Difference between low mood and depression
In my previous posts, I wrote about stress, anxiety and panic. I focused on a couple of techniques we can practise to manage the symptoms – breathing exercises and journaling for mental health. Today, I will focus on depression, its symptoms and the pathways available for improving the quality of life of those suffering from the mental illness.
Many of us experience periods when we feel sad, lonely or unhappy in our life. This is considered fairly normal. We can’t be happy all day, every day of our lives, it is not realistic. External forces and situations bring along challenges and experiences that may not always be pleasant, and yet we have to go through them. We may go through waves of low mood, which can come and go after a few days or a couple of weeks.
It is when we feel persistently sad or unhappy for a longer period (a few weeks or months), that may be a concern for a depressive illness. People will experience depression during or after going through a difficult time in life, such as bereavement, stress, abuse or family problems. A depressive illness could run in a family or we could experience it for no reason at all.
Psychological symptoms of depression
Feelings and emotions linked with depression are:
- feelings of unhappiness
- feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
- feeling tearful for no reason
- feelings of guilt, anger, frustration
- being easily irritable and snappy
- not enjoying the things we used to love
- withdrawal from friends and family
- thoughts of death, sometimes
- feelings of anxiety and panic
Physical symptoms of depression
When we suffer from depression, not only we experience a turmoil of unsettling feelings and emotions, our body functioning changes too. We may experience the following symptoms:
- focus and concentration struggles
- feelings of constant tiredness
- various aches and pains
- changes in our appetite (not eating much or overeating)
- sleeping problems
- loss of sex drive
- drug and alcohol misuse to make us feel better and to ‘numb the pain’
Treatments for depression
People experience depression on different levels – mild, moderate, severe or in-between. In any case, if we experience symptoms of depression, we can speak to your GP about it first.
- Recognising that we need help is a great start.
- Reaching out for help is a step closer to healing.
- Actively taking part in various treatments is a step closer to recovery.
There are various ways we can manage depression. By using a mix of those, we may see the benefits and feel better mentally and physically sooner. Everyone takes a different amount of time to heal and we should not put ourselves under any time pressure when it comes to mental health. There is no deadline here. We must allow as much time as we need to look after our mental wellbeing.
Things you can do to manage depression:
- Speak to your GP about how you feel (you may be referred to therapy – CBT, Psychotherapy, Counselling, Group therapy,…)
- Read and educate yourself about depression (you may feel less overwhelmed once you know more about the mental illness)
- Take on antidepressants prescribed by your GP (they will help you balance your mood; change them if they do not work for you or you have unpleasant side effects)
- Use self-help resources
- Take on counselling privately – it will help you talk through your difficulties, identify problems and come up with your own solutions and coping mechanisms that will WORK FOR YOU. You will feel less alone and more supported during this tough time in your life. Private counsellors will have instantly more available slots – avoids long NHS waiting times.
- Exercise more, take up a new activity you enjoy (walking, running, swimming, yoga,….) – exercise and physical activity are proved to help ease depression, stress and anxiety
- Practise breathing exercises and mindfulness – they will make you feel calm
- Start a reflective journal – it is a brilliant way to offload, clear your mind and learn about yourself
- Improve your sleep – use apps such as Calm to listen to relaxing music or nature sounds to help you sleep better
- Eat a balanced diet – nutritious food gives you more energy and makes you feel better than unhealthy, fatty diet
- Speak with friends if you feel comfortable that they will understand
- Surround yourself with positive and supportive people
- Leave work at your workplace – avoid bringing it home physically and mentally
From my personal and professional experience, a combination of counselling/therapy and medications brings the most benefits and results when suffering from depression. Throwing in any of the other techniques will act as a brilliant companion and will bring about additional benefits crucial in your healing process.
If you feel that you need professional help with your mental health difficulties such as depression, in-person or online counselling can help. As a qualified, BACP registered person-centred counsellor I offer a safe and non-judgemental space where you can talk in confidence. Get in touch for a FREE initial chat to discuss your needs. Email firstname.lastname@example.org