In the formation of depression genetic predisposition plays a role but this does not wholly create depression.
We may feel depressed as a reaction to life’s experiences such as some kind of a loss or the impact of a life milestone such as leaving home, financial concerns, issues at work or retirement etc.
However depression may also be deeply routed in our psyche.
This may be due to repressed feelings related to earlier traumatic experiences. If we haven’t had the opportunity to talk, be supported and heard, stuff kind of gets stored up and can interfere with our sense of well being in such a way that we can feel heavy or burdened.
We can lose interest or worry about life and don’t seem to have much in the way of energy. Our appetite and sleep patterns can be impacted and we might find ourselves withdrawing from general every day activities or for instance find ourselves drinking alcohol more than is good for us.
Other symptoms may be experienced such as low mood, suicidal thoughts or feeling unworthy in some way.
I see the word depression not as a label which may objectify a person but one which invites curiosity.
Diagnosis in this sense is not a goal but a tool which supports the therapeutic process.
The following information may offer further guidance in having a greater understanding of depression.
These are the thoughts of two people who are depressed:
“I feel so alone, I never see my friends now. I guess they have dropped me. It feels like they don’t like me. It is hard to keep going and respect myself. I feel a failure.”
“I am so tired and can’t get interested in anything. It’s difficult to get started with jobs I should be doing, Simple tasks can be a challenge.”
If you are depressed, you may have had similar thoughts yourself. Depression is a very common problem and many people feel low or down in the dumps at times. This is often because of life stresses such as bereavement, money or housing problems or difficulties in relationships. But for some people the problem becomes much worse and normal life itself becomes difficult.
So Depression is a very common problem. Many people will at some time experience symptoms of depression. In its mildest forms depression does not stop you from leading a normal life, but the most severe depression can be life threatening, with thoughts of death and suicide.
There are signs or symptoms that you may experience if you are depressed such as, feelings of sadness, lack of energy, tiredness, loss of libido, losing interest, feeling isolated and on your own, sleep problems, increasing reliance on alcohol, drugs, disturbances to your appetite, lack of motivation ,negative thinking patterns etc.
Of course not everyone who is depressed has all of these symptoms. And even if you are not seriously depressed, it is usual to feel some of these things from time to time. Most people find it helpful to talk over these feelings with somebody who cares. However if these feelings are very strong or continue a depression may have developed. When this happens you need to take steps to help yourself or seek help from perhaps from a counsellor or psychotherapist.
As I previously stated, no single cause for depression has been found. Usually there is more than one reason and this differs from person to person, but sometimes it can happen without any obvious reason.
Some people seem to be more vulnerable than others to becoming depressed. This may be because of body make up (including body chemistry) or because of early life experiences and family influences. Some people may be more inclined to “look on the gloomy side” of life in general, and this may make them more likely to develop a depression.
There are things which you can do to help yourself to feel better, such as, consult with your doctor to assess whether there are any underlying health issues which may be contributing to your low mood.
If it is possible and you are physically able, perhaps with the advice of your doctor take more exercise. Why not spend time on finding things which interest you and having a go with these. Make a start to tackle tasks that you may have been avoiding. Bite off small chunks, a little at a time and give yourself credit for your achievements.
Talk to others. As they say a trouble shared could be a trouble halved!! You may be surprised to find those you talk to may have felt depressed at some time and can understand how you feel.
Pay attention to how you are looking after yourself. Explore getting the right balance with food, drinking, exercise and rest. It is important to be nourished and appropriately hydrated. For example make sure that you are drinking plenty of water.
Be mindful of negative thought patterns and on the look out for the voice of the judge…that critic that can bring us down especially when we are feeling vulnerable. This usually shows with the internalisation of the message ‘we should / ought to be doing such and such or we will be failures’
Most people are treated for depression by their family doctor. The doctor may suggest counselling as a form of talking treatment or antidepressant tablets or both.
The talking treatments are usually counselling or other forms of therapy. These will help you understand your own difficulties and begin to work out ways of overcoming depression.
Counselling can help people to challenge their negative thinking and get on with their lives.
Whatever type of therapy is used, it will usually take a little time before you begin to feel the benefits, but treatment of this kind has helped many people and can be very effective.
So if someone says to me that they feel depressed as a counsellor I am interested in finding out more about their experience. What life is like and how their symptoms impact on them.
I would want to find out what’s going on in your life and what contributes or has contributed to your depression.
Through a process of gentle and supportive therapeutic counselling enquiry you can gain more understanding and appreciation of what is underlying to your depression.
In this new awareness you can learn about what works for you, what is going to help and what might hold you back.
As your counsellor I will be there with you as you make changes which are going to enhance the quality of your life as you move toward a more energetic and less depressed place.
Stephen Derrick - Depression Counselling Hull