What is Depression?

If you have non clinical depression you feel constantly sad for weeks or months.  Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days.

Many of us have periods when we feel down, but depression lasts for more than a few days.

People who are not informed think depression is trivial and not real health issue.  Ignore them, because depression is a real illness with real symptoms. Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together.”

You should always see a doctor if you think that you may be depressed.

 What are the Symptoms of Depression?

Because we are all unique depression affects us all in different ways and can result in a wide variety of symptoms.

Symptoms of depression may be emotional and psychological and can include:  lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety (please see the page on anxiety above).

The psychological symptoms of depression include:

  • continuous low mood or sadness
  • feeling hopeless and helpless
  • having low self-esteem
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilt-ridden
  • feeling irritable and intolerant of others
  • having no motivation or interest in things
  • finding it difficult to make decisions
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • feeling anxious or worried
  • having suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself

The physical symptoms of depression include:

  • moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
  • constipation
  • unexplained aches and pains
  • lack of energy
  • low sex drive (loss of libido)
  • changes to your menstrual cycle
  • disturbed sleep – for example, finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning

The social symptoms of depression include:

  • not doing well at work
  • avoiding contact with friends and taking part in fewer social activities
  • neglecting your hobbies and interests
  • having difficulties in your home and family life

Symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living.

Most people experience feelings of stress, unhappiness or anxiety during difficult times. A low mood may improve after a short period of time, rather than being a sign of depression.

What are the Causes of Depression?

Depression can have many triggers and is called a reactive illness, because it occurs as a result of a major life event.  It can develop for various reasons and therefore, there is no single cause

Triggers can be stressful or upsetting life events such as: bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy etc.  In fact, any upheavals which have a profound effect on you can result in depression.

Often there is a cumulative effect as several issues build and the combined effect can be depression.  For example, you may feel low after being ill and then experience a traumatic event, such as a bereavement, which brings on depression.

People may describe a “downward spiral” of events that leads to depression e.g. your relationship breaks down, you start to feel low, you stop seeing friends and family and you may start drinking more. The combination of effects can make you feel worse and bring on depression.

Research also, suggests that older people are more likely to get depression, and that it’s more common in people who live in difficult social and economic circumstances.

If someone in your family has had depression in the past, such as a parent or sister or brother, it’s more likely that you’ll also develop it.

You may have a higher risk of depression if you have a longstanding or life-threatening illness.  Head injuries can also, be under-recognised causes of depression. A severe head injury can trigger mood swings and emotional problems. 

Dealing With Depression.

If you have been prescribed medication you should never come off it, without talking to your doctor, even when you feel better, because the depression can quickly come back.

Exercise and a good diet can make a big difference to your recovery from depression. Both will improve your general health as well.

A healthy diet can help lift your mood; eating healthily is as important for maintaining your mental health as it is for preventing physical health problems.

Research shows that regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressants at reducing the symptoms of depression.

Being physically active lifts your mood, reduces stress and anxiety, and promotes the release of endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals) and improves self-esteem. Exercising may also be a good distraction from negative thoughts, and it can improve social interaction.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend Mindfulness for people who have had several bouts of depression.

Mindfulness slows us down, it encourages us to be aware of the present moment.  In this way we notice the world around us and also, our own internal feelings and thoughts.  Developing Mindfulness can be a challenge at first, but benefits occur quickly, and practise brings us longer periods of stillness and calm.  It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much.  When we develop Mindfulness we start to appreciate so much more. 

How Can I Help?

I can help you with your diet and ensuring that you include serotonin rich foods which will help you as these produce ‘happy’ chemicals in your brain.

I can also, teach you techniques for Mindfulness and ways to incorporate these in your daily life.

Depression may be caused by suppressed emotion, usually anger.  I can help you deal with this anger in a safe way usually using techniques such as Emotional Freedom Technique, aka Tapping, and Hypnotherapy.

Please note I only treat clients with non clinical depression.