June marked Loneliness Awareness Week in the UK, an annual week that aims to bring about awareness regarding the significant impact that loneliness can have on emotional and mental health. Our understanding of mental health in general has expanded significantly over the years. We now recognise that conditions like depression are complex and tend to have a variety of underlying root causes. Loneliness can certainly contribute to this.
Treating depression is a very difficult task. The strategies that work for one patient may not work for another and over time, how an individual responds to therapeutic intervention may change. Learning how to live with depression is an ongoing battle.
Your doctor or psychologist will be able to recommend a number of strategies to help manage symptoms associated with depression, from lifestyle changes to pharmaceutical products, including medical marijuana.
Continue reading to learn more about what causes depression and how a patient can learn to live with this condition.
What is depression?
The World Health Organisation defines depression as being “characterised by persistent sadness and a lack of interest in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities.” The WHO notes that depression can also cause a patient to struggle with sleep and appetite and that tiredness and loss of concentration are common symptoms.
The causes of depression tend to be very complex and differ from patient to patient. It is often a combination of physical, psychological, and social factors that cause an individual to be diagnosed with depression.
Specific circumstances — like being diagnosed with a serious physical illness — can trigger depression. Some people are also at added risk of developing the condition due to family history or their personality.
Drug and alcohol misuse is also closely linked to depression. Statistics from the Mental Health Foundation suggest that adults with drug dependence are twice as likely as the general population to be using psychological therapy. (1)
Depression and loneliness
While loneliness does not necessarily cause depression, it can be a contributing factor. The Marmalade Trust, the only charity in the world specifically dedicated to raising awareness of loneliness, suggests that loneliness is a very complex state of mind that can have an array of physical and emotional side-effects. Our cognitive and immune functioning may be affected by a prolonged experience of loneliness.
There are known key points in your life that are associated with loneliness. Transitioning from high school to university, for example, often results in isolation and decreased social interaction. Starting a new job or moving to a new town is another. As we age, we naturally lose touch with friends and family, meaning the elderly are often most affected by feelings of loneliness.
These experiences may trigger depression. Alternatively, many people diagnosed with depression have an excellent support network around them but are still affected by this mental disorder. While being lonely certainly won’t help manage symptoms associated with depression, it doesn’t always lead to this diagnosis.
Strategies for managing depression
If you have received an official diagnosis of depression, your doctor or psychologist has no doubt provided you with an array of strategies to help manage your condition. The fact that we don’t fully understand the root cause of this condition means there is no strict cure. Instead, a combination of lifestyle changes, therapeutic interventions, and pharmaceutical products may be recommended.
These can include:
Lifestyle changes: For mild cases of depression, focusing on making positive changes to your lifestyle can have a significant impact on mood and symptoms. Enjoying a healthy diet, getting an appropriate amount of exercise, reducing your screen time, and prioritising sleep are all simple steps you can take to improve your symptoms.
Talking therapies: Talking to a trained therapist, counsellor, or psychologist is often recommended as a strategy to help manage depression. Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, is a popular approach that is designed to identify practical ways you can address the root cause of your issues.
Prescription medication: A range of prescription medications are available to help manage symptoms associated with depression. In the United Kingdom (and an increasing number of countries throughout the world) this list of medications includes medical marijuana.
Medical cannabis may be offered to patients who have been diagnosed with depression and struggle to manage their symptoms for a prolonged period of time. Such patients have likely tried multiple strategies, including making lifestyle changes and speaking to a qualified professional.
Medical marijuana contains a number of active ingredients, including cannabinoids known as CBT and THC, which interact with our endocannabinoid system. This system has a regulatory effect on several body functions, such as mood and appetite.
Feelings of loneliness and depression are common and can be difficult to manage. If you have been living with depression for a prolonged period of time, consider speaking to a medical cannabis clinic in the UK. They may identify you being eligible for a medical marijuana prescription and recommend it as a strategy to help manage symptoms associated with depression. (2)
Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.
Speaks from heart, always too passionate and driven by emotions. Spins the words with kindness & sharpness, intriguing your ever-inscrutable minds.