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Depression symptoms, information and help to get better

Depression symptoms, information and help to get better

There are many forms of depression, which can have a negative affect on moods and emotions, thinking patterns and how a person views life as a whole, physical fitness and energy levels, the ability to concentrate and/or sleep and interest in sex. At the lower end of the scale, it could describe a period of being in low spirits, which could impact the quality of things that people do, but wouldn’t affect the day to day activities that they carry out. At the other end of the scale, depression can affect a sufferer in a much more adverse way – stopping the normal functioning in life and sometimes the loss of life if the person gives up on life completely.

Symptoms of depression

Psychological symptoms:

• Depressed mood, which incorporates feeling low, sad, guilty or numb

• Increased anxiety and worry about things that may not have caused anxiety in the past

• A low self esteem

• Crying and sadness

• Persistent negative thoughts about themselves and life around them. This can be distracting and the lack of concentration it causes can affect their memory, which in turn makes them feel frustrated.

• Increased anger and feeling irritable, perhaps with an increased intolerance of others

• Confusion and inability to decide and be clear about goals

• Decreased enjoyment of activities or lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed

• A reduced sex drive

• The inability to enjoy or take part in activities and confusion about life can lead to self criticism where they can believe that they are worthless, inadequate, bad, useless and disliked

• A sense of hopelessness can prevail in severe cases where there is a strong belief that there is no hope of being happy gain and no point in carrying on. They get into the rut of not feeling any desire to help themselves and this can lead to consideration or carrying out of their suicide. (suicidal thoughts and actions is also a symptom of borderline personality disorder)

• Psychosis (loss of reality, delusions, hallucinations, feeling of running on automatic) can occur if the stress and anxiety gets too much. (this is also a symptom of borderline personality disorder)

Physical symptoms:

• A loss of energy is common, with the person feeling tired very often

• Eating patterns can be affected, with the person either eating much more or less than usual

• IBS and constipation can occur, as the stress levels affect the gut and bowel.

• General fitness is reduced, and aches and pains are very common

• The menstrual cycle can be affected

• Lack of sleep – either difficulty getting to sleep or waking up very early – this will also affect the persons energy levels and can turn into insomnia

• Loss of interest in sex

Social symptoms:

• All these negative symptoms can affect a persons abilities and concentration at work

• Withdrawing from social activities and friends, due to irritability, lack of motivation and inability to concentrate.

• Not taking part in previous past times

• Difficulties in relationships with family, friends and work colleagues

What can affect the chances of getting depression?

• Possibly an underactive thyroid – those with an underactive thyroid have slower metabolic rates than others, which can cause lethargy, weight gain and depression

• Some recreational drugs can influence the chances of depression

• Physical illness, low fitness levels and poor diet can all promote depression

• Losing a parent when young

• Those who have a very low self esteem

• Single mothers who do not have much support

• Those with a repetitive cycle of negative life experiences (divorce, moving house or job, loss of earnings etc)

• Unemployment – when for a long period

• Those who live in Cities

• Abusive or neglectful childhoods

• Those who do not have a supportive network

• Unresolved mourning of the death or loss of someone close

• Major life changes such as changing jobs, divorce etc

• Loss of job or status

Depression forms a vicious circle – depression can lead to feeling more depressed that you are depressed and negative thoughts about oneself and the world can get out of control and the depressive symptoms can get more severe as time goes on, if the cycle is not stopped. Whatever caused the depression in the first place can get lost, as the depression reeks havoc on ones life.

Thought processes that can occur

Black and white thinking – everything is black or white, with no grey areas – good or bad with no in between or mix. If you fail an exam, you may think ‘I’m useless’ which is not true, you just failed one exam. Someone does something you don’t like and you think ‘He’s a horrible person’ when there is no proof of this.

Generalising – when something is wrong, one might think that EVERYTHING is wrong, when it is not the truth. A negative thought is carried over into many other areas and positive things can be thought of as negatives. Looking on the dark side of everything and jumping to conclusions.

Living by rules – Making unrealistic rules and expectations about our lives and how we should be can lead to disappointment, guilt and a feeling of failure.

Catastrophising – When an event occurs, we might see if for far more than it is – how bad or how awful. In this case, the prediction of failure or real disaster are over estimated

Some other types of depression are:

Bipolar Disorder (previously named manic depression)

This disorder is defined by a cyclical change of mood from mania (severe highs and excitability) and depression (low mood).

Psychotic depression

When depression is very severe, it can lead to delusions and possibly hallucinations (psychosis). Psychosis can also occur when someone has tried to dissociate from an upsetting event. Trying to forget about an event, but not dealing with it can make psychosis to occur.

Post natal depression

Depression which occurs between 2 weeks and up to a year after giving birth,

SAD (seasonal affective disorder)

Usually linked to the winter, this depression occurs with lack of sunlight. The person will wish to sleep more and eat more carbohydrates.

Treatments for depression

Getting over depression can take some time and needs commitment, strength and energy to overcome the symptoms. Working on negative thoughts is very important, as depression is like a computer virus in a way – it feeds itself and multiplies. By that, I mean that a negative thought can lead to a negative action and behaviour. The outcome from the negative behaviour and action can lead to more negative thoughts about oneself or the world around us. This can soon go on and on and spiral into a deep depression. The worse one gets, the deeper into depression they get. It is hard, at times, to find the positive thoughts and actions in oneself, but you have to really want to change your life and feel better and imagine a happier life to keep you going.

