When you feel depressed it can be difficult to find the motivation to talk about it. However, it’s useful to know that however you’re feeling, you’re not alone.
Depression has no boundaries. It affects people of all ages, classes, creeds and cultures, and one in ten people in the UK are affected by depression at some point in their lives.Click here for some health statistics.
In 2018 70.9 million prescriptions were written for anti-depressants, with their use almost doubling in the last ten years. But are anti-depressants the answer?
What does depression feel like?
Here are some of the ways that people have described their depression: “It feels like I'm stuck under a huge grey-black cloud. It's dark and isolating, smothering me at every opportunity” and “It starts as sadness then I feel myself shutting down, becoming less capable of coping. Eventually, I just feel numb and empty.” Here is an article from mind.org.
If you are suffering from depression, you may think that no one understands, so there’s no point in trying to explain. The reality is that it’s very hard to describe depression accurately to anyone who has not experienced it. On top of that, my depression may not feel the same as yours. We are all individuals.
I think this video from the World Health Organisation goes some way to explaining it:
What is depression?
We all feel low at times, but depression is different, and can appear at any time.
Mild depression is very common and can put you in a low mood, stop you from getting out of bed or make you feel unmotivated.
Severe depression seems to have a life of its own. It takes as much of your life away from you as it can. It will separate you from your friends and isolate you, it takes away self-belief and lowers your self-worth. It is an illness that when you have it. It does not want you to talk about it. Depression even tells you that you have not got it and that you do not need outside help. Depression tells you not to bother other people with it. Depression wants to keep you on your own so that it is in control of you.
Depression can be all consuming, debilitating and if left untreated, can completely take over your life, leading to loneliness, loss of purpose, low self-worth, loss of confidence. Temporary relief from depression is often sought through alcohol, drugs, food, gambling, gaming, sex and other means. Although this may give temporary relief, it can then lead to addiction.
Untreated depression can lead to self-harm or suicidal thoughts and actions.
What causes depression
Depression can be brought on by external situations such as loneliness, money or finance issues, bereavement or other loss - losing your partner or close friend, relationship or family problems, retirement, disability, long or life threatening illness, some viral infections, moving home or losing a home, being a carer, the time of year, heavy alcohol use or drug misuse. Persistent anxiety can cause depression.
But with depression the truth is that often there is no obvious reason for it. That is what makes it so hard to talk about or to understand.
Depression can run in families. According to the Royal Society of Psychiatrists, if you have one parent who has become severely depressed, you are about eight times more likely to become depressed yourself.
Some early signs of depression.
You might be experiencing low moods that never seem to go away, a general feeling of fatigue, irregular sleep patterns, loss of interest in things you would normally like, hopelessness or lethargy, a lack of motivation, difficulty focusing on anything, changes in appetite (either way), feelings of guilt about how you are, being easily agitated and can lead to self-harm or suicidal thoughts and actions.
Depression encourages negative thought patterns like these:
Focusing on negative gloomy thoughts and hanging on to them and letting go of more positive thoughts. Projecting into the future and predicting negative outcomes to situations. Trying to do other people’s thinking for them. Making mountains out of molehills by believing something is much worse than it really is. Comparing yourself to others in a negative way.
Others include: Having bad memories of previous events and believing that future events will always have the same outcome. Black and white thinking – everything in life is either good or bad and always focussing on the bad things. And then there’s that self-critic that always bring us down. It tells us that we’re not good enough, so there’s no point trying. It’s like an evil parrot that says the same unkind and negative things however hard you try to ignore it.
How do you treat depression
If you think you’re suffering from depression then it’s important to visit your GP. Depression hates to be exposed and this is the first step. Mild depression can sometimes be treated without the use of medication. Connect with friends and family and talk about how you feel(depression hates connection). Try to structure your days and set small, achievable goals for yourself. Exercise can help, so go for a walk, a jog or a swim. Although you may not feel like it try to do something active – but don’t overdo it. Book some counselling. Click here to contact me.
In the case of moderate depression your doctor may suggest some medication as well. Severe depression may also need specialist long term medication and referral to the mental health team. Here is the Website for Samaritans.org
How can counselling help with depression?
Depression wants to stop you talking about it, which is why counselling works well in helping people recover from depression. Talking about your depression with a counsellor can help you understand why you feel like you do. It can work on its own, and when combined with prescribed medication. During my time working as a counsellor, my experience has been that counselling is beneficial to people who have been both mildly and more severely depressed.
How can I help you with your depression?
I have learned a lot about depression through working with many different people in my own private practice, as well as from my own personal experience.
As your counsellor, my aim would be to help you bring about changes in the way you think about and deal with day-to-day life. I will encourage you to get in touch with your physical feelings and to understand what they are telling you. We would then explore what action you may need to take to improve your outlook and the way that you feel.
Together we will work towards you valuing yourself more as a person and becoming the person you want to be. I want you to feel stronger and to enable you to face the world with a more positive outlook.
In my experience, many people are able to live with depression if they also put routines in place that can help them to live each day in a structured way. I would encourage you to try gentle exercise and help you plan your days. We would explore ways for you to destress in order to relax, because getting enough sleep is important. I would certainly promote healthy eating and, if you feel it would be helpful, meditation, and other ways of relaxation.
The brain is elastic and has the ability to change, so if a chemical imbalance has developed because of events that have happened in your life, then with the correct treatment I believe that this chemical change can be reversed.
Make a start today. Talk to your GP first and then get in touch. Click here to contact me.