We all have had times in our lives where we feel sad or unhappy and when we suffer a loss, an illness or a break-up, a normal reaction is to feel down. Although we may describe ourselves as being depressed in these situations, and whilst many of us can feel sad we often improve quickly, this is not depression in a clinical sense.
Depression is treatable and is a recoverable Mental health Illness.
Sad Vs Depressed
Depression in a clinical sense is about having a low mood, but one that continues and lasts for at least 2 weeks but a person with depression can remain in a state of extremely low mood for months even years.
Depression can happen to anyone – and does happen to one in four of us over our lifetimes. Different factors that make it more likely to happen include biological make-up, upbringing, or reaction to life events. What keeps it going though, is how we deal with those things. The way we think and what we do affects the way we feel. Depression is often accompanied by other feelings such as guilt, shame, anger, and anxiety.
It is also losing enjoyment about things they used to like – a general lack of energy or zest for life. It causes people to feel lonely and isolated and can stop them functioning in normal day to day situations. This is not always the case, it is always there but, at times, they can adequately function. What do depressed people say, to watch video – Click here
“It is difficult to describe depression to someone who has never been there because it is not sadness. Sadness is to cry and feel. But it is that cold absence of feeling- that really hollowed out feeling – JK Rowling”
Understanding More About Depression
Depression is a rather large subject to cover in one article as there a number of significant factors at the base of depression. We have listed 2 of these areas – Thoughts and Behaviours as we believe these are two areas that can bring significant change and healing in the short to long term using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
People who are depressed tend to think very negatively about themselves, the future, and the world around them. It can be like seeing life through “gloomy specs”. We can dwell on these thoughts repeatedly, mulling over things, asking ourselves why, thinking regretful things about the past, what we should or shouldn’t have done.
- Everything is hopeless – nothing can change
- I am useless,
- I am worthless
- It is all my fault
- The world is a terrible place – everything goes wrong
The impact of the Negative thinking begins to impact how we feel and behave. Because of these thoughts we can begin to experience these behavioural changes in our lives:
- Difficulty sleeping and eating,
- Negative style of thinking,
- We tend to do less and less,
- We stop doing the things we used to do and enjoy,
- It could get so bad that we can not even go to work, or do things at home,
- We want to stay in bed,
- Stay at home doing very little,
- We might isolate ourselves from friends and family.
Signs and Symptoms
Recognising colleagues’ difficulties at an early stage makes it easier to help them and provide appropriate support. Investing time and effort in promoting the mental and physical wellbeing (the two are linked) of your staff will be repaid many times over in terms of enhanced morale, engagement, loyalty, and productivity.
Be aware that the employee may not even recognise what is happening to them, pretend or deny it is not happening or feel anxious about seeking help.
Signs to be aware of – most signs will initially be subtle unless you know the person well. This is not an exhaustive list and you may well discover additional signs in Books, Websites or YouTube. If you have experience in dealing with depression or a Mental Health First Aider – MHFA you will have learnt the ALGEE Method.
- Avoiding social connection.
- Avoiding things that you enjoy – takes too much effort.
- Gloomy facial expressions
- Sunken posture.
- Expressing Negative thoughts, Expressing negative thoughts about themselves.
- Sadness and low mood.
- Increased absence.
- Decreased performance.
- Self-harm thoughts and expressions.
- Suicidal thoughts, expressions, actions.
Symptoms – Not all symptoms are the same for all persons experiencing Depression
- Low mood, Low self-esteem.
- Negative thoughts, Negative interpretations of events.
- Tiredness and low energy,
- Poor concentration and memory sometimes lasting for weeks.
- Difficulty performing everyday tasks, Poor Sleep.
- Decreased appetite, Low sex drive,
- Irritability, Frustration, and anger.
- Physical aches and pain.
- Feeling like life is pointless, Feeling helpless.
“Everything – Standing, Stepping, Speaking, Moving,Pursuing a train of thought, gets hung up on that loop of hesitation, that ends up feeling like paralysis”
Not a One Fix For All
It is important to understand that not all people with depression will respond to the same treatment because the causes are so complex and finding the right treatment might take some time. It can also be extremely hard for someone with depression to be able to motivate themselves to take positive steps.
Someone living with depression cannot just snap out of it or man up.