Also, try to look after yourself:

• Eat well

• Try not to have alcohol

• Exercise (keeping busy and active is very good – dancing, walking, social groups)

• Look after your appearance

• Treat yourself to things (only if your budget allows of course – try to remain debt free)

• Try to keep a social life and avoid being a recluse

All those things will help you to feel better about yourself, and worthy.

There are also a range of alternative treatments and complimentary therapies that you could try – I particularly find massage very relaxing.

Medical treatments

Anti-depressants – I am not well versed on them, so cannot comment too much, but they are offered readily by GP’s. They work on the chemical messengers in ones brain to lift ones mood. They are not a cure, but offer to help with symptoms enough to allow the patient to deal with their depression more easily. There can be side effects and they do not work for everyone, and coming off them has to be slow as they can cause withdrawal symptoms. It is recommended to take them for at least six months and they begin to work between two and four weeks after the start of a course.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – again I know little about this therapy, but the electrical process (electrical current through the brain) is administered whilst under general anaesthetic producing convulsion to overcome very severe depression and psychosis.

Psychological treatments

There are various treatments on offer – I will talk about the ones I have experienced:

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – When we are depressed, we can view the world, ourselves and the future negatively, which keeps us depressed. The pattern of negativity has to be broken. CBT works on core beliefs that we have and our thoughts affect our behaviour and actions. If we say to ourselves, I can’t ride a bike, then we wont even try, and then we will be hard on ourselves for not trying, consider ourselves a failure, and so on. If we change the though to ‘I will be able to ride a bike’ then we will at least try and go from there. CBT focuses on identifying dysfunctional thinking and change it so that our behavioural patterns will change. Then we can begin to change the symptoms that keep us depressed – stop the vicious circle as it were. I tried this therapy and found it extremely helpful. Often, the best effects will come after therapy has finished, as it sinks in and becomes a new way of thinking and behaving.

Psychotherapy – this individual therapy focuses on the relationships the person with depression has with other people. It can also delve into childhood experiences to find answers to the formation of depression and relationships. Unfortunately I did not give it long enough to work for me, but I found the talking and unearthing of the past useful at the time, but also detrimental as we unearthed things and didn’t continue long enough to deal with those things or understand them. This is why I wrote my memoir in the end.

Counselling – this one to one therapy is based on talking with a person trained to listen with empathy and acceptance. I had around one year of counselling, and found it very useful as I had the support of someone and someone to talk to who didn’t judge me. They way it works is to talk about your feelings and actions in order to find out your own solutions to things. The counsellor does not give you the answers, but listens and guides the conversations.

There are many other ways to recover and I would suggest that the first place to go is to your GP who can offer medications or offer referrals to relevant services.

You can also try the many charities listed on my site – CLICK HERE

Things that can get in the way of recovery:

• BEING IN DENIAL – My biggest problem was that, although I received many therapies over the years, for my depression, I was still in denial. To me, events and my depression was everyone else’s fault except mine. Looking back over my life for real, showed me that it clearly was not. Since coming out of denial, in the past year, I have been able to eradicate depression and other symptoms I suffer with, such as paranoia and anxiety. Working on symptoms one by one was the key, but the real factor was when I stopped being in denial. Once that happens, you are able to seek the right kind of help, admit to people that you have some issues, and face it head on to fight it. I still get depressed, but I am now able to ‘nip it in the bud’ before the minutes or hours turn into days and weeks. I believe mental disorder is part of the make up of a person, therefore the goal is not to ‘get rid of all symptoms’ but to work with them in order to be able to cope with them. Living in a world of stating that everything bad that happens to you is because of other people, is never going to work. (I have many examples if you decide to take this story on – my bankruptcy, boyfriends, friends, selling my flat and jobs). NO-ONE CAN BE HELPED IF THEY ARE IN DENIAL. Once you come out of denial, you can get help, start to understand yourself and can share your burden, and help yourself to survive.

• Another major issue on getting help, particularly from the NHS and within a close circle of people, is that I ‘look alright’. But the thing is, those people don’t see me when I am indoors, suffering at times. When I go out I dress nicely and do my hair – of course I do – and I smile quite a lot through adversity so it is not surprising that people come to this conclusion too. This persona issue can very much stop you from getting help or support of any kind.

To get help you need to come to terms with your problem, take it on as your own, and then seek help, tell others so that they can help you too. Don’t be scared to tell people. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

STIGMA – The stigma also gets in the way though as many people under-estimate the force of depression – “Oh yeah, she just needs to deal with it” they may think or say. I have had it myself from friends and family, and it makes you feel even more lonely. Education is needed to help more people understand what it really feels like to suffer with depression, and other mental health disorders, as many think individuals are making it up, because you cannot ‘see’ it. (read more about the stigma surrounding mental health issues by CLICKING HERE)

So far, you can see some of my mental health ‘beat the stigma’ campaign by using the drop down boxes on the top banner of this website.

And more information on my pages by CLICKING HERE

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