The real truth behind depression
Depression is an illness that more and more of us are experiencing first hand. We can have direct experience through suffering ourselves or know of someone who suffers. While depression is serious it is far from hopeless. Yet still myths persist and many people are confused about the practical steps that you can take.
The first thing to say is depression is more than just a low mood or having a bad day or week. If you suffer from depression you need help to recover. Depression is an illness and should be treated the way you would treat any other major illness, with compassion, with support and with professional help.
Depression is universal; it affects men, women, young and old. There are many symptoms but you rarely have all of them, some of the common ones are: a feeling of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt; sleep disruption; a lack of concentration; changes in appetite; an inability to make decisions and using alcohol or drugs to improve your mood.
Depression can really distort your perception of reality, making your view of yourself and others completely unrealistic. This can mean that those suffering depression can become anxious as well.
If you think that you are depressed then there are three things that you can do.
- Talk to someone about how you are feeling. That could be a friend or a family member. It could be your doctor. A good first step is to talk about the feelings and to stop trying to cope alone. All of these people are in a position to offer support. Your GP will be able to talk to you about medication and talking therapies, both of which successfully treat depression.
- Look at how you care for yourself. Studies have shown that people who are depressed take less care of themselves, their appearance, their diet and health. Look and see if you could set yourself small goals to increase your activity in these areas. Perhaps you could go for a walk with a friend or in the park, look to eat more healthily or pamper yourself, anything that you find a positive experience. While these may see a huge effort at the start, using your supports from one above will help.
- Look to make new connections. Depression can be an isolating illness, which makes us want to withdraw; it is easy to withdraw from life. Research tells us that social interaction helps to improve how we feel, perhaps there is a group nearby: an art class or a yoga class where you can meet others. Again taking the first steps are often the hardest and it has the potential to make a difference.
Tackling depression alone is a hard task and getting help is the first step in the battle. Often people feel they should be able to cope and asking for help is weakness, yet if it were a broken leg or an ulcer they would have no problems in asking for help. Depression can be a serious illness, ask for help and get support, because you can recover.
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About Graeme Orr
Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.