People with depression can experience feelings of sadness, low self-esteem and hopelessness that are so intense they interfere with day-to-day living.
Depression is a common condition, affecting one in five people at some stage during their lifetime. It involves feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, hopelessness, weariness, sleeping problems and physical pains. Feeling low can be a normal response to upsetting or difficult experiences, and these feelings will usually pass. The majority of depressed people make a full recovery with appropriate treatment. It is important to visit a doctor to discuss symptoms. Medication may be suggested, or counselling or therapy. There may be local support groups available or online help.
Depressed people sometimes withdraw from others, and yet consider their increasing isolation as a sign of their own worthlessness, creating a vicious circle that absorbs them. There are several self-help strategies as well as professional support that can be used to make life happier:
Physical exercise. It is well known that when individuals exercise, endorphins are released into the body, creating positive feelings of well-being. There is also the satisfaction that comes from the results of feeling fitter.
Practical activities. Learning new things can lift the mood by giving a sense of diversion and achievement. Why not check out some courses now.
Keeping in touch. By contacting a friend or relative, individuals can engage with other people’s lives and acknowledge other perspectives.
Treats. Giving oneself a treat can often lift the mood. This should not mean spending money that one does not have, nor comfort-eating, binge-drinking and drug-taking, which can cause problems in the long term. Instead, people can consider visiting a favourite place, watching an uplifting film, or cooking a special meal.
Acting confidently. Occasionally, just acting as if one is happy and confident can have the effect of changing feelings, even though it may seem odd at first. Others will react more positively to the person who is good-humoured and upbeat.
Good sleeping, eating and self-care. Looking after general health can maximize the chances of feeling better soon and an integral part of self respect. It is difficult to feel good if sleep is disturbed or inadequate, or if the individual is having an unhealthy lifestyle.
Sometimes, it is difficult for people who feel depressed to take action. Perhaps there are difficulties in life that cannot be solved. But it is important to find ways of managing difficulties so that they do not totally overwhelm. Seeking help can be the first step to this.
There may be groups of people who have similar experiences; it can be helpful to know how others cope. Groups often organise complementary therapies, such as art therapy, music therapy or aromatherapy. Counselling can also be a practical help, focusing on feelings and difficulties.
Medical involvement is important because the physical symptoms of depression may resemble those of other conditions, and these need to be checked. Doctors can suggest a course of anti-depressant drugs. These need to be considered carefully before taking them, as they are not suitable for everyone with depression.
Depression can be a deeply distressing experience and it may be one of the largest challenges in an individual’s life. It can force people to consider themselves in depth and consider how to change things in life, possibly for the better.