Giving support and encouragement can really help a person living with depression find the motivation to make a change for the better. You cannot just switch it on or off. They might know what to do to recover, but they need support in achieving it.
Post Natal Depression
After having a baby 1 in 10 women can experience a type of depression also known as postnatal depression or postpartum depression. Whilst many may think that this can only affect mothers it can also affect men as well. It is quite common for a new mother to experience a sense of being very emotional, feeling tearful and thinking they will not be a good mother.
This is known as the baby blues and usually lasts 3 – 4 days and might be caused because of hormonal changes having the baby, it could also be exhaustion or just being away from home and in a hospital. If it last longer though it might be the start of postnatal depression.
“Feedback from a person who had postnatal depression says it went un-diagnosed from a long period, for 8 years it always felt like something hanging over me. I thought it was normal to get anxious over things and to cry and feel low.”
The symptoms include those of depression, but also anxiety and confusion, if left untreated it can continue for many months and possibly a long-term problem. Many mothers do not want to seek professional treatment as they think health professionals will see them as bad mothers, as such they may be worried that their children will be taken away from them.
Treatment For Depression
Medical professions grade depression according to its severity. It bases this on their PHQ-9 scale for Depression and the GAD-7 scale for Anxiety as they are linked. Mild depression has some impact on a person’s daily life. A GP is likely to diagnose depression if a patient has experienced several psychological and physical symptoms for a two-week period. Mild depression is usually treated using watchful waiting, exercise and self-administered help such as online Talking Therapies, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and self-help books.
Moderate depression has a significant impact on daily life and severe depression is a serious illness that can prevent a person carrying out day-to-day activities. Moderate or severe depression is usually treated with a combination of psychotherapy ( CBT) and
Other Options to Consider
It is important to get a healthy balance of activities which give you a sense of achievement, enjoyment and being close to others. Choose activities which are important to you, have positive meanings, or are purposeful, and you might want to plan rest periods too.
Just increasing your activity and exercise levels will have an enormous impact on your mood and well-being. Studies have proven the benefits of exercise from exercising by stimulating the body to produce natural anti-depressants- Endorphins, typically
- Making us feel better about ourselves
- Making us feel less tired
- Motivating us to do more
- Improving our ability to think more clearly
- Increasing motivation
- Giving us a sense of achievement
- Being with other people
- Stimulating the body to produce natural anti-depressants
- Making us generally more healthy
“It’s about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.”
Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is an amazingly simple concept. Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. Mindfulness does not conflict with any beliefs or traditions, whether religious, cultural, or scientific. It is simply a practical way to notice thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells – anything we might not normally notice.
The actual skills might be simple, but because it is so different to how our minds normally behave, it takes a lot of practice. By becoming more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and body sensations, from moment to moment, we give ourselves the possibility of greater freedom and choice; we do not have to go into the same old “mental ruts” that may have
caused problems in the past.
We can practice, even if only for a couple of minutes at a time, mindful walking. Rather than be “in our heads”, we can look around and notice what we see, hear, and sense. We might notice the sensations in our own body just through the act of walking. Noticing the sensations and movement of our feet, legs, arms, head, and body as we take each step. Noticing our breathing. Thoughts will continuously intrude, but we can just notice them, let them go and then bring our attention back to where we are – out walking.
Managing our Breathing
The primary focus in Mindfulness is the breathing. However, the primary goal is a calm, non-judging awareness, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go without getting caught up in them. This creates calmness and acceptance.
- Sit comfortably, with your eyes closed and your spine reasonably straight.
- Direct your attention to your breathing.
- When thoughts, emotions, physical feelings, or external sounds occur, simply accept them, giving them the space to come and go without judging or getting involved with them.
- When you notice that your attention has drifted off and is becoming caught up in thoughts or feelings, simply note that the attention has drifted, and then gently bring the attention back to your breathing.
It is okay and natural for thoughts to arise, and for your attention to follow them. No matter how many times this happens, just keep bringing your attention back to your breathing.
With thanks to MHFA, GetHelp – Carol Vivyan, Psycology Today, Unsplash, Pexels and New Skills Academy
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Get in touch with us if you have found this article of interest to you or would like more information on our CBT session, Mental Health First Aid or Mental Health in the Workplace for Managers training.