What is Depression?
Depression is a disorder of mood where a person feels sad, unmotivated, withdrawn and joyless for a lengthy period of time. Left untreated it can affect our relationship with ourselves, our relationships with others, our work, our creativity and sometimes even our desire to be on this earth.
Some signs of depression can include:
- Feeling sad, tearful and down much of the time for more than a few weeks.
- Noticing a loss of pleasure in things that you previously liked to do.
- Experiencing an increase or decrease in appetite leading to a change in body weight.
- Sleep disruption – insomnia or over-sleeping.
- Feeling slow in your thought processes or body.
- Feeling agitated and restless in your mind and body.
- Experiencing fatigue and loss of motivation to do things.
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
- Having difficulty concentrating, making decisions or thinking.
- Having frequent thoughts about self-harm, dying or suicide.
Depression as a disorder is different to having a down day or two. Everybody experiences depressed mood at times and this is perfectly normal, particularly if something negative has happened. It becomes a problem, however, when it lingers over the longer term and starts to affect how we function and relate to ourselves and others. If we are in touch with what is ‘normal’ for us, we may know that we are not right within a few weeks. Others, who are less self-aware may not know something is wrong until someone else points it out, or things start to fall apart such as losing a job or a relationship.
Why do we get depressed?
- Life stressors – negative events such as losing a loved one, becoming unemployed, sustaining a severe injury or being a victim of crime; or accumulated life problems such as the breakdown of a relationship, new parenthood, a disliked job or workplace bullying or harassment.
- Experiencing other mental health issues such as anxiety or chronic stress that have not been recognised or treated effectively.
- Unresolved trauma from the past.
- Physiological issues that affect the level of key brain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine which regulate mood. This could be from poor nutrition, lack of exercise or chronic health issues.
- Personality style such as being a pessimist or chronic worrier.
- Genetic predisposition – depression can run in families.
Having a negative thinking style that affects how you think about yourself, your relationships and the world around you.
Mood disorders are highly treatable!
Depression is a highly treatable condition for most people, particularly if it is caught early. Psychologists have many proven tools to help and there are effective medications too if required. So many of the clients I see have been suffering for months or years before they seek help. It’s as if somehow we have convinced ourselves that it is acceptable to feel miserable for long periods of time. It’s ironic that we will attend to something like a leaky roof or service our car more promptly than we will attend to our own needs.
Here are some reasons why I think depression symptoms should be addressed promptly:
- Depression feels awful!
- Depression leaves you with brain fog that stifles creativity and sucks the joy out of life.
- It can keep us distant from the people we love such as our partners or children.
- Depression sometimes reflects underlying issues with anxiety or stress.
- Left untreated, depression can eat away at your self-esteem and confidence.
- Depression can interfere with healthy relationships.
- Over time, depression can lead to or aggravate negative, critical thinking habits that then become hard to shift.
Wouldn’t you rather feel:
- Clear headed and free in your thinking
- Fully present and energetic with the people you love
- Able to experience joy again
- Able to access your creativity again
- Feeling good about yourself and optimistic about the future
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