Depression: Don’t let it get you down

As depression rates soar are we becoming less and less happy as a society?

And do we have less to be happy about?

Or are we just better at recognising the signs and symptoms of depression?

 

Dispelling myths
Let us start with the facts. Depression is a common difficulty for MANY people. So if you know you are struggling to overcome these feelings, it is important that you also know you are not alone. Statistics suggest up to 1 in 4 people will feel depressed at some point in their lives. What this means in real terms is that you or someone you know through, family, work or friends could be the 1 in four that has been depressed or could become depressed. So it might be closer to home then you realise.

It is worth knowing that there are various forms of depression and different levels of severity. You or someone you know do not necessarily have to have all the symptoms to actually be depressed. Neither does it mean that feeling a bit low in mood now and again equates to full-blown depression. Either way, by ignoring any significant signs, you could be missing out on much needed help that could improve your life and help you manage a long-term problem more effectively. Receiving support early might also help you on your way out of suffering.

 

So what is depression?
Here are some typical symptoms just so you are clear:

Emotional signs
· Feeling all the feels at times
o You might cry a lot and sometimes unexpectedly so
o Persistent low mood, sadness, anxiety, guilt
· Feeling empty or dead inside, flat and detached
· Feeling hopeless-like there isn’t much purpose to life

Physical/Behavioural changes
· Anhedonia
o This is a loss of pleasure in activities you usually do
· Sleeping more then usual or much less then usual
o Feeling more lethargic then usual
o Fatigue might be a result of decreased energy
· Being unable to get yourself going when you usually would
· Physical symptoms that you cannot find answers to or that do not respond to treatment. For example, pain or gastrointestinal problems)
· Change in appetite or weight
o Being unable to eat
o Or even eating too much
· Restlessness and irritability

Signs in the mind
· Thinking you are worthless, helpless and hopeless
· Wanting to avoid thinking about the problems you need to resolve
· Finding it hard to make decisions or know what the right thing is to do
· Viewing yourself negatively and speaking about your self negatively
· Having a pessimistic view of the world
· Low self esteem and self-confidence
· Thoughts of escape including suicidal thoughts and acts
· Detaching from reality by creating your own bubble

Please note, the above list is a signpost to help you understand what might be going on but is not exhaustive or meant as a ‘self-diagnosis’ tool. It is therefore important to speak to a professional to ensure you are not overestimating your difficulty or ignoring it. If you have many of the above, we would advise that you do seek help from a professional including your GP.

 

Combating stigma
At Revive, we acknowledge that it can feel like an up hill struggle trying to battle through depression. The challenge most people face is that despite their efforts to overcome depression, you can still feel overwhelmed, and alone. It is also a difficulty that people might tend to ‘play down’ or ignore, which might be because it is more acceptable to say, “I feel worn out and am tired” rather then “I’m constantly emotional and can’t stop crying” or “I feel like killing myself”.

With celebrities ‘coming out’ about their struggles with their mental health and wellbeing, it is becoming more common place to be open about what people are really feeling about their lives, themselves, their circumstances and their relationships. The long-term effects of depression can be seen through recent losses such as the suicide of Chester Bennington. In addition, Prince Harry, Wentworth Miller and Sinead O’Conner (more recently) emphasised the importance of reaching out rather then staying in isolation. Remember: Isolation breeds depression.

What we know is that living in a ‘tell it all’ culture through social media can have its benefits where people are naming struggles that are often taboo. If a story resonates you might feel better knowing that even the people you think might ‘have it easy’ are also experiencing the same as you. So it is important to share the difficulties, as it can provide hope and the possibility of change. Something that is VITAL when it comes to depression.

However, we also know that social media can lead to ‘keeping up appearances’ syndrome, making it even harder to say, “I’m struggling and need help”. In fact, social media can increase secrecy and may make you more depressed. For example, comparing yourself to others that you perceive as doing better then you is unhealthy and will likely maintain feelings of worthlessness. The fantasy of a ‘happy life’ brings short term relief but can become a pressure to maintain, especially if it does not match your reality.

 

What’s making people depressed?
Depression is not something that ‘just happens’. Usually there will be a trigger such as a challenging event or problem that you are finding hard to overcome. For example, a significant loss or change in your life like losing a job, or relationship, moving home or financial worries. In life, often times we will not have a choice or control over events that may happen to us. Depression occurs as a response to feeling helpless when our circumstances feel out of our control.

We want to acknowledge that there has been lots of coverage in the news that can also raise hopelessness as well as anxiety. Through this coverage it is clear that there are many more uncertainties about global affairs and that we are much more ‘involved’ through the media whilst still feeling helpless. Such a formula is a recipe for depression.

With this in mind we want you to be aware of when you might be feeling low as well as what to attempt to do about it. So we would suggest the following steps:

 

1. Revisit the signs above
2. Speak to someone about it that you trust
3. Speak to a professional if you want more advice
4. DO NOT LEAVE IT. That’s the depression talking
5. Try and work towards one goal a day that makes you feel you are achieving something
6. As hard as it might be, stick to a routine that is manageable and that you can maintain
7. Keep your sleep and eating regular even when you do not feel like it
8. Exercise to boost your energy

 

Thank you for reading this blog. For further help or advice or to know more about our services please contact us at info@revivepsychology.com or call us on 0208-520-0500 or text/call 07939-000-247.