When asked to describe depression, suffers used words like ‘hell’, ‘hopeless’, ‘ghost’, ‘loss’ and one said, ‘Just wanting to stand in a field and scream your head off – but you don’t know why’. What is this condition that affects 1 in 4 of the population at some point, can it be tackled and what steps can be taken?
One might describe depression as a persistent low mood, where the sufferer does not feel good about themselves or their lives and may find it difficult to control their emotions (tearful, irritable, angry). They often feel anxious and do not get any real enjoyment out of life despite any obvious pleasures they may have (good job, money, loving family etc.) Anyone with these symptoms should talk to their doctor to get a proper diagnosis and they can help you to choose a suitable treatment.
Can I recover from depression?
Like the great majority, of clients, with the right treatment you can make a full recovery and be back to your normal self. Many people will undergo several therapies designed to manage the symptoms that you are feeling and to help you recover and cope in the future. A common combination will be antidepressant medication and counselling, which will help you to uncover the process and mechanisms that your depression and anxiety is using allowing you to take control once more.
Often we are resistant to taking up treatment, we feel obligated to put on a happy face, to keep going for others, even when that is the last thing that we want to do. It is very rare for us to take the time for ourselves, to sit down and talk openly and honestly about how we are feeling - it's much easier to bottle it all up. Yet if we take no action how are things to improve? What actual things are we likely to have to do or change?
How can you take action?
It is likely that your GP will talk to you about the benefits of antidepressant medicine and it is worthwhile exploring the benefits and any fears you may have with your doctor.
Other treatments are likely to be suggested as well, talking therapies like counselling have been shown to be very effective in countering depression and helping clients recover quickly. These work by looking at what has been happening from your point of view (without judging you) and seeing if there are different perspectives or different ways of looking at situations or problems. In practical terms this changes your awareness of how you process your world and enables you to see a different perspective in addition to the narrow perspective that the depressed thinking was offering. The therapist will also work with you to ensure that you have those skills going into the future.
Clients are often surprised at the small changes that they can make that make a big difference. Depression often makes us care less about ourselves, we dress less well, we eat poorly and we don’t exercise. Simply changing these things, going for a walk each day, eating more healthily and looking after yourself have all been shown to make a difference to the mood of those with depression. They are all in your control and cheap if not free. While the initial motivation can be hard, the boost from the achievement will be a positive force in your recovery.
In conclusion, depression is a mood disorder that has the capacity to enter and disrupt every corner of our lives. Its vice like grip can be hard to break free of. Yet with the help of doctors, counsellors and yourself you can break free, like many who have gone before.