Feeling depressed, sad, empty, numb.

Depression affects millions of people. How to recognise it's tim e to seek help with depression?Depression affects millions of people each year with varying degrees of severity. Some people may experience it for a period of a few weeks, whilst for others, it may be a lifelong disorder that resurfaces seemingly without warning. No two people are ever the same, and so the causes of depression do tend to vary.

Sources of depression

There can be an element of genetic inheritance, with some studies suggesting that people who have family members with a history of depression will be more likely to suffer with it themselves. Depression has also been linked with long term alcohol and drug use, bad dietary habits, stress and illness.

Recognising depression

There are many symptoms associated with depression, and so if you have ever said to yourself ‘I am depressed’ you might like to see if any of the following apply to you.

The symptoms of depression can be: anxiety, low self-esteem, low confidence loss of energy, loss of libido, weight loss (although in some cases weight gain), thoughts of self harming or suicide, loss of interest in the world around you, general hopelessness and helplessness.

Seeking help

If you believe some of the above symptoms apply to you, and that they have for some time, it is important to seek some help. This can be a hard thing to do for many people suffering from depression, as a lack of motivation combined with the thought that no one can help, prevents some people from seeking help in the first place. However, depression is NOT a taboo subject nowadays, and there are many support networks that can be of assistance. Importantly, the sooner that you begin treatment, the sooner that you will begin to feel better.

Many people choose to visit their local doctor as the first port of call when seeking assistance, although there are also other options available. These include psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors (both public and private) and social workers. There are also numerous charity organisations, private clinics and self-help groups.

You are not alone in feeling depressed

As you can see, there is a huge support network out there for people that say to themselves ‘I am depressed’, remember, you are not alone!

Depression is treatable, and most commonly uses a combination of therapy of some description, sometimes combined with anti-depressant drugs. If you are prescribed anti-depressants, it is important to follow the course correctly, and if therapy has been suggested, again it is important to proceed with it. Most depression is treatable, especially if help is sought at the early stages.

As well as seeking professional assistance, there are also ways that you can help yourself combat the effects of depression. One of these is to become more active and exercise. It can be difficult at first, especially if you are feeling a complete lack of energy, but the effects of exercise have many benefits. It helps to improve self-esteem by becoming fitter and stronger, and keeps the mind occupied. Start exercising lightly at first, even if it is simply taking a long walk every day.

Another way that you can help yourself is to be realistic with your goals, and set small ‘to do lists’. There is no point in setting a massive ‘to do list’ of daily tasks numbering twenty or more, when half of them will not get done. Limit any list to five items. You will achieve these and feel more positive in the process.

Whilst you are undergoing treatment, it is also advisable to delay any major, potentially life changing decisions. These include getting engaged or married, moving in with someone, changing jobs or moving house. It is important that these things are always done for the right reasons.

Many people I see in my practice have reported to use alcohol and drugs heavily whilst experiencing depression. This is in no way beneficial or helpful as it can make any initial diagnosis difficult, and can reinforce negative behaviours and thoughts. Cannabis use is especially bad in this regard, as its over use can lead to paranoia and other mental issues. As a general rule of thumb, the avoidance of all alcohol and drugs is the best course of action.

It is a big step to both admit to yourself and to say to someone else ‘I am depressed’. However, once this has been done, the path to recovery can begin. Seek the professional services of a counsellor or therapist trained in this area, and once more, remember that you are not alone, and that help is available.

Talking with a warm and empathic Counsellor can be very useful for someone who suffers from depression. I am a Counsellor and I offer Counselling in London Waterloo and Counselling in London King’s Cross, both location just 5 min from Central London.

You can contact me to ask me any question regarding feeling depressed or to arrange an introductory counselling session in London Waterloo or King’s Cross. I will always reply to email enquiries within 24h.

Images on Creative Commons licence courtesy of Toni Birrer

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