Depression is one of the most common mental health problems experienced in our society and can be significantly helped through counselling with a psychologist. Depression can be mild, moderate or severe enough to lead us to feel completely overwhelmed by activities we previously could easily manage. Depression can feel isolating for sufferers and make us feel negative about ourselves and others, and hopeless about ever overcoming this experience.
Depression is often the result of situational factors such as loss of a job/career, partner/significant other, social isolation, financial stress, or health problems to name a few. Depression resulting from life stressors essentially occurs when our external and internal stresses exceed our resources to cope; hence we can feel defeated by life events out of our control.
People can experience depression while also experiencing other mental health issues such as anxiety, eating disorders, and substance and impulse control disorders.
But there is good news… Depression usually does lift. Counselling by itself or with medication are key treatment options depending on the severity.
Counselling can assist with:
- Enhance understanding of and development of better coping strategies
- Deeper understanding of life patterns that may lead to repeated negative experiences including depression
- Identifying negative beliefs about self, others and the world; restructuring these thoughts and core beliefs
- Addressing traumatic past experiences that impact on the present
- Managing the events that lead to the depressed mood
- Strategies to improve social support networks
- Using meditative and relaxation techniques
Depression is different to periods of feeling sad which are a normal modulation of mood. Feeling sad is an appropriate response to a wide range of events we can experience in life. Sadness does not have the debilitating effect depression has on our functioning. It also doesn’t last as long.
The most common type of depression is called Major Depressive Disorder or Unipolar Depression. Sometimes also clinical depression. Major depression is characterised by pronounced low mood that lasts for 2 weeks or more and interferes with one’s ability to function at home or work.
All types of Depression affect a person’s thoughts, behaviours, emotions, and physical well-being.
Other signs of depressed mood include:
- Lack of motivation
- Reduced self-esteem or sense of self-worth and/or excessive guilt
- Poor concentration and memory
- Lack of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
- Difficulty managing once easy daily tasks
- Significant changes in sleep / insomnia
- Lack of sex drive
- Significant changes in appetite – either loss of appetite or excessive over eating
- Less ability to control emotions such as pessimism, anger, guilt, irritability and anxiety
- Pronounced mood swings throughout the day