‘People are like stained glass windows
They sparkle and shine when the sun is out
But when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within’
Is your light burning brightly?
Or do you feel like it has been extinguished?
Depression is defined as a persistent low mood; a loss of interest in the things that we would normally find pleasurable. It can affect us on many levels, our moods, thoughts, behaviours and physical well-being. It can impact profoundly on our ability to function on a level that we would consider acceptable to live a well-balanced and fulfilling life.
Winston Churchill called it his: ‘Black Dog’. There are many famous people that have suffered with depression, both in the past and the present time. Being high profile these people often use the media to highlight the difficulties that they are experiencing; this can help to breakdown the stigma that is often associated with mental health.
Research shows that in the U.K, one in five adults suffer with depression. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide and the most common of all psychiatric disorders. Statistics show that depression affects 121 million people across the globe.
Depression costs the economy in the U.K £8.6bn a year; £3bn more than ten years ago. Stress and depression is a major cause of absence from the work place. The total cost to the NHS in resources such as: doctors appointments, therapeutic intervention, hospital admissions and outpatients is phenomenal.
Depression has no boundaries and affects men, women, and children. It has the potential to destroy a person’s well-being and quality of life; it is a debilitating illness which can be potentially life threatening and is the number one cause for suicide.
Depression can manifest itself in many different ways. Like a ‘Mirror’, the sufferer’s inner world reflecting their outer world. Loss of hope, difficulty in thinking clearly, concentrating or making decisions, feelings of low self worth, hopelessness, sorrow, sadness, emptiness, numbness, despair and recurrent thoughts of death or suicide can be part of the illness.
People suffering with depression often feel fatigued; sleep patterns are disrupted causing either insomnia, when a person experiences difficulty sleeping, or ‘shut-down’, when a person just wants to go to sleep to block out their negative thoughts and feelings.
Eating habits can change; the sufferer may overeat for comfort, or withdraw, eating very little, the depression impacting and manifesting its self on a physical level.
Life can feel bleak, leaving the sufferer with no desire to interact with the ‘outside world’ there are no ‘ribbons or bows’, and no ‘colour’. The world you live in feels ‘flat’ like a heart monitor that has been switched off, an inner world that feels emotionless and dead.
Depression is difficult to understand unless you have experienced it personally, because it is something we cannot physically see. If we had a broken arm the world would respond differently, with compassion and kindness. Often depressed people are met with a negative reaction such as; ‘pull yourself together’ ‘shake yourself up’ ‘snap out of it’ and worst still, the sufferer may find themselves being ‘cheered up’ by someone who feels that they know best. All of these responses are difficult for the depressed person to manage and can serve to reinforce negative feelings. This can isolate a person more as they struggle to wear ‘the mask’ for the sake of others, withdrawing and sinking deeper inside of themselves, feeling as though no one can reach them, disconnected from any joy or meaning in their life.
There are many different types of depression; often a family history can be traced back. Each person’s experience of depression is unique. Depression can be treated with medication and therapy, depending on individual circumstances. A severely depressed person may have a team of professionals supporting them such as: a Doctor, a Psychiatrist, a CPN (community psychiatric nurse) a Psychotherapist or Counsellor.
Reactive depression is often triggered by a life event such as; the loss of a loved one, the breakdown of a relationship, financial problems or illness. There are many other life stress-ors that can contribute to a depressive mood. Some prescribed medications can cause a low mood. Drug and alcohol abuse can also trigger a reaction.
Clinical /Major depressive disorder is characterised by a low mood, which lasts for two or more weeks. It can be mild, moderate or severe and the sufferer may experience episodes that last for a certain period of time. It can be connected to many different issues and sometimes a sufferer may not understand what is causing their low mood.
Manic Depression / Bi-polar – People who suffer with manic depression experience severe and extreme mood changes. These come in the form of extreme highs (mania) or extreme lows (depression) Once diagnosed Bi-polar can be treated and managed with ongoing medication.
Post-natal Depression – This can develop soon after giving birth. Around 10 to 15% of new mothers will experience post- natal depression. This can develop within the first year often 4/6 weeks after the birth. It can disable a new mother leaving her feeling unable to function and cope with a new baby. She may feel tearful, anxious, sad, guilty and exhausted.
There are many causes of post-natal depression including a change in hormone levels, difficulties giving birth , changes after childbirth and body image, tiredness and exhaustion.
The ‘Baby Blues‘ affects about half of all new mothers and passes within a short time. New mums feel tearful which can be due to factors such as hormonal changes and tiredness or exhaustion after giving birth.
‘SAD’ (Seasonal Affective Disorder) – Some people experience depression in the winter months, it is thought to be connected to the change in the intensity and the quality of daylight in the winter months. Treatment for ‘SAD’ can involve using a special light box. Sad affects up to a third of us and is a winter depression.
• Remember, you are the only one who can measure how you are feeling; be gentle with yourself, steering clear of harsh environments.
- The healing process takes time, so be patient and try to give yourself lots of ‘space’
- Draw on support from family and friends.
- Talk to your doctor and look at the options that may be available, such as medication and counselling to help you talk about your feelings and work through any issues that you may have.
- Try to have ‘lifeboats’ in place, something that you can look forward to.
- Try to do little things in your day, as it is the little things that can make the difference, such as: a walk, a nice meal or a little treat for yourself.
- Exercise can lift your mood; this can be gentle, such as a swim or more physical, such as a workout in the gym.
- If you feel really low, break things down, just one day at a time; take tiny little steps and try not to think too far ahead
How Can Counselling Help?
- Counselling can help you to tap into your thoughts and feelings, enabling you to have a deeper understanding of yourself, your experience, depth and core of depression; helping you to find your way forward, moving gently at your own pace, facilitating positive change.
- A safe place to talk openly and honestly, working through issues that are impacting on your life enabling you to manage anxious thoughts and feelings.
- Counselling can help you to work with specific feelings, or issues that you may not have been aware of previously, such as: negative thought processes and behaviour patterns that are worn out and no longer serving you.
- At Rutland House our therapists are highly trained and experienced in working with depression. We are able to offer many different theoretical approaches which allows you to choose, with guidance, how you would like to work with your therapist, in a safe, non-judgemental space where you can take off the ‘mask’ and be your real self.
Links And Resources
Self help, group meetings, support and information for people suffering with depression.
Support for new mums suffering with post-natal depression.