Dealing with Depression
“I feel depressed”
“I’m down in the dumps”
“I’ve got the blues”
We may all describe feeling this way from time to time when dealing with life’s ups and downs but if you are feeling the same way for weeks on end or these symptoms come and go on a regular basis then you may be clinically depressed.
What is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder, which varies from person to person, however some of the common symptoms are listed below:
• Feeling low, restless or agitated
• Feeling prone to tearfulness
• Feel numb, empty and hopeless
• Feeling isolated and unable to relate to other people
• Feeling irritable or impatient
• Finding little or no pleasure in life
• Feeling helpless
• Feeling indecisive
• Feeling anxious or worried
• Experiencing a sense of unreality
• Difficulty concentrating
• Guilt and shame
• Lack of self-confidence and/ or self-esteem
• Negative thinking patterns
• Suicidal thoughts
• Cessation of hobbies
• Avoiding social events
• Low motivation
• Increased use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs
• Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than usual
• Tiredness and lacking in energy
• Loss of appetite or over-eating
• Aches and pains
If you have experienced five or more of the above symptoms every day for two weeks then you may be depressed although for a formal diagnosis you should seek advice from you GP.
What causes depression?
There are a number of different causes of depression, although it is not always easy to pinpoint what has triggered an episode of depression and often people will say “I don’t know why I am feeling this way”. Some common causes are trauma, stress, loss, childhood experiences, biological conditions, side effects of medication, drug or alcohol use, genetics and chemical changes in the brain.
Ways to deal with depression
Just as there can be different causes for depression, there are also a number of different ways of dealing with depression. As noted above, it is quite common when feeling depressed to lose interest in hobbies and other activities that you enjoy and so a good starting point can be to try doing some of these again. Exercise, in particular, can be helpful in lifting mood and increasing activity levels.
Similarly, it is common to withdraw and so re-connecting with others can also help to improve your mood – even if it is not possible to meet in person, a phone call or text can help you to keep in touch with others.
Whilst self-care can go some way to helping with depression (eating healthily, getting a good night’s sleep, reducing alcohol and drug use) there are times when you may need additional support. Your GP may prescribe medication and there is now a wide range of anti-depressants available. There is also the option of talking therapy as an alternative or in addition to medication. Again there are a number of therapies available such as counselling, CBT, art therapy, and psychodynamic therapy to name but a few. Self-help groups may also be helpful in sharing how you feel and listening to the experiences of others.
The main thing is to recognise that you have a problem and that it is OK to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness and trying to struggle on your own could make your depression worse.
If you or someone you know is affected by depression or you have any questions about depression then please contact me. If you are feeling suicidal then you can contact Samaritans (116 123) or attend your local Accident & Emergency department.