This has been quite the fortnight for depression. Last week we ran a feature on spotting the symptoms and what you need to know to help someone with depression, after Stephen Fry spoke candidly about his struggles. This week, we found from the National Office Of Statistics, that one in five people in Britain suffer from depression or anxiety.

The problem with depression, is that because people aren't sure whether it is do with genetics or if it develops on its own, is that there is no hard and fast rule on how to treat it. But there may be light at the end of the tunnel for those figuring out whether it's best to go through therapy or take anti-depressants. New research from Emory university in Atlanta indicates that patterns of brain activity may reveal whether a patient needs therapy or tablets. Dr Helen Mayberg who led the study looked at how different treatments affect brain activity and what happens in the brain when someone is suffering from depression.

The study included 65 people and they were randomly assigned to receive cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or the antidepressant escitalopram. PET scans were then taken of the subject's brains.

Talking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Dr Sheri Jacobson from Harley Therapy says that the struggle between whether to go for therapy or medication arises all the time. "We don’t know if there is a biological tendency to have depression and it's activated by circumstance, or if it develops on its own. I’m a big proponent of talking therapy. I am a strong believer that mental health conditions can be traced back to early traumas. So the best way to resolve them – because I don’t believe in a 'cure' – is to work on those earlier factors."

Last year, the BBC revealed new figures that the NHS in England spent more than £270m on antidepressants last year, which was a huge 23% increase on 2010.

Dr Jacobson said: "A lot of us don’t believe in medication long term - it has side effects, and we don’t know the long term consequences. But - some people are not amenable to talking therapy. For some people we do recommend taking some medication to give them a step up to then contemplate the next step, because if you are suffering from depression then you can’t get on that ladder at all – it seems impossible.

"With therapy, the starting point is the present, where you get a grip on the damaging day to day conditions that are affecting you. Then at some point it’s worth exploring the roots of potential causes so that that it doesn’t morph into something else. On that basis talking therapy really helps because it gives people a real chance at being able to manage their condition and moving forward from it."

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  • Be mindful of other's thoughts

    Standing back from thoughts and just observing them can help to highlight unhelpful patterns of thinking that may be causing someone to feel depressed. For more advice visit <a href="www.feelingblue.co.uk" target="_blank">www.feeling-blue.co.uk</a> or <a href="http://www.europeandepressionday.com/" target="_blank">European Depression Association</a>

  • Stay in contact

    Talking things through with a friend or family member can help to lessen the burden of negative thoughts and can sometimes help to find a solution. For more advice visit <a href="www.feelingblue.co.uk" target="_blank">www.feeling-blue.co.uk</a> or <a href="http://www.europeandepressionday.com/" target="_blank">European Depression Association</a>

  • Join a group

    This can be a way of meeting people who are going through the same things, which can provide great support and understanding. GP practices should have a list of what is available in the area. For example, they might like to contact RELATE if they have relationship problem or Cruse if their depression has been triggered by loss or bereavement. For more advice visit <a href="www.feelingblue.co.uk" target="_blank">www.feeling-blue.co.uk</a> or <a href="http://www.europeandepressionday.com/" target="_blank">European Depression Association</a>

  • Have fun

    Finding out what someone likes doing and helping them to do it can be beneficial. It could be shopping, listening to music, watching a movie, having a massage – little things all count. Draw up a list of things they enjoy and suggest they do one of them at least three or four times a week. For more advice visit <a href="www.feelingblue.co.uk" target="_blank">www.feeling-blue.co.uk</a> or <a href="http://www.europeandepressionday.com/" target="_blank">European Depression Association</a>

  • Look after your wellbeing

    Paying attention to simple physical needs such as eating, sleeping and exercise can all help alleviate mild-to-moderate depression. For more advice visit <a href="www.feelingblue.co.uk" target="_blank">www.feeling-blue.co.uk</a> or <a href="http://www.europeandepressionday.com/" target="_blank">European Depression Association</a>

  • Diet

    Some studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 -especially if nutrient levels are low - may ease the mood changes that are part of depression. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids. So do flaxseed, nuts, soybeans, and dark green vegetables. Seafood and low-fat dairy products are sources of B12. Most people don’t consume enough of these foods and they may need a supplement to obtain optimum benefits. For more advice visit <a href="www.feelingblue.co.uk" target="_blank">www.feeling-blue.co.uk</a> or <a href="http://www.europeandepressionday.com/" target="_blank">European Depression Association</a>

  • Try something new

    Once they start feeling a bit better taking up a new hobby or activity at the weekend or at an evening class can help lift mood still further. Good options include joining a book club, a knitting circle or having a go at the local pub quiz? This can help to break the vicious circle of loneliness and spending too much time dwelling on negative thoughts. For more advice visit <a href="www.feelingblue.co.uk" target="_blank">www.feeling-blue.co.uk</a> or <a href="http://www.europeandepressionday.com/" target="_blank">European Depression Association</a>

  • Talk about it

    Talking therapies usually involve meeting with a trained therapist either alone or in a group where people talk about their problems and try to find a solution. They may be offered psychotherapy and general counselling. But according to NICE, the most effective treatment for depression is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which should be offered to people by their GP. It shows people how to replace unhelpful negative thoughts, which could be contributing to their depression with more realistic and balanced ones. There are also a number of Internet-based CBT programmes, which research suggests are helping many more people get help with their depression. The reason? They can access them at home in their own time. For more advice visit <a href="www.feelingblue.co.uk" target="_blank">www.feeling-blue.co.uk</a> or <a href="http://www.europeandepressionday.com/" target="_blank">European Depression Association</a>

For more information on understanding depression, visit Mind.

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