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While we are all isolated, it can be quite hard to stay positive and keep spirits high. A lot of people will be feeling lonely, down and gloomy; however this doesn’t mean we are all depressed. Below we have put together some information that can help you to identify whether you are suffering from depression or not and if you are – how you can manage and overcome it.
If you can resonate with any of the thoughts above, you may have suffered from depression at some point during your life. Mental health problems are as common as 1 in every 4 people suffering each year. In England alone, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.
In theory, this relates to 3.3 in 100 people in England suffering from depression alone each year. The surveys completed suggest that the overall number of people with mental health problems has not changed significantly in recent years, more how people cope with mental health problems that is on the rise, with the number of those who self-harm or have suicidal thoughts increasing.
Reports from both England & Wales suggest that approximately 1 in 8 adults with a mental health problem are currently receiving treatment, however, if you are someone that thinks you may be suffering but haven’t taken the first steps to getting help, the booklet we have provided below will be a good place to start.
A very common issue, depression can make many people feel low or gloomy at times. This is often a response to life stresses such as bereavement, financial troubles, housing problems or relationship difficulties. For some, the problem can become much worse and starts to interfere with normal life.
The first thing to understand is that depression is a very common mental health problem. At least 1 in 10 people will experience depression at some point in their lives. When at a mild stage, depression won’t stop us from leading a normal life, but when it becomes more severe it can be extremely distressing and debilitating, often accompanied with thoughts of death and suicide.
If you can identify with any of the above, you may be experiencing depression. Most people will feel some of these symptoms from time to time, but when the feelings don’t go away after a few weeks and are persistent throughout the day for most days, most of the time, that’s when the problem arises, and you may be depressed.
You may feel hopeless and alone in the world when you are suffering from depression, blaming yourself for all the faults you believe you have and feeling pretty worthless. Everything around you becomes negative, including your image of yourself, the world around you and your future. You will find yourself losing interest in things going on around you, and no longer get any satisfaction from the things you used to enjoy you begin to withdraw even further into yourself.
It can eventually become hard to make decisions or to carry out even the smallest of tasks that you used to do with absolutely no problem at all. Many people who have suffered from depression say that they don’t even recognise themselves anymore because they feel so different.
A single cause for depression is yet to be found. Typically, there is an accumulation of reasons and this can differ from person to person. Life can be hard sometimes, especially during this pandemic where people are trying to come to terms with bereavements, job losses and the loneliness of isolation. Even though these are all factors that can contribute to becoming depressed, some people can be more vulnerable to depression due to family history of mental illnesses, early experiences, personality factors or body chemistry, and sometimes, there are no obvious reasons at all.
Low moods from time to time are very common, and it would be more unusual if we weren’t to experience these at some point in our lives given all the different factors that can contribute to this; however, it becomes more severe when depression develops. There are a few things that may cause this, such as changes in body chemistry and energy levels which lead to a lack of interest and enjoyment, which then turns to withdrawing from activities both physically and mentally. By withdrawing and not participating in things that you enjoy and value, your mood will drop even more.
Regardless of the cause, there is something that can help in all situations, but just like the cause, the treatment can vary from person to person. You might need changes in your life, whereas someone else might need medication or therapy. Depression can be very complex and really does vary from person to person. You can read more in-depth about research done into depression via the link to the self-help booklet we have composed for you below.
Depression is often treated by a GP; however, the doctor may suggest self-help (like this blog and booklet), a talking therapy, medication or a mixture of all three. If you are suffering, you may be seen by your GP, or your GP may refer you to a specialist; either a psychological therapist, counsellor, psychiatrist or other mental health workers.
The most common form of talking therapies are usually counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), although sometimes other therapies can be offered. Whichever therapy is suggested for you will allow you to begin to understand your own difficulties and start to figure out ways over managing and overcoming depression.
Antidepressants and other medication can sometimes be prescribed your GP or a psychiatrist. The results show that they have been helpful for many people suffering from depression to manage and overcome their depression. Antidepressants help you to feel less depressed by working on chemicals in the brain, and they are not addictive therefore once you begin to feel better and you have spoken and planned with your doctor, you can stop taking them – but ONLY if advised to do so. This shouldn’t cause you any problems and often your doctor will gradually adjust your dose both ways to whichever will help. You can find more information about antidepressants in our booklet below.
The way in which we think about things directly impacts the way we feel, the way we behave and therefore creates a cycle that goes around in circles. It can be a challenge to try and change the way you feel, just telling yourself to get over it and to cheer up – unsurprisingly – doesn’t work. What you can do is change the things you do and the way you think, which will help to change the way you feel. Depending on advice from your GP and how you feel, this can be done with or without medication.
As mentioned in our previous self-help books, increasing your activity levels can really help boost your mental wellness as breathing in oxygen can help boost serotonin in the brain which is our ‘happy’ chemical. Research shows that increased activity is very beneficial in overcoming depression and is actually considered to be as effective as anti-depressants in some circumstances.
You can take a number of positive steps such as the ones displayed above to help overcome your depression which you can read about in more depth in the booklet linked below.
We can start to do things that are rather unhelpful when we become depressed, such as drinking alcohol, staying in bed and binge eating. The first step is to make a note of your daily behaviours so you can start to acknowledge unhelpful behaviour and patterns that are making you feel worse so that you can try to increase positive behaviours.
Depression doesn’t only affect our behaviour, but it can affect our thoughts too. Negative thoughts can often stop you from doing things you would normally do in your day to day life, which can have an impact on your activity levels and your mood. This then may then cause you to start having self-critical thoughts about being lazy or irresponsible for example, which will just add into making you feel even worse, which in turn will make you do less and less. This ends up being a vicious cycle that can be very hard to get out of.
The best way to describe gloomy thoughts would be to redirect you to the diagram at the very top of the blog. When you are feeling low, gloomy thoughts may become so familiar and happen so often that you don’t even acknowledge that they are there and accept them as fact. Gloomy thoughts are often about yourself, your future and the world around you. An important thing to note is that most people have thoughts of these sort at some point during their lives even when they aren’t depressed.
The difference is that they are able to dismiss them from their mind whereas depressed people struggle with this. We explore negative thoughts in more detail in the booklet linked below, including techniques you can utilise to try and begin to change your thoughts.
This blog combined with our booklet is designed to help you begin your progress in understanding, managing and overcoming your depression and low moods, as well as take back control of your thoughts and life. Don’t forget that other help is available to you and it is always best to make your GP aware of your struggles.
If you feel so depressed that you have thoughts of harming yourself or taking your own life, please contact your doctor, a dedicated mental health helpline or 111 as soon as possible to discuss how you are feeling.