The experience of depression is unique to each individual. Some people describe their experience as a battle in their own head, others like its being stuck down a dark hole with no light, while some will describe an overwhelming sense of loss. Approximately 4% of Australians will experience a major depressive episode in any twelve month period.
Depression is a serious illness, not a harmless part of life. It is a complex set of disorders with a variety of causes. It may be the result of a mix of factors, including genetic, chemical, physical, and sociological. It is also influenced by behaviour patterns learned in the family and by cognitive (thought) distortions. Depression can have an impact on nearly every aspect of a person’s life, including one’s physical body, behaviour, thought processes, mood, ability to relate to others and general lifestyle. People who suffer from depression may experience despair and worthlessness, and this can have an enormous impact on both personal and professional relationships.
Individuals suffering from Depression may seek therapy for a number of reasons, including:
To alleviate the depressed mood and take more enjoyment out of life.
To develop the ability to recognise, accept and cope with feelings of depression.
To learn to identify negative thoughts and how to replace them with more balanced, helpful thoughts.
To learn coping skills, such as problem solving and emotional regulation.
To improve or increase number of social and family relationships.
To create a rich and meaningful life, while accepting the pain that inevitably goes with it.
Social Support: Think about what you need from others in relationships. Learn to read people and trust your instincts about which people are good for you. Talk to others about what is going on with you. If you keep your thoughts to yourself, you may be unaware that your thoughts are distorted. If you share them with another person, you can become more objective.
Exercise: A number of studies have found that exercise is a good way to help prevent or manage mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Research shows that keeping active can help lift mood, improve sleep, increase energy levels, help block negative thoughts and/or distract people from daily worries, increase opportunities to socialise, and generally increase wellbeing.
Relaxation: You can learn proven techniques for calming and relaxing yourself. Consider taking stress management classes or buying a set of relaxation CD’s.
Identify risk factors: Each of us has unique risk factors, such as things we are taught in our families of origin, values we have learned, and the presence or absence of a family history of depression. Anything that has been learned can be unlearned and replaced with something healthier.
Symptoms of Depression
People diagnosed with clinical depression have a combination of the following symptoms:
- Feelings of hopelessness;
- Fatigue or low energy;
- Less interest or pleasure in most regular activities;
- Low Self Esteem;
- Feeling Worthless;
- Excessive or inappropriate guilt;
- Reduced ability to think or concentrate;
- Distorted thoughts; unrealistic view of life;
- Weight loss or gain without dieting;
- Change in appetite;
- Change in sleeping pattern;
- Recurrent thoughts of death;
- Suicidal thoughts;
- A specific plan for committing suicide;
- A suicide attempt;
- Feelings of restlessness or being slowed down.
There are many different approaches to treating depression. These include:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Acceptance Commitment Therapy
- Interpersonal Therapy
- Psychodynamic Psychotherapy
- Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy
- Solution Focused Brief Therapy
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy