Depression? “Much too much sadness…”
“The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality……. And it was vitality that seemed to seep away from me in that moment.” Andrew Solomon (TedxMet)
You are not to be blamed for being depressed, but you are responsible for doing something about it.
You have probably experienced some sort of mild depression in your lifetime. You could be just feeling ‘low’ or tired and fed up, down and miserable. The question is when this is just sheer exhaustion and tiredness, or when does this cross the line into depression. It takes courage to recognise when this gets worse and you can no longer “pull yourself together” or “snap out of it”, or “think positively”. You may be able to do this for a short while, but then it just does not work. Most times people hate to acknowledge any vulnerability, and will go out of their way to avoid any mention of the word depression. But will suffer anyway.
On this page, we will look at the most common of depressions, major depression – which can be very mild or at the other end of the continuum, extreme and debilitating in all areas of your life.
Why depression is not recognized
- Some people just have a “melancholic” and sad sort of personality.
- You think that feeling so tired, stressed and “bad” is normal.
- It has been a long time coming and is now familiar and “comfortable”. It is all you know.
- You want to be independent and “do it” on your own.
- You judge yourself as being weak or lazy if you are depressed.
- You want to avoid being judged by others. They say to you – “just pull yourself together” or “think positive” and often do not understand.
- Physical problems seem easier and quicker to treat – aches and pains, headaches, tension, exhaustion, nausea, stomach problems… These are often signs of a deeper cause – depression. It feels easier to avoid the root of the problem – depression and anxiety, by popping a pain killer, having a drink or shooter or two, or losing your cool and letting out tension and frustration on your loved ones.
- It is too much effort. Lethargy, exhaustion, procrastination and the inability to find solutions and a lack of hope for the future are some symptoms of depression.
So many people struggle with their lives, relationships, family and work because of depression. This is a pity because there are real possibilities of working effectively with different types of depression.
10 Main Symptoms of Depression
There are several well known symptoms of depression. While there may be several symptoms that many people have in common, each person’s “picture” of depression will be different.
Depression can be caused and exacerbated by many factors, such as: stress, relationships, loneliness, separation/divorce, work, uncertainty about your future, children, marriage, an inability to express yourself, low self esteem, lack of self assertiveness, a family history of depression, illness, bereavement, and experiencing trauma (threat to your and your loved one’s well-being and life, and/or injury) etc.
- Feeling miserable, down and low (lacking vitality).
- Weeping a lot (or more than usual).
- Worry and anxiety (churning around and around in our head).
- Loss of memory and lack of concentration.
- Disturbed sleep (or wanting to sleep all the time).
- Tired and exhausted.
- Everything is an effort.
- There is no joy or hope, and no enthusiasm for the future.
- Feeling irritable and snappy, reactive, over sensitive, angry, even agitated.
- Life is so painful and difficult that at times we want to be anywhere else but here.
If you are suffering from depression for the first time, you are young, the depression is mild, your life circumstances are improving and you have a good support system, then you may find the depression lifts over time. However, if you are older, have experienced depression before, the depressive episode is more severe this time, and your life circumstances are stressful (and may be for sometime), then not doing anything about depression COULD lead to increasingly severe and repeated bouts of depression.
This could end up negatively affecting all aspects of your life, such as family life, relationships, work, health, finance etc.
Treatment of depression
Often, depression is not just something we can “snap out of”, or just “pull ourselves together” over time. The good news is that most types of depression can be managed and treated. There is no need to stay miserable and down – this is not the norm. When you become properly informed and receive appropriate support, you can start to make constructive changes in your life. A key approach to treatment is to understand and then address the REASONS why you are feeling depressed.
It is helpful to have an informal assessment to determine if you are struggling with depression. A Clinical Psychologist can assist you with this, and if there are symptoms of depression, then therapy and counselling are recommended as the first steps.
- Learn to understand what the symptoms of depression are, and how it effects you
- Start to understand how we “get” depression (there could be at least 12 reasons why…)
- Start to explore the reasons WHY you are stressed / depressed
- Explore alternative ways of coping and learn practical life skills
- Offload your worries and anxieties in “a safe place”, where a professional person is objective and caring, and confidentiality is assured
- Work through some of the related emotions and issues with support
You may not need to take medication, especially if the depression is mild. For more severe depression, research indicates that the best long term outcome is a combination of counselling/therapy and anti-depressant medication. Some people prefer to try more natural medications/homeopathy as a first step.
One indication for considering anti-depressant medication is when your daily life is being badly affected by depression. For example, if it gets harder to get out of bed in the mornings, work is more difficult, you are making more mistakes and starting to get into trouble, relationships start to suffer and arguments increase.
Sometimes you may have to weigh up the consequences of not going onto medication… but of course it is essential to get reliable information before making this decision. Some people are scared that going on medication is a sign of weakness. But if you had high blood pressure etc, you would be more open to taking the appropriate medication. Of course managing your life style (eating habits, exercise, relationships, boundary setting etc) is an essential part of managing depression and anxiety.
Anti-depressant medication is not addictive as some people fear – unlike some tranquilizers/sleeping pills. Are you aware of the difference?
If you would like to explore whether you are suffering from some form of depression and/or anxiety, or would like to find out more about this, please feel welcome to make an appointment.