I started writing these blogs to share information about common mental health issues and offer suggestions that could help people who were struggling. Talking about #depression is important. You can read about ways I have managed to help people start to feel a little bit more like themselves again. I adapt my approach for individual clients but many aspects of therapy for treating depression are the same. One of the first steps is to instill a sense of hope that things can and will get better. My message here is to tell you that you don’t have to stay like this. You can get past it. I will share what I have learned, what has helped my clients and perhaps there will be something here that will help you.
Depression can happen to anyone – and does happen to one in four of us over our lifetimes. Next time you are out and about, look around you and picture that one in four. Can you tell which ones they are – probably not, but they are there. Someone once suggested that people with depression should wear a super hero outfit so others can tell who they are…those people fighting the fight against depression every day. Depression is also often accompanied by other feelings such as guilt, shame, anger and anxiety. Although depression can happen to anyone, different factors make it more likely. These factors include biological make-up, upbringing, or reaction to life events. Some people seem to become taken over by depression, while others manage to overcome it. The difference is rooted in what keeps the depression going – how you deal with things. The way you think and what you do affects the way you feel.
People who are in a depressed mind state tend to think very negatively about themselves, the future and the world around them. It can be like seeing life through a pair of grey, gloomy spectacles. You can dwell on unhelpful thoughts repeatedly, mulling over things, asking yourself why, thinking regretful things about the past, and what you should or shouldn’t have done.
To make it worse, depression is accompanied by various physical sensations such as: tiredness, fatigue, and lethargy; difficulty concentrating or remembering; sleep changes; eating changes; a loss of interest in things such as hobbies, activities, and sex.
Because of the tiredness, difficulty sleeping and eating, and negative style of thinking, you tend to do less and less. You stop doing the things you used to enjoy. It could get so bad that you can’t even go to work or college, or do things at home. You want to stay in bed, or stay at home doing very little. You might isolate yourself from friends and family.
Depression is now one of the most common disorders treated by psychiatrists and psychotherapists. It poses special problems to therapists as it is a complex disorder that affects the whole person: emotions, bodily functions, behaviours and thoughts. Although depression can be treated with antidepressant medication and psychotherapy, a significant number of people with depression don’t respond to either, leaving them feeling desperate and helpless. In the past 20 years there have been significant developments in the pharmacological and psychological treatments of depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRls) have been found to be effective in relieving severe depression, but 40% to 50% of depressed people don’t respond adequately to these drugs, and a substantial number are left with residual symptoms of depression. Antidepressant medications don’t alleviate psychosocial problems such as relationship difficulties, interpersonal conflicts and occupational stress that might have triggered the depression in the first place. They also don’t address the emotional needs that may be lacking in a person’s life.
Many forms of psychotherapy for depression have evolved over recent years to try to address this side of depression. One of the most extensively studied psychosocial treatments for depression that has been shown to be effective is cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). However, just as with antidepressant medication, a significant proportion of people with depression don’t respond to CBT. Between 50% and 75% of people with depression also experience anxiety and there’s considerable overlap between the two conditions but people aren’t usually treated for both problems at the same time.
So what can be done to help someone who is suffering with depression? In the next part of this series of blogs you can read about what depression is and is not, and therefore what can be done to help you overcome it. If you are struggling with depression, please consider getting professional help.
If you are in the UK and need to talk to somebody as soon as possible:
Samaritans UK – 08457 90 90 90
Samaritans ROI – 1850 60 90 90
Your doctor can help refer you to a therapist or you can seek help directly. I specialise in working to help people overcome depression and anxiety and I’m based in #York. If you need some help I can be reached via my website at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com/contact.html