Feeling sad and unhappy is a normal response to loss or a general lack of positive experiences in our lives.
If these feelings settle in and become the norm, lasting for weeks and often far longer, then you may be experiencing depression.
We are all potentially vulnerable to depression, including even the strongest people who appear to outsiders to have so much going for them.
It is a potentially serious mental health problem and it is important to reach out to a safe person for help before it deepens and pervades our lives, often with long term implications.
Depression affects each person slightly differently and there are different forms of depression, but some of the more common symptoms that a depressed person may experience include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or low mood
- A sense of hopelessness
- Reduced pleasure in activities
- Feeling anxious
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Indecisiveness or difficulty concentrating
- Loss of appetite
- Low or no sex drive
- Feeling irritable
- Thinking about self-harm
One of the simplest and most powerful things we can do when we are feeling low is to step back and reflect on the amount of pleasure and achievement we have in our daily lives.
→ Have we let go of activities that used to give us joy?
→ Have we pulled back from interacting with other people?
When we feel low it is natural to feel like pulling back. Working with clients to rebuild positive experiences in their daily lives can often make a significant difference to their well-being, their feelings about themselves and their sense of belonging.
It is a useful starting point and for many it is a helpful catalyst for the process of recovery, which is supported by a series of compassionate therapeutic interventions that rebuild well-being and health.
In addition to making behavioural changes, effective treatments for depression will normally include elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Mindfulness generally (including self-compassion). Depending on the severity and the type of depression involved, and client preferences, a range of other interventions may be included.
For some people, the most effective treatment may involve a combination of therapy and medication. Anti-depressant medication is prescribed by a General Practitioner or a Psychiatrist.