Understanding Depression and How to Beat It


Depression is not something you can just “snap out of,” it is not a sign of weakness, it is a real illness with real symptoms.

If you are suffering from depression you are not alone, the World Health Authority reports that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting 1 in 10 of us at some time in our lives. From time to time most people feel sad or miserable, this is a normal occurrence, we cope with these sad feelings and they pass in a week or two, they don’t affect our lives too much. Depression, however, is very different, it is a longer lasting low mood that does not go and can range from making everything you do seem so much harder or even not worth doing at all, to being so severe it stops you from leading your normal life, or even feeling so low you do not feel like carrying on.

Depression can come on slowly, so that it may be some time before you even realize you are depressed. You keep trying to carry on as normal despite the way you feel, perhaps becoming aware of more and more symptoms. Once you begin this downward path of  negative thoughts and worrying, your body continues to release the stress chemical cortisol, which further speeds up your path along this downward spiral. This vicious circle encourages us to go over and over the negative aspects of our lives, perhaps even blaming ourselves, seeing everything in the worst possible light, feeling overwhelmed and seeing our future as grim, often feeling there is no way out. But you can break this vicious circle by taking positive actions which instead of releasing stress chemicals, releases positive chemicals such as, dopamine and serotonin which make us feel happier and increase our wellbeing in a variety of ways. My aims in therapy or coaching are to assist you with this making each step you take a small manageable step, moving at a pace that feels right for you, with no pressure and no judgement.

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There are a variety of symptoms that accompany depression and for most types of depression the symptoms would be felt for longer than two weeks and be causing so much distress that they interfere with your daily life. Not all people with depression, however, will have all of the symptoms that can occur but most will have at least five or six symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of Depression

Emotions

  • Easily becoming tearful with continuous low mood or sadness everyday for most of the time
  • Feeling worthless, useless or hopeless
  • Feeling anxious or worrying
  • Felling empty, numb or with a sense of hopelessness
  • Feeling isolated and separate from others
  • Restlessness and agitated, irritable, impatient or intolerant of others
  • Feeling guilt-ridden or blaming yourself for things

Beliefs and Behaviours

  • Can’t cope the way you used too
  • Memory problems
  • Lack of confidence or low self esteem
  • Difficulties concentrating or making decisions
  • Negative thinking that goes round and round and only seeing a negative future for yourself
  • Loss of interest in things you usually enjoy, such as a reduction in usual hobbies or interests,
  • No longer getting enjoyment in life feeling you can’t be bothered, that there is no point anyway
  • Avoiding social events, friends or other people
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Self harming
  • Suicidal thoughts (If you have these please seek medical help urgently, such as your GP. If in the UK, the Samaritans (116 123) has a 24 hour service every single day, while Childline (08001111) is a helpline for children and young people where calls are free and the number will not be shown on your phone bill).

Physical symptoms

  • Felling utterly tired with a lack of energy
  • Change in appetite or weight
  • Problems with sleep – taking a long time to get to sleep, then waking up too early
  • Or sleeping to much
  • Recurrent unexplained aches and pains
  • Increased use of tobacco or drugs

This list is not meant to be used as any sort of diagnostic tool it is merely for guidance, for you to increase your awareness of areas that may be open to change.


How to help

Unfortunately depression often makes us feel like there is nothing that can help us, or it is too difficult to try, we just want to hide away in our houses, where it is safe and we don’t have to face anyone or do anything. However, this is the worst thing you can do with depression. The key to getting better is to treat it as you would any other illness, such as, the flu, you would find out the best course of action to assist you to feel better. With depression the best course of action is to push yourself to take positive action, even when you don’t feel like it. These don’t have to be big things, in fact it is far better to start with small manageable goals and build up from there. While some people find progress easier with the help and support of friends and family or  a therapist, others prefer to try to help themselves. either way it is important not to stand still and expect to feel better, you must take some action. Below are some steps you can take to help yourself.


Take action – Do things that make you feel good

  • Aim for 8 hours sleep a night
  • Go outside, lack of sunlight can increase depression, a 10 minute walk can lift your mood for 2 hours
  • Relaxation techniques like hypnotherapy, yoga, massage and meditation help to relieve the symptoms of depression, reduce stress as well as increasing feelings of happiness and wellbeing
  • Return to an activity or hobby you used to enjoy
  • Take up a new activity, perhaps something involving meeting new people, such as joining a club
  • Exercise, you could start gently with walking or gardening
  • Allow yourself to be less than perfect
  • Call or meet with friends or family who make you feel loved or cared for, or for a gentler start, perhaps begin with an email or text
  • Take part in social activities, don’t wait until you feel like going – just go - you are going in order to feel better
  • Listen to uplifting music or dance (try dancing around the lounge or while doing housework)
  • Watch a funny TV program or do anything that makes you laugh or smile
  • Carry out some small tasks that need doing, set small goals you can achieve and that will give you a sense of satisfaction
  • Think about one good thing each day that is good in your life, this can be something as simple as watching a beautiful sunset
  • Help someone else


One of the reasons the above activities help is that they have a physical effect on your body as they activate the release of neurochemicals, which help to elevate your mood. There are, however, no instant solutions, your depression won’t lift overnight, but once you start taking positive steps you will be surprised at how your mood begins to lift. However if you would like someone to talk to, someone to help you or you just want to speed the whole process up then contact me for a chat or to arrange a no obligation free initial consultation. We can talk and you can decide if you would like to come to see me, where, using psychotherapeutic techniques with (or without) the hypnotherapy process, I will work alongside you, giving you practical guidance and support, assisting you to take small manageable steps to break the vicious cycle and get the real you back. The about me page explains more about me, my qualifications and my life. If you would like to discuss working together, I very much look forward to hearing from you.


During this process if you do not wish to discuss the issues surrounding your depression or the issues that came before the depression this is absolutely fine, all I really need to know is where you want to be, how you want to feel and what you want to achieve, and even if you are not sure of this we can work together to discover the answers. This process is not about running away from things, the most important thing is that we have something to work towards.


Remember no matter how hopeless or overwhelmed the negative thinking of depression makes you feel, you CAN FEEL BETTER, if you are finding it difficult to help yourself there are many different professionals that can help you. The important thing is that you don’t let it continue, that you are brave enough to ask for help if you need it.

Deciding to do something to help yourself is the most important step you can take.


You may also obtain some benefit from reading the pages about Stress and Anxiety, Negative Thoughts and Emotions and How to be Happier.