Depression and how to help yourself
Depression affects one in six people, at some point in their lives, according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists website. If you are feeling depressed, you may feel that you are different from other people and that people notice that you are feeling this way.
People experience depression for a variety of reasons but these are not always obvious and can follow on from an event which was anticipated as joyful, such as moving home, or having a baby. Changes and transitions can trigger feelings which persist, and losses such as bereavement, redundancy or relationship breakdown can lead to a mood which interferes with every day life, over a prolonged period.
Depression is not simply feeling sad or loss in response to an event, but a persistent low mood, inability to enjoy life and take an interest in things, struggling to cope and feeling exhausted or agitated but without motivation or energy. You may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches. Depression may have crept up on you so that in struggling to manage, you feel more and more exhausted.
The first port of call, would be your GP, to access treatments such as counselling, therapy or medication. You can also access self-help materials online which help you look at thinking styles or ways of perceiving your situation. Therapy may help you to talk about your feelings and experiences, to feel less alone and to plan for different ways of coping, or to explore the situation you are in.
At home you can help yourself by exercising, even if its a walk round the block, as there is a strong link to improved mood with regular movement. Avoid dwelling on your thoughts and find activities to do instead. Try to find a relaxation technique (there are lots of free online resources) to help you let go of tension and stress and practise daily. Talk to anyone you trust about how you feel or ring a helpline. Keeping it to yourself makes you feel heavier. Write down your worries, thoughts or feelings or draw them, which helps stop you dwelling upon them. Try to do things you enjoy even if its hard, as this will help you begin to feel more like yourself.
Finally accept that you are unwell and just like a broken leg, time is needed to heal. Be kind, and allow yourself to work towards recovery. Try to accept help and support and ask for it, when you need it. You can improve your mood and depression can lift, but it does take time and everyone is different and will find different things work. Try to maintain hope and if you can't, then find someone who can maintain it for you, until you are ready to take back control for yourself.
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About Fiona Corbett
Fiona Corbett BACP accredited counsellor.
I work in private practise in Nottingham with individuals, couples, small groups. My training is in humanistic counselling and psychodynamic psychotherapy.
I work with people experiencing depression, anxiety, relationship issues, abuse, bereavement, workplace stress and a wide range of issues.