“I’m so depressed”, or “That’s so depressing” is something we have all heard thrown around in conversation. But is that really what depression is? Feeling down, upset, or unhappy for a day or two is not the same as having depression. Depression is something that can have a huge impact on some peoples’ lives and some people live with it for a long period of time, sometimes over and over again throughout their whole life. In this post, I will explain what depression actually is and what some ways are that you might be able to help yourself get through it, or how to find professional help.
Who might get depression and why?
Depression is something that could affect anyone, of any age, from any walk of life, however certain events or situations may make some more likely to feel depressed than others. Some examples might include the loss of a loved one, illness, loneliness, or job and money worries, although there are many more reasons amongst these.
What does depression feel like?
Depression can feel different for everyone. Typically, someone living with depression will have a low mood that lasts for weeks or months. Depression isn’t the same as having a few days where you feel unhappy, or sad. People who are depressed often experience more than just a low mood – they may experience many other symptoms, such as:
· Feeling like they don’t have the energy to keep themselves clean, such as showering or brushing their teeth.
· They may not feel like socializing anymore and end up isolating themselves from family or friends.
· Having a lack of appetite, not feeling as hungry as they usually would, or at all.
· Not enjoying their favorite activities as much as they used to, or at all.
Depression can feel like a heavy, grey cloud hanging over you, making everything feel like a lot of effort and getting little or no enjoyment out of it.
What can I do if I think I might be depressed?
The good news is depression can get better on its’ own – not everyone has to seek professional help, although this is always an option if you feel you need it. Here I will go through a few self-help techniques which may provide some relief from those difficult feelings of depression.
· The first is exercise. Now, this is something that sounds stereotypical and is something that you may not feel like doing if you are feeling unwell. However, getting out for just 15 minutes for a gentle walk may help you relieve some of your symptoms.
· Next is a healthy diet. Again, this can be difficult when depression can leave us feeling like eating junk curling up in a ball. However, getting some healthy food into our system can help to release some of those ‘feel-good chemicals and give us the energy we need to combat those difficult feelings we get from depression.
· Another tip is to try and get yourself into a routine. Waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day, having a schedule for your mealtimes, and exercise all contribute to helping us feel like we have achieved something in the day and boost those positive feelings.
These are just a few small changes that everyone can try to make which may help reduce those depressive symptoms. More help can be found online, particularly on the NHS.uk website or on mental health charity sites such as mind.org.uk. If you find yourself struggling to cope, reaching out to your GP may be beneficial for you. Or you can refer yourself to your local IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) team for professional support.
This post is not to be used for self-diagnosis and if you are concerned about your mental health, you should always contact your GP or another suitable professional.