (sleeping more or less than normal). 
Feelings of anxiety 
Lack of concentration 
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
At its most severe depression can lead to thoughts of self-harm or suicide. 

Treating Depression

Talking about depression is crucial when it comes to recovery. It is not something that a person can just “snap out of” but a serious condition that affects every aspect of the person’s life. Despite the prevalence of depression there is still a stigma surrounding mental illness which often prevents people from seeking the help that they need. 

Discussing depression either on a personal level with a friend or family member or in a wider context such as at work or through a blog post is one of the ways to break down this barrier and encourage more people to get help. There is help available to treat depression such as talking therapies and antidepressant medication and with the proper diagnosis and treatment the majority of people will overcome it. If you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above the first step is to make an appointment with your doctor.

Physical Activity and Depression

Physical activity has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression for many people. The benefits of exercise include stress relief, increased energy levels, improved physical wellbeing and the sense of achievement that comes with taking part in physical activity. 

It is important to pick activities that you enjoy – for some this may be a yoga class, for others it may be a run in the park to try clear your head. Whatever type of exercise you choose, all physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on mood. Like with anything, changes won’t happen overnight so it is important to set realistic exercise goals and work on these over a defined period of time.  

Online Resources for those living with depression 

Here are some online resources that you may find useful if you are living with depression or if you know someone that is and are looking for ways to support them. 

Mind - 
Samaritans - 
Mental Health Foundation - 
Friends in Need - (part of Mind Charity) 
Together - 
Centre for Mental Health - 
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy - (Dr Chris Williams) An online life skills

Today people around the globe will be sharing their personal accounts of struggling with depression as well as health expertise on the subject using the hashtag #LetsTalk. Get involved too and together we can try break the stigma surrounding depression and encourage more people to get help! 

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