What is Depression?
We often use the expression "I’m feeling depressed" when we’re feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually, these feelings pass after a time. But if these feelings interfere with your life and don’t go away after a few of weeks, or if they come back, over and over again, for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you’re depressed in the medical sense of the term. In its mildest form, depression can just be feeling low. While it doesn’t stop you leading your normal life, it makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, major depression (clinical depression) can be life-threatening, because it can make people suicidal or simply give up the will to live. Depression can affect people of all ages – adults, children, teenagers and the elderly.
Depression shows itself in many different ways. Typical symptoms can include:
- Losing interest in life
- Finding it harder to make decisions
- Not coping with things that used to be manageable
- Feeling tired and lacking energy
- Feeling restless and agitated
- Not eating properly and losing or putting on weight
- Difficulties getting to sleep/waking up early
- Crying a lot
- Being restless and agitated (note, people who are depressed are often anxious, though it’s not clear whether anxiety leads to depression or visa versa)
- Being irritable or impatient
- Being preoccupied with negative thoughts especially about the future
- Feeling numb, empty and despairing
- Self-harming (by cutting oneself, for example) and/or thinking of suicide.
What Causes Depression?
Although there is no one cause for depression, it varies from person to person and can occur through a combination of factors, such as:
- An unwelcome or traumatic event – being sacked, divorced, physically attacked, or raped – events that may lead to Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- A loss of some kind – the loss of a loved one, a major life change such as moving house, children leaving home
- Perinatal trauma, which can lead to PTSD and depression, which often gets diagnosed as Post-Natal depression
- An underactive thyroid – which can be treated successfully with appropriate medication from your GP.
How Swift Counselling can help you
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines on the treatment of depression (updated 2009) suggest that, for mild depression, antidepressants are not appropriate because the risk of side effects outweighs the benefits. Suggested treatments include short-term talking therapy such as Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Swift offers several approaches that can help including:
- CBT to break the hold that negative thinking, which characterizes depression, can have on a person
- Solution focussed brief therapy (SFBT) can be useful in helping to break down problems into manageable portions and to provide strategies for coping with them
- Appreciative enquiry (AI) can help develop a different perspective on life that can counter the negative thinking and feelings associated with depression.
For more severe cases of depression, NICE recommends combining psychotherapy with medication. Swift offers two forms of psychotherapy that are appropriate:
- Systemic/family therapy allows one to explore how past experiences, perhaps back as far as childhood, may contribute to current difficulties and suggest how these may be overcome
- EMDR which can bring healing to traumatic experiences, whether they occurred in childhood or later in life. These experiences usually include negative beliefs, such as helplessness or worthlessness, emotions such as shame or guilt, and negative physical sensations including panic attacks.
Counselling for Depression is a service available to patients at both our practices in Swindon and South/ mid Wales.
We aim to see clients within one week of them contacting us.
Understanding and dealing with Stress
The dominant view of stress is individualistic – it’s the person who is unable to cope with the pressures of life. Stress in the workplace is consequently perceived as the result of pressures that overwhelm the individual…
Stopping Unwanted Thoughts
You’re married or in a long-term committed relationship. You’ve woken up to the scary thought that the relationship isn’t going anywhere; or isn’t going in the direction you want it to go.