Feelings like sadness, anger, resentment, guilt are normal in everyone’s life. They come and go, mildly affecting your everyday life. The key is that they come and go. When they are so present that they turn into a feeling of unrelenting emptiness, then it’s likely that depression has taken over.
A lot of people use the term depression to refer to disappointments, frustration or sadness. Actual depression is much more than this. Living in a black hole is how some describe depression – a sense of worthlessness and despair that dominates all other aspects of life. Depression is an illness that affects the thoughts, mood and the body, interfering with the way a person eats, acts, sleeps, thinks and interacts with others. Although often associated with a feeling of guilt, depression is not due to some “personal weakness”, and it regularly does not disappear by itself.
David was enjoying his career in recruitment. It was fast-paced and “live for the weekend” but he found it satisfying and had a great social life. When he was made redundant David was pretty upbeat and in his usual go-getting manner began sending out CVs and getting in touch with contacts who might know of a position for him. After a month of giving it his all he quickly lapsed into a negative and stagnant state, doubting and blaming himself more and more. “Why did I take my job for granted?”, “I clearly wasn’t that good after all” and “No one even cares about me really” would cycle in his mind in different forms over and over. After another month David had stopped sending CVs out altogether and was barely leaving his house.
He was able to see that things were going really wrong when he realised the pungent smell in his house was coming from him, he hadn’t showered in days. David found a therapist online and began having video sessions as he felt no desire at all to leave his house besides to pick up a takeaway. The therapist felt that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT would help David move forward most effectively. CBT recognises that events from your past may have shaped who you are, but focuses mostly on how you can positively change the way that you think, feel and behave in the present.
After 3 months David was feeling much more like his old self… in fact he felt quite different! He decided to meet with a careers coach and with his new knowledge and awareness that therapy had helped develop he decided to begin consulting to large businesses in the areas of recruitment and business strategy, a passion of his he’d never utilised within his career. It took another 3 months for David to feel completely comfortable ending therapy and when he did it was because he was sure it was the right time.
The way depression manifests varies from person to person. There are a lot of common symptoms and signs – all of them highly normal to some stage, as long as they do not become dominant states. The more symptoms one has, the longer they last and the stronger they are can determine whether that person is dealing with depression or simply the usual ups and downs of life. The most common signs of depression are:
• Feeling hopeless and helpless – you feel stuck, do not see the way out, nothing seems to get better, no power to change anything.
• Losing interest in daily activities, which you previously enjoyed – hobbies, sex or social activities.
• Changes in appetite and weight – significant weight loss or gain (5% of your body weight in a month, for example).
• A shift in sleeping habits – insomnia, waking up extremely early or hypersomnia (oversleeping).
• Behaving recklessly – out of the blue you enjoy escapist behaviour such as compulsive gambling, illegal substance abuse, potentially dangerous sexual encounters or even reckless driving.
• Self-loathing – you feel extremely guilty or worthless. You overcriticize yourself for every insignificant mistake, or you feel you do not matter to anything or anyone.
• Loss of energy – constantly feeling tired, not able to complete even the smallest tasks.
• Problems concentrating – you lack focus, cannot make decisions, you easily forget and hardly can remember things with which you used to have no problems.
• Inexplicable physical pain– physical complaints become harder to bear, the mildest headache or stomach pain is intolerable.
• Anger and irritability – you feel restless, anxious, sometimes violent. Your tolerance level is lowered, allowing your temper to shorten. Everyone and everything gets on your nerves.
It is highly debated whether depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain; most professionals say that some of it is but not the majority, thus it is not often curable by medication. Many specialists say that depression is triggered by a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. In other words, the lifestyle choices, the relationships and the coping skills one possesses are more important than the genetic factors. However, there are certain risk factors which make people more vulnerable to depression.
- Loneliness and lack of social support
- Stressful life experiences such as the death of someone close
- Health problems or chronic pain
- Childhood trauma or abuse
- Financial problems
- Family history of depression
- Marital or relationship problems
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Unemployment or underemployment
Research has identified different types of depression – knowing which one applies to you is of key importance for acquiring the best further treatment.
Mild depression, known also as dysthymia, is a low-grade chronic depression. The symptoms are usually not particularly strong, but they last a long time – at least two years. People suffering from mild depression have brief periods of normal mood but in general dysthymia makes it difficult to enjoy life. You get to a stage where you feel low most of the time, and you consider this to be the way you really are and always will be.
Major depression is the inability to enjoy life and experience pleasure. The symptoms are very strong and constantly present. It lasts approximately six months if left untreated and is regularly a recurring issue.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a temporary condition, strongly related to season and weather changes. It is most common in Northern climates and younger people, but it also happens elsewhere once rainy or stormy weather is present.
Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic depression, is characterised by cycling changes in mood. Depression alternates with manic episodes, which may include hyperactivity, rapid speech, little to no sleep at all, a seemingly euphoric mood and impulsive behaviour. Normally the switch from one stage to the other happens gradually, and each episode lasts for at least a few weeks.
The type of depression, the factors which caused it to appear in a person’s life are crucial in deciding what type of treatment would be most effective. A therapist can choose one or a combination of treatments to help with depression.
Medication is used to treat moderate and severe depression. There are many different forms with various possible side effects and it’s a good idea to talk over the options thoroughly with your doctor, especially if therapy is an alternative option.
Psychotherapy, or talking therapy, is used to treat mild, moderate and sometimes severe depression. A counsellor or therapist may help the depressed person identify and focus on the causes of depression in order to come up with ways to change or stop the triggers from occurring in the first place. Psychotherapy can be done on an individual or group basis. Sometimes it can include members of the family or friends who are believed can make a positive change in the depressed patient situation.
Alternative therapies can provide partial or complete relief from depression. Acupuncture, meditation, herbal remedies, massage, yoga and hypnosis are some of the alternative treatments found to be effective.
Every one of our P-Therapists have worked with clients experiencing depression and many have specialised training. Please take a look at the P-Therapist profiles and the sections on the different types of therapy that we offer for more information. To book a session now call us or use by booking form at the bottom right of each page. We look forward to helping you move forward.
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