Nobody can be happy all the time but if you have feelings of emptiness or despair that won’t go away you may have depression. Depression makes it hard to enjoy life or function normally. However, depression can be overcome and understanding the symptoms, causes and treatment is the first step to overcoming the problem.
What is Depression?
Depression is more than just sadness. Often people who are depressed don’t feel sad at all, they feel empty, numb or apathetic.
Symptoms of Clinical Depression
- A persistent feeling of impending doom
- Sleep disturbance/Over-sleeping
- Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- Persistent negative thoughts
- Loss of interest in life
- Over/Under eating
- Difficulty concentrating
- Withdrawing from others
- Unexplained aches and pains
- A feeling of being distanced from yourself – the world seems less real
11.2% of women and 7.2% of men will be experiencing depression at any time. However, men are less likely to admit to symptoms. (Statistics from Mind)
Causes of Depression
- Loss (through bereavement, divorce, redundancy, illness)
- Hormonal changes (e.g. after having a baby, menopause)
- Low self-esteem
- Alcohol/Drug use
- Limited exposure to natural daylight (Seasonal Affective Disorder, affecting 1% – 2% of the population
- Unwelcome changes
Chemical changes in the brain in people who have depression can be observed, however, it’s unclear if these cause depression or are as a result of the depression.
- Regular exercise and sleep
- Engaging in supportive relationships
- A good diet
- Challenging negative thought patterns
- Building emotional skills (learning how to recognise and express emotions)
- Light therapy (using a SAD light box for at least 30 minutes every morning)
When to Seek Help
If symptoms have lasted for more than 2 weeks or are interfering with your life it may be time to seek help from your GP and/or a counsellor. A counsellor can help you to recognise and express feelings They can also help you to address low self-esteem, persistent negative thinking and relationship issues.