Many of you may have watched the documentary on the television where Fredie Starr, the comedian, and other people talked about their depression.

It was commented that 18 million prescriptions for antidepressants are written every year and that the rate of prescriptions has almost doubled in five years. Doctors are accused of writing prescription for antidepressants too quickly.

Depression is a very complex condition and is caused by diverse factors like personal and social influences on individuals, adverse life events and poor social support. Some people are born with a tendency to suicidal depression and manic depressive illness and need appropriate treatment and follow up by psychiatrists and community psychiatric nurses.

There is a lack of adequate services to provide psychotherapy, counselling and behavioural therapy in the NHS, and often the waiting time can range from three months to a year! What does the depressed person do in the mean time? The common depression that most of us will go through at some low tide life is due to a loss of our own ability to cope with life's demands, our own demands within, and a loss of social support systems.

Learning to change what we can and accept what we cannot change is an essential strategy for overcoming depression. Building our inner self confidence by joining self help groups, combined with positive encouragement from friends and family, sees us through this depression. Making sure that we enjoy life while working hard helps prevent depression. Compassion and understanding support in personal relationships goes a long way in overcoming depression.

Often we do not have the time or the will to help ourselves. In my experience, the will to change one's lifestyle, learn and practice self help techniques daily, to challenge one's faulty belief system and understanding of life, to develop an inner spiritual strength by following rational religious faith or spiritual path are the most important factors in preventing and treating depression.

For many years I have advocated the development of self help training groups in the NHS to provide support and personal training in coping skills in safe environment where people do not feel threatened and do not have to disclose personal matters. Many community groups and Christian outreach centres provide various activities which can help.