Depression

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This is a simple overview of depression that I hope you will find helpful. Depression comes in different levels of severity. Mild to moderate depression can cause us to feel low in mood but still able to cope with every- day life. Severe depression can be extremely disabling and can even lead to a person feeling they no longer wish to live.
In addition to general clinical depression there are specific types such as Post Natal depression, Bipolar disorder and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Post Natal Depression – this is more serious than just the baby blues. It can occur up to two years after giving birth and the first port of call should be your GP; after that therapy may well be helpful
Bipolar Disorder – this causes significant mood swings, from noticeably high to noticeably low and sometimes severe; again the first port of call should be your GP
SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder – This is worse in autumn and winter when there’s less daylight and it’s noticeably improved in spring and summer. Your GP is probably the first person to see if you notice this pattern

Causes

Depression can have many causes and it’s impossible to list them all. Causes may include a traumatic event, distressing life experiences, bereavement and loss. Depression can occur as a result of negative childhood experiences, unresolved anger, chronic illness and prolonged pain. There are certain physical illnesses that may give rise to depression such as some hormonal and endocrine disorders. Also, any injury or illness that is life changing, disabling and restrictive. Negative thinking may be another cause; this is often learned behaviour from a parent passed down through the generations.

Symptoms

How does someone know if they are depressed? You may be experiencing a low mood for long periods on a daily basis; it may come in waves. You may also be experiencing a whole host of unpleasant feelings including tearfulness, emptiness, despair, isolation, hopelessness, withdrawal, loss of libido and a feeling of unreality.
You may be struggling with sleeping problems, early waking, finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, feel tired and feel lethargic all the time. Aches and pains are common as are headaches and digestive problems.
You may notice that you are having memory problems, perhaps notice that your concentration is poor and you may be finding it unusually difficult to make decisions. Your self- confidence may be lower and you may have a sense of hopelessness or even be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Managing Depression

If someone is diagnosed by their GP with moderate to severe depression they may be prescribed antidepressants and be advised to have some form of therapy, such as talking therapy or CBT (cognitive Behavioural Therapy). People with mild to moderate depression can often manage with therapy alone and don’t necessarily need medication.
When people feel depressed, for whatever reason, it’s very easy to get into a cycle of negative thinking. Once we recognise our negative thinking we can break the cycle by challenging those negative thoughts and replacing them with more helpful ones. CBT is good for helping to identify and change negative thinking. When we are feeling traumatised, fatigued or thinking negatively our body releases a hormone called Cortisol, which lowers our mood. A good way to help reduce our Cortisol level is to get out and about and active. Activity and exercise causes the body to release Endorphins which bring a feeling of wellbeing and cause us to feel better. This is great alongside therapy and can help maintain our feeling of wellbeing after therapy has ended. It’s also good for us to spend time with people who are positive and supportive. Planning leisure events and activities is good so that you always have things to look forward to. Joining local activity and interest groups may be a good idea. Some form of relaxation may help as might a holiday. Treat yourself if you can and take time out just for you – you’re worth it as the advert says!
I you are struggling to manage depression on your own and have tried some of the suggestions above, try to see a BACP Accredited therapist or counsellor because it’s good to talk. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) can identify and change negative thoughts. If you have suffered a trauma or had bad experiences of any kind you may wish to talk about them. Therapy can also help you understand process and express your anger appropriately without hurting anyone or adversely affecting your relationships.
Depression often comes hand in hand with anxiety (see my Anxiety blog). Suicidal thoughts can be very frightening and if you need to talk to someone immediately you can call Samaritans: 08457 90 90 90
Never give up. There is always hope for feeling better in the future, even though you may not feel there is hope at the moment. Compassionate, non- judgmental help is always just a phone call way and no-one is too bad or too shameful to deserve help

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