The word ‘depression’ causes much confusion.

It is often used to describe when someone is feeling ‘low’, ‘miserable’, ‘in a mood’ or having ‘got out of bed on the wrong side’. However, therapists use the word in two different ways, either to describe the symptom of a ‘low mood’, or to refer to it as a ‘depressive state’. This confusion is made all the worse because it is often difficult to tell the difference between feeling gloomy or feeling depressed.

Depression is very common. Almost anybody can develop depression; it is certainly NOT a sign of weakness.

Depression is also treatable. You may need to see a doctor, but there are things you can do yourself or things you can do to help somebody suffering from depression. What you cannot do is ‘pull yourself together’; no matter whether this is what you think you should be able to do, or what other people tell you to do. People who have experienced an episode of depression are at risk of developing another in the future. A small proportion may experience an episode of depression as part of a bipolar affective disorder (manic depression) that is characterised by episodes of both low and high moods.

Bipolar Affective Disorder (Manic Depression):

  • Episodes of depression, in which someone’s mood is abnormally low.
  • Episodes of mania or hypomania when the mood is abnormally elevated with heightened mental and often physical activity.
  • Periods of normal mood.

It is a serious condition but can be helped with the right treatment.

Symptoms of Depression:

Stress can lead to you to feeling ‘down’ and ‘miserable’. What is different about depression is that these feelings last for weeks or months, rather than days. In addition to feeling low most or all of the time, many other symptoms can occur in depression.

  • Feeling restless, tense, and anxious.
  • Being irritable.
  • Losing self-confidence.
  • Avoiding other people.
  • Finding it harder than usual to make decisions.
  • Feeling useless and inadequate, a waste of space.
  • Feeling guilty about who you are and what you have done
  • Feeling hopeless that nothing will make things better.
  • Thinking about suicide – this is very common.

If you feel this way, talk to somebody about it. If you think somebody else might be thinking this way, ask him/her about it.

Sometimes, when we are going through a ‘bad patch’ in our life, it is enough to talk through our problems with a friend or relative. However, this may not be enough and we may need to seek professional help. The important thing to remember about depression is that it is treatable.

There are many different types of treatment. These include medication and talking therapies (psychotherapy, counselling).

Psychotherapy and Counselling:

There are many different forms of psychotherapy and counselling.

Simply talking to somebody or your doctor about your problems is a form of psychotherapy and can help greatly. It is far better to talk about your problems than ‘bottling-up’ your emotions.

What to Do If You Are Depressed:

Talk to people about how you feel.
Do not bottle things up.

It is NOT a sign of weakness to get help for your problems.

Although you may not be able to do the things you normally would (such as work), try to keep active as much as you can.

Lying in bed or sitting thinking about your problems can make them seem worse. Taking physical exercise can also help depression and keep your mind off your worries.

Do not increase your alcohol (a depressant) intake to try and drown your sorrows or help you sleep better. Alcohol will only make the depression worse and harder to treat.

If you are having problems sleeping, try not to lie in bed thinking about your problems and anxieties. Do something to take your mind off your worries such as reading or listening to the radio. It is not you being weak, and you cannot simply ‘pull yourself together,.

Depression is treatable.

Remember, you are also not alone.

Dr Vasos can help with depression.