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West London NHS Trust > Patients and carers > Mental and physical health conditions > Depression


What is depression?

Although it’s a term often used to describe a low mood, when a doctor diagnoses depression, it’s very different from the common experience of feeling miserable or fed up for a short period of time. A depressed person feels sad or emotionally numb for days or weeks at a time, and their work and personal life are affected.
If a person has mild or moderate depression they may be miserable but able to continue with everyday life. Severe depression can cause a person to become suicidal. There are a number of treatments for depression which are proven to be effective, and many ways to help prevent its reoccurrence, so there’s no reason why most people should not recover to enjoy a full and healthy life.

How common is depression?

Depression affects people of all ages.
Women are twice as likely to have depression as men, although statistics point to men being more likely to commit suicide. This may be because men are more reluctant to seek help or treatment. Two per cent of teenagers have depression.

Why is it important to get treatment?

Severe depression can stop a person from coping with everyday life for weeks or even months. With treatment, they can learn to manage their symptoms and make a full recovery. Although the depression may return, it’s important that a person’s treatment focuses on how to manage their emotional life and so avoid the worst effects of the condition.
At WLMHT, this is our approach. Talking treatments focus on helping a person see how they can have more active control over their depression and how it affects their life. Our care teams show a person how to manage their depression in a way that works specifically for them.

Living with depression

It is important to have support from carers and friends because loneliness and isolation can make depression worse. For this reason, if it’s appropriate, the WLMHT care team likes to include carers and friends in a person’s treatment. Well-organised support can be the encouragement a person needs to manage their symptoms, be active in their lives and develop relationships that give meaning to their life.
If over-working has caused depression, and a person can’t do their job properly, some time off may be needed. However, going back to work can help recovery. The WLMHT care team can help a person discover or re-discover a sense of identity separate from their depression. This, in turn, can give them hope and help them overcome the way in which depression has affected their ability to work, study, have relationships and participate in society.

Care at WLMHT

Most people are looked after by their GP. If a person’s depression becomes worse, they are referred to the WLMHT where a care team will review any treatments or medication and make further recommendations.
Members of the care team fully involve a person in all aspects of their care. In an equal partnership, together they examine the cause and type of depression, and put together a course of effective treatment that focuses on the whole person, not just the symptoms.
Only in the most severe cases is a person admitted to hospital so that a psychiatrist can monitor progress and the effects of medication.
Individualised care is central to WLMHT’s way of caring for and treating those with depression. This includes taking into account each person’s diverse needs and personal treatment preferences.