Depression

Depression can happen to anyone and can affect people of all ages. It can arrive suddenly due to an illness, a separation, becoming unemployed, while bereaving, from experiences dating back to childhood, or from other life-changing events. Every one of us will experience sadness. Depression is extreme sadness or despair that can interfere with your daily activities and can cause physical pain. It is not a sign of weakness and something we can snap out of and fortunately, it is highly treatable and people can feel better. Living with a person who is depressed is also difficult for the sufferer, friends, colleagues and their family.


With depression, people will lose interest, pleasure will be difficult and they will have feelings of guilt or low self-worth. Changes in how your brain functions can influence your body and your feelings may be accompanied by disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, poor concentration and is quite different to feeling sad or down. Certain physical illnesses or conditions can worsen with depression, while some illnesses will trigger depression and can affect the immune system making it harder for your body to fight infection. Regular exercise, a reduction in caffeine and no alcohol is best for the person with depression.


People with low self-esteem and who view themselves and the world with pessimism are prone to depression. People who are overwhelmed by stress can be depressed and it is important to know that a person can receive effective treatment without understanding its specific causes. It is best to firstly identify that you are in fact depressed and then to figure out what may be affecting how you feel and what things are most likely triggering your depression.


Symptoms of Depression

  • Aches and pains

  • A sadness that doesn’t go away

  • Avoiding people, including your close friends

  • Difficulty concentrating, making decisions or remembering

  • Difficulties in getting off to sleep, waking up much earlier

  • Emptiness

  • Feeling anxious all the time

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness

  • Finding it difficult to function at school, college or work

  • Loss of appetite

  • Loss of energy

  • Loss of self-confidence and self-esteem

  • Loss of sex drive and/or sexual problems

  • Restlessness

  • Self-harming

  • Thinking about suicide and death

  • Tiredness

  • Unable to enjoy things that are usually interesting and/or pleasurable

  • Very strong feelings of guilt or worthlessness


Types of Depression

Mild depression

Depression is described as mild when it has a limited negative effect on your daily life. For example, you may have difficulty concentrating at work or motivating yourself to do the things you normally enjoy.


Major depression

Major depression interferes with an individual’s daily life, with sleeping, eating and other daily activities. Some people may experience only one episode but it is more common to experience several episodes in a lifetime. If the person is so unwell that they are at risk of harm to themselves and may lead to hospital admission


Bi-polar disorder

Bipolar disorder, originally called Manic Depression is characterised by episodes of very low mood or depression and/or high mood or mania. Mood swings in bi-polar disorder can be extreme, from lows, where the person may experience complete despair, to highs where the person feels extremely elated and indestructible, to lethargy and suicidal feelings. There may be a loss of interest in food, work and sex. Sometimes people have very severe symptoms where they cannot make sense of their world and do things that seem illogical or odd.


Persistent depressive disorder 

Dysthymia, is a persistent mild depression mood lasts for at least two years and can lead to recurring major depression. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms.


Post-natal depression

Post-natal depression is experienced by some mothers after they have had a baby. It usually develops in the first four to six weeks after childbirth and in some cases, it may not develop for several months. This is frequently referred to ‘baby blues’ and the feelings of anxiety and a lack of confidence are most distressing and usually last for a few weeks. Post-Natal depression is far more intense, can last significantly longer and leave the mother feeling overwhelmed, inadequate and unable to cope with at times, negative feelings towards their child. This may interfere with the mother’s sleeping and lead to panic attacks or an intense fear of dying.


Psychotic depression 

This depression is a is a subtype of major depression, is complex and includes delusions, hallucinations or paranoia. The symptoms of psychosis are usually self-critical and negative and include agitation, anxiety, constipation, delusions, hallucinations, hypochondria, insomnia, Intellectual impairment and physical immobility. Psychotic depression occurs in depression or bipolar disorder, and the symptoms are more likely to occur in people with severe depression.


Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons that is associated with the start of winter and can referred to as ‘winter blues’. SAD usually lasts until spring, when the days get longer and brighter. The symptoms start in the autumn and continue into the winter months, sapping the person’s energy and making them feel anxious, moody, stressed and depressed and may interfere with a person’s eating and sleeping. Less frequently, SAD can cause depression in the spring or early summer.


Therapy

Psychotherapy is often the first form of treatment recommended for depression. The safe, confidential one-to-one sessions in therapy address the thinking patterns that precipitate the client’s depression, and studies have shown that it prevents recurrence. 

 

Gene Barry Psychotherapist

© Gene Barry