We’ve all heard the statistic that 1 in 4 people will suffer from anxiety and depression each year. Thanks to public campaigns such as Rethink Mental Health and Heads Together, we are now becoming more aware and open to talking about this very common mental health problem. Depression is a word used rather commonly in everyday language to describe feeling down or having a bad day or two – but clinical depression goes far deeper than this. We all have the odd bad day, but what happens when a bad day or two turns into weeks, months or years?
Below are just a few of the signs associated with depression – if you are concerned for the safety and welfare of yourself or somebody else, do seek professional help.
1: Mood Changes
Feeling low or tearful for long periods of time can be a warning sign to identify depression. This might be followed with feelings of emptiness, feeling hopeless, helpless and worthless. Sufferers of depression tend to have low self-esteem, can be overly judgemental of themselves and filled with feelings of guilt and shame. This can lead to increasingly becoming withdrawn from others, it can have a dramatic impact on relationships, social interactions and work commitments.
2. Sleep and appetite
We all need an appropriate amount of sleep to be able to cognitively function – once sleep pattern is significantly disturbed it can lead to lethargy, irritability and difficulty in concentrating. Difficulty in getting out of bed, lack of motivation and wanting to sleep the day away is also a common symptom. Significant changes in sleep pattern might also include difficulty in falling or staying asleep, accompanied by a combination of racing or worrying thoughts. Depression can affect the ability to speak properly and even simple everyday tasks begin to feel like a struggle and uphill battle.
3. Unhealthy coping
The internalisation of difficult feelings, low mood and apathy can lead to looking for external sources to self soothe and provide short-term relief from the intensity of negative feelings. This can result in a number of maladaptive behavioural patterns such as self-harm i.e. cutting, the use of alcohol, drugs, over eating or controlled eating. These short-term solutions may provide a sense of relief at the time, but this unhealthy way of coping leads to further isolation and feelings of guilt and shame.
Depression and anxiety are often interrelated, racing, worrying thoughts throughout the day and night can be extremely exhausting. The feeling of impending doom and constantly feeling on edge is both physically and mentally draining. A constant fear of danger disproportionate to reality can lead to further avoidance and isolation from others.
5. Physical symptoms
Unexplained physical symptoms can be caused by feelings of depression and unresolved trauma. This can include muscle aches and pains, an increase in headaches or migraines and nausea. Digestive problems with no identifiable cause or relief from treatments can also be a common symptom.
6. Suicidal thoughts
During depression, it is not uncommon to have suicidal thoughts, which can be alarming and extremely frightening. This is closely related to feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness. Suicidal thoughts may be fleeting where you have no intentional plans or they can become more persistent and dominant in everyday thinking. There are people who have persistent suicidal thoughts who do not act on these thoughts. However, it is important to take suicide ideation very seriously as it is possible to act on these feelings without much warning.
If you are concerned for your safety or the safety of somebody else, please seek professional help immediately.
For mild to moderate cases of depression the NHS recommend talking therapy such as counselling and psychotherapy, which can help you to talk through your feelings in a non-judgemental, confidential space. The aim is to help you to understand your problems and find better ways of coping with life difficulties. There is help out there and you do not have to go through this alone, seeking help is the first step towards recovery.
If the aforementioned applies to you, you think you might need some help and you live in and around the Hertfordshire area, get in touch to arrange a telephone consultation.
Links for further information on depression: