Understanding depression

Most people normally feel able to cope with the problems they face. Anyone can feel depressed or stressed if their emotional balance is upset; an estimated 1 in 5 of the population of Scotland experience depression at some point in their lives.

Depression awareness week, taking place this month in England and in June in Scotland, highlights the importance of understanding depression and how the way we think about a situation or problem can affect the way we feel physically and emotionally.

Tony McLaren, Breathing Space/ NHS Living Life National Coordinator said: "When you are feeling low, how you think about things tends to change too. Sometimes, it isn’t the situation you are facing which is causing you stress and anxiety but it is how you are thinking about the situation which makes you feel anxious. Unhelpful patterns of thinking can mean we see things very negatively and dwell on situations."

NHS Living Life Guided Self-help is a free appointment based telephone service where Self-help Coaches use a step-by-step approach to guide individuals through workbooks to address negative patterns of thinking. The workbooks serve to remind individuals about coping mechanisms they may have forgotten and help teach individuals new ways of coping in their life.

Margaret Finnerty, NHS Living Life Team Leader explained: "Our Self-help Coaches help to find out why people are feeling low, stressed or upset. Low mood and depression can affect many different areas of a person's life, sometimes without them even being fully aware of the extent of these effects. Negative thinking patterns can lead to avoidance behaviour, reduced activity and physical symptoms of depression such as tiredness. Using a step-by-step approach can help to identify changes required to help individuals begin to feel a bit better."

Further information about NHS Living Life and other aspects of mental health and wellbeing can be found through a new Mental Health and Wellbeing zone launched on the national health information website NHS inform.