Depression

depression

How do I know if I am depressed?

Depression has entered our common language as a descriptor for a particular mood, however when we say that we are feeling depressed we are often talking about feeling sad or gloomy, a condition that we expect to lift in a day or two.

Depression as a clinical condition is different from this; it is not just a transient mood that will come and go in a day or two, it is something that persists for weeks or even months and can return at regular intervals.

Clinical depression is characterised by the following symptoms: a loss of interest and motivation, pervading feelings of sadness, guilt, irritability, hopelessness, a lack of enjoyment, and difficulties in making decisions.

If you are experiencing these symptoms then it is likely then you may be suffering with depression.

If you are then you are not alone, depression is very common amongst the UK population and is often accompanied by anxiety. Roughly one in ten people in the UK suffer with a mixed depression and anxiety condition every year. But how do we understand depression?

How do we understand depression?

Some people regard depression as trivial, not as a genuine condition but as a sign of weakness, something that people ought to be able to just snap out of. If you have experienced depression yourself then you will know how far from the truth this representation of depression is. Unfortunately this kind of attitude vastly underestimates the debilitating effects of depression and creates a stigma around it which often makes it difficult for people with depression to talk about their condition and to reach out for support.

On the other side there has been a move to define depression as a medical condition, an illness like any other illness with a range of symptoms accompanying it. This way of making sense of depression has been helpful as it has served to combat the stigma around it however it has also put the idea into people’s minds that depression is simply a medical condition, a chemical imbalance in the brain, and not something that relates to the wider aspects of a person’s life. It has also encouraged people to think that their depression is out of their control and that the only way to overcome it is by taking medication.

This idea is also not true; depression is often the result of a combination of factors, biological disposition being only one of many factors. To understand depression fully it is important to understand the wider aspects of our lives, our relationships and our history. Whilst medications have proven helpful for many people suffering with depression there has also been a gradual shift away from this as a stand-alone intervention and a move towards psychotherapeutic treatments that appreciate and address the complex factors that contribute to depression.

How did I come to feel depressed?

The factors that bring about depression are unique to each of us, a complex story that weaves together a myriad of different influences, including the lessons we learned about ourselves from our past, stresses placed upon us in the present and the relative security that we experience in the context of our relationships (amongst other factors).

For some of us the current trigger for our depression will be clear enough, we can relate it to the loss of a loved relative, or the introduction of a critical manager at work, or how bad we feel about ourselves when we look in the mirror. For others however the triggers will seem less clear and depression will take on an automatic and out of control quality, creeping up on us as if out of the blue.

However our depression comes about the impact of it upon our lives can be severe.

How does depression affect people?

Some people think that depression is minor and that people really ought to just be able to ‘pull themselves together’ and ‘snap out of it’ however if you have experienced depression you will know that depression can be debilitating and that it is not at all easy to just ‘snap out of’.

The following are just some of the ways in which depression can have a negative impact upon us:

  • Loss of interest and motivation
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Anger and irritability
  • Relationship problems
  • Low self-esteem
  • Problems with assertiveness
  • Work problems

How does psychotherapy help with depression?

Depression can seem so elusive, when we feel depressed it is often hard to think straight or to know how we are feeling, and it is often hard to make sense of what has brought on our depressed mood. Indeed it may even seem as if nothing has brought it on, that we are feeling the way that we are simply because our biology has gone haywire.

Psychotherapists are trained to listen out for and to help us to identify the thoughts and feelings that operate under the radar of consciousness and which can be key to understanding our depression. Through bringing these thoughts and feelings to light, gradually a story can emerge that makes sense of how we are feeling and why we have come to feel this way. It is through this process that we gain a greater understanding of the problems contributing to our depression and ultimately a clearer picture as to how these issues can be tackled and the depression alleviated.

sunrise

Working with depression takes a skilled clinician. Your therapist at Hitchin counselling and psychology is fully trained and professionally accredited. This means that you can trust that you are being supported by a therapist who is competent and has experience in helping people to overcome the sort of difficulties with depression that you are experiencing. It also means that you can feel reassured that your therapist will abide by sound ethical principles designed to maintain your privacy, to respect your autonomy and to safeguard your well-being.

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