What is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder characterised by low mood and a wide range of other possible symptoms, which vary from person to person. Depression can develop very quickly or gradually over a period of time and can be brought on by things that happen in our lives and/or changes in our body.
What Causes Depression?
Depression is much more than just feeling down, it is a serious illness caused by a change in brain chemistry although there are other factors that contribute to the onset of depression including:
changes in hormone levels
separation or divorce
being bullied at school, work or online
In some cases there may seem to be no apparent reason for the onset of depression.
Depression commonly affects your thoughts, your emotions, your behaviours and your overall physical health. Here are some of the most common symptoms which can, if you have been suffering from five or more of them over a few weeks, point to the possible presence of depression.
useless or worthless
loss of interest in friends, family and favourite activities
trouble making decisions
thoughts of harming yourself
delusions and/or hallucinations can also occur in cases of severe depression
dislike or hate yourself
withdrawing from people
missing work, school or other commitments
attempts to harm yourself
tiredness or lack of energy
unexplained aches and pains
changes in appetite
changes in sleep - sleeping too little or too much
There are also different degrees of depression which are mild, moderate and major.
Mild depression has a limited impact on your daily life. For example, you may have difficulty concentrating at work or motivating yourself to do the things you normally enjoy.
Moderate depression has a significant impact on your daily life
Major depression interferes with an individual's daily life and makes it almost impossible to get through the day.
There are steps you can take to free yourself from depression, although what works for one may not work for another. Here is a list of things you could try by yourself:
take up a physical activity such as swimming or just going for a small walk
doing things that you enjoy such as a hobby or going to visit a friend
give yourself a treat, go shopping and buy yourself something new
set yourself goals, start with something small and build it up
sign up to do some voluntary work
join a local club or group
It’s not easy to get motivated when you are feeling depressed but it's very important that you find a way to change the way you are feeling.
You can gain a lot from meeting people with similar experiences. You will find out how they coped with their depression and it will allow you to speak to people who understand how you are feeling.
If doing things on your own just isn't enough and you feel your depression is getting worse then you should go to your GP for medical treatment. Your GP can offer support and advice about your recovery, they can also provide treatment in the form of anti-depressant drugs and referrals to specialists.
Most people that take anti-depressants go on to make a good recovery, but beware it can take 2 to 4 weeks of taking your anti-depressants before they start to make you feel better so it's very important that you do not stop taking them.
Counselling and Psychotherapy
Counselling and psychotherapy gives people an opportunity to talk through their problems and feelings.
You may talk about the present or something from your past that is much more deep rooted.
Your therapist will have a much better idea of how many sessions you will need this will be agreed by you and your therapist.
Counselling can be done on a one to one basis, just you and the counsellor, or it can be in a group of people that are in the same position as you.
The goal of psychotherapy is to help individuals address the issues that contribute to their depression, including resolving conflicts, improving family and work relationships, recovering from trauma or loss and learning how to deal with recurrent stresses
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy - CBT
CBT cannot remove your problems, but it can help you deal with them in a more positive way. It is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle.
CBT focuses on self reflection and important past traumas and aims to help you crack this cycle by breaking down overwhelming problems into smaller parts and showing you how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel.