Depression - Seeing through the fog
We often find ourselves saying, “I feel depressed” when we are feeling low, or miserable about life. Depression in its various guises can find its way into our lives at any point. It lies heavy on our shoulders, makes simple tasks seem impossible, and at times we feel there is no way out. That is the power depression.
The feelings we experience during depression can fluctuate between mild and heavy. Depression can mean feeling in low spirit, lacking in energy or can cripple us completely, leaving us unable to function. This more extreme end of the spectrum is often known as clinical depression.
Listed below are some of the common feelings, thoughts and physical symptoms experienced during depression.
- feeling low for much or most of the day
- feeling dispirited
- lacking energy to go about day to day activities
- getting teary more easily
- finding yourself feeling impatient or irritable
- feeling alone or isolated
- experiencing feelings of detachment or unreality.
- difficulty remembering events
- unable to concentrate on things
- lacking the ability to make decisions
- experiencing high levels of guilt or shame
- having negative thoughts about yourself
- not seeing the point in things
- feeling that the future is bleak.
Some physical symptoms of depression
- having difficulty sleeping or getting out of bed
- feeling tired or lacking in physical energy
- lack of appetite and weight loss
- increased level of eating and weight gain
- increased intake of smoking tobacco or alcohol
- tired limbs, feeling achy, with no visible cause.
Why do we get depressed?
Depression is unique and personal to us all and can be caused by many different factors. Commonly though, depression is brought about through unexpected and unwanted life events such as being fired from a job, the ending of a relationship or friendship or becoming divorced. It can also be triggered by traumatic events such as rape or assault.
Bereavement is also a common cause of depression, and the strong bonds and relationships we form with friends and family means that when we lose someone, we are left feeling lost, detached from the world and in a place of deep sadness.
Other forms of loss such as moving into a different phase of your life - losing our youth, moving out of home, moving house or job - are also common trigger points for depression. When we ponder on what we have lost and ruminate on the life we used to have we can often become depressed and wish things to be back as they were.
Unresolved anger and feelings that occur due to experiences in your past where you were left feeling vulnerable, hurt or helpless can often contribute to feelings of sadness and depression in the present. If you were unable to speak about your feelings, or express your anger and sadness, then these feelings can often become internalised and later on can translate into depression.
What helps with depression?
The difficult realisation is that there are no instant solutions to the issues and problems you may be facing in your life. Working on understanding and solving your issues and difficulties takes time, energy and effort. Finding strength, energy and effort when you are depressed can feel like an impossible task at times, and our low feelings can seem undefeatable, large and immovable. However, the size of our depression is only as big as we allow it to be.
The negative loop
It can be very easy to find yourself trapped in a loop of negative thoughts that become so powerful that you are unable to challenge them. In this circular state of being, you can often end up more depressed, low and sad, and as a result become depressed about the fact you are depressed. In some instances, being in this state can be worse than the events which led you to be depressed in the first place.
So, how are you supposed to get out of this negative loop? Well, by making a conscious effort to break and change the hold that depression has over you and deciding to do something to help yourself is probably the most important step you can take. If we change our way of thinking, give time to our positive thoughts and cherish and nurture the good in our lives, we can begin to see that our depression can be diminished.
This of course takes immense courage. The power it takes to lift yourself out of depression should be not be diminished or devalued. Recognising patterns of negative thinking, attitudes and behaviours, and actively seeking ways to proactively find more constructive activities to occupy your time can help hugely in making you feel more in control of your depression.
How therapy can help
Beginning an exploration into our feelings of depression and sadness is incredibly powerful. The chance to tell our story and have our voices heard can allow us to lighten the heavy load that we carry through depression and begin to feel more able to manage our feelings. Therapy provides you with a space where you can gain clarity of thought and speak freely without judgement.
Therapy will not offer you a magic cure or instant fix to your difficulties and issues, but it can help you to see that there is light in times of darkness and that despite the varying levels of fog and lack of clarity we experience during depression, and the sadness and anxiety we feel, there are experiences to be cherished, and life to be enjoyed.
The process of therapy is a journey on which we will all change develop and grow as much emotionally as mentally. However much we change during this journey, and how hard it can seem, the effort and energies we expend are worth it, and the results are always worth embracing.