Sadness, like happiness, is a way of life, but when someone is depressed energy drains from you and can make you exhausted and unable to concentrate on anything for very long. Doing tasks such as washing up, talking, cleaning the house or even getting out of bed can be an impossibility. Depression can distort the way you feel and can hit hard.
The ancient Greeks recognised depression as a medical condition, but did not distinguish it from other forms of mental illness. This attitude persisted right through to modern times. Europeans in the 17th and 18th century frequently used the word melancholia to describe a whole range of mental illness. People didn’t often go to the doctors in fear of being locked away in lunatic asylums as their condition was classed as a nuisance.
Take a look at some of these quotes by celebrities who have dealt with depression over the years…
It’s like a kettle. If it’s a kettle, your turn the kettle off, you know what I mean? I wish I could put a hole in my head and let the steam come out. The steam was getting so high and the pressure was just getting a little bit much for me. (BBC Radio 4)
My twenties were a write off. It’s a cruel illness, because you can’t see it and you can hide it so well. (The Independent)
I have got so low that I have asked to be hospitalised for deep narcosis (sleep). I cannot stand being awake. The pain is too much. Something has happened to me, this vital spark has stopped burning. I go to a dinner table now and I don’t say a word, just sit there like a dodo. Normally I am the centre of attention, keeps the conversation going, so that is depressing in itself. It’s like another person taking over, very strange. The most important thing I say is “good evening” and then I go quiet. (Sligo Town website and Wikipedia)
In the mildest form you may just feel low, but it doesn’t stop you leading a normal life. At its worse it can be life threatening at times making you feel suicidal or give up the will to live. Deciding to do something about depression is the most important step you can take.
Depression affects one in three people at some time in their life. It can change eating habits, sleeping patterns and have over whelming feelings of despair. Some describe it as being in prison with no windows and doors.
Change in sleeping patterns.
Change in eating patterns.
Loss of appetite or over eating.
Worthlessness, tiredness, loss of energy.
Headaches, stomach upsets or chronic pain.
Persistent thoughts of death or suicide.
Restless and agitated.
Doing less and less.
Smoking more, drinking more or doing drugs.
Crying a lot.
Irritable and impatient.
Lacking confidence and self-esteem.
Being preoccupied with negative thoughts.
Numb and empty, helpless.
Taking a bleak, pessimistic view of the future.
Past experiences can have a profound effect on how we feel about ourselves in the present. If we are negative this can start a downhill spiral. Depression can also be caused by a past trauma for example, being at war, being raped etc. Or it can just appear for what seems like no reason.
What can you do to help yourself?
Keep a record of negative thoughts which make your mood low, then challenge them, write down the for and against for holding onto these feelings. Look at other ways to view the situation, make a positive out of a negative.
Look after yourself by keeping active. The less you do the less you want to do, so set yourself small goals each day.
See a Counsellor or go to a self help group, you could talk to your GP about antidepressants.
Your GP could set you up with 6 counselling sessions, a counsellor may work with problem solving therapy which will break down your problems into a manageable size, and hopefully they will discuss strategies for coping with depression. Also CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) counselling helps to challenge negative thought patterns. When I work with depression, dependent on the case I tend to explore what triggered the depression, so the client had a little understanding of why it started.
Some people with depression have suicidal thoughts, so please don’t assume you’re going mad. If this happens please tell a friend or family member, also tell your GP. You will probably feel better just for telling someone. Your Doctor can monitor your progress and put you in touch with a therapist or other support groups.