Depression is a serious illness which my clients are often ashamed about. They feel there is a stigma attached to depression. This means they become secretive about it, ashamed and embarrassed that it is affecting them. Some even find that their partner will be too embarrassed to talk about their depression to their friends. Additionally, if a depressed person does talk about their depression they are often faced with remarks like ‘what you to be depressed about?’ or ‘Are you still talking about that?’
The stigma over mental health involves people being dismissive of depression. If someone comes out of hospital with a broken leg, it would appear everyone is keen to help. They can see the illness and want to help. However, if someone is depressed through, for example, work stress, there is little sympathy or time given for that depressed person.
So what is depression?
Depression is much deeper than sadness and it can affect both your mood and how you feel throughout the day. There are different types of depression. These are often distinguished by their prevalent features, duration and severity of symptoms. There is clinical depression, Dysthymic Disorder and manic depression (bi-polar depression). I will focus on clinical depression.
Often my clients come to me and ask ‘do you think I am depressed’. They do not recognise the signs of depression or are confused to why they feel so low. Below are the most common signs of depression. If you experience four or more of these symptoms then it is advisable to that you talk to your Doctor or seek professional help.
- Losing interest in your normal, daily activities. This can be simple as not wanting to go to work or meeting or keeping the house clean.
- People who are depressed often focus on small things which are inconsequential. These problems disturb them greatly as they are often unable to see the big picture.
- Inability to have fun. You will find that you cannot enjoy yourself or experience fun and if you do, you will soon be back in a poor frame of mind.
- The inability to get to sleep or stay asleep is often caused by spending the night by worrying. Insomnia then leads to irritability during the day.
- Feeling of sadness. This is being overwhelmed with sadness and the inability to be happy. Slowly this feeling takes control of all of your daily activities.
- People who are depressed often overeat as they comfort themselves with ice cream or fast food. Eating temporarily makes people feel better.
- If people don’t overeat, they will often experience a loss of appetite. This may be from feeling anxious or nauseous. This can often lead to into a destructive eating habit, such as anorexia, to give them a feeling that they can control the world.
- Getting angry. People who are depressed often get angry for no reason. They don’t understand what is happening to their mind and may feel helpless. This can manifest in angry outbursts at inappropriate times and to people who do not deserve it.
- Expressing episodes of anger and irritability. You will find that you will find faults in things that often make you unhappy.
- Unable to concentrate and being easily distracted. You find that no activity holds your concentration and you find that it is easier to watch the television or surf the internet than do the task at hand.
- Feeling worthlessness and feeling like no one loves you. You can feel as though you contribute nothing to society and that people do not like you. This in turn can lead to destructive thoughts.
- Feelings of guilt. You feel guilty for being depressed and think you are a burden on everyone. Additionally you can blame yourself for someone else’s negative actions towards you.
- Having trouble thinking straight. Depression can cause you to stop thinking clearly and your thoughts can be clouded or confusing.
- Being tearful and find you are crying for no reason. Something you see on television can trigger crying or you just start crying from no direct cause, but your own sadness.
- Thoughts of suicide. Your self destructive thoughts can often become extreme and you feel there is no way out. If you are feeling suicidal contact Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 who can offer immediate telephone support.
- Physical side of depression where you experience physical pain brought on your emotional pain. You find you may get sick more often and generally feel run down. You may experience headaches, migraines or feel muscle pain and stiffness.
Do any of the symptoms sound familiar to you? Are you fed up with the stigma attached to depression?
The next blog post will show you small coping strategies for dealing with depression.