When you’re not singing anymore
As a football supporter based in the West Midlands I have to get used to being depressed every Saturday when the results of my team’s best endeavours are announced on ‘Final Score’. But I am absolutely sure that the depression that descends at the final whistle is not really the depression covered in Element 5 of the NEBOSH Certificate Management of Health and Well-being at Work.
My overall well-being is not significantly affected, I am able to keep the trivia of football in perspective and I do not think for a moment that I am suffering from a mental illness. Such illness, sometimes termed a neurosis, and which is classified as ‘mild to moderate’ can materially affect a person’s well-being. In most cases, people with mild-to-moderate symptoms of depression are able to function on a day-to-day basis, but they may not enjoy the full level of functionality as people who do not have depression.
Mild-to-moderate depression is also termed ‘dysthymic’, or ‘dysthymia’. The symptoms can differ in men and women but common elements may include insomnia, loss of interest and enjoyment, an increased susceptibility to fatigue, social relationships that have moved from pleasurable to ‘not worth the effort’ and self-deprecating behaviour. The number of occasions on which a person moves into this state, or the number of symptoms a person may demonstrate, determines whether the depression is termed mild or moderate.
Unlike how I may feel on a Saturday afternoon, where my interests (in things other than football) and enjoyment (in things other than football) quickly recover, the person suffering from depression does not enjoy such a quick recovery. In fact, going beyond the NEBOSH syllabus requirements, depression can become severe. During a severe depressive episode the person is likely to lose significant functionality and be unable to continue with work or domestic activities in any way other than very basic.
For most people the results of a football match won’t trigger even a mild level of depression; they won’t need treatment and will likely recover through their own endeavours. Moving into moderate depression, however, is likely to require the support of medical professionals and/or psychologists. Talking therapies (counselling) and cognitive behavioural therapies may be enough to lift the person from their depressive state. Severe depression is normally treated with ‘anti-depressant drugs’ prescribed by a doctor and will also require some forms of talking therapies – often undertaken by a team of specialists, including psychiatrists, psychologists, specialists nurses and occupational therapists.
Kevin Coley CMIIOSH, Dip2.OSH, EnvDipNEBOSH
Kevin has spent his entire working career involved in health and safety. A NEBOSH Examiner and tutor he enjoys being able to simplify complex situations in order to explain how legislation is applied.