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Depression symptoms, information and help to get better

There are many forms of depression, which can have a negative effect on; moods and emotions, thinking patterns and how a person views life as a whole, physical fitness and energy levels, the ability to concentrate and/or sleep and interest in sex. At the lower end of the scale, it could describe a period of being in low spirits, which could impact on the quality of things that people do, but wouldn’t affect the day to day activities that they carry out. At the other end of the scale, depression can affect a sufferer in a much more adverse way – stopping the normal functioning in life and sometimes the loss of life if the person gives up on their struggle completely.

Symptoms of depression
Psychological symptoms:
• Depressed mood, which incorporates feeling low, sad, guilty or numb
• Increased anxiety and worry about things that may not have caused anxiety in the past
• Low self esteem
• Crying and sadness
• Persistent negative thoughts. This can be distracting and the lack of concentration it causes can affect a person’s memory, which in turn can lead to frustration.
• Increased anger and feeling irritable, perhaps with an increased intolerance of others
• Confusion and inability to decide and be clear about goals
• Decreased enjoyment of activities or lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed
• A reduced sex drive
• The inability to enjoy or take part in activities and confusion about life can lead to self-criticism where a person can believe that they are worthless, inadequate, bad, useless, and disliked
• A sense of hopelessness can prevail in severe cases where there is a strong belief that there is no hope of being happy again and no point in carrying on. The person can lose any desire to help themselves and this can lead to consideration of suicide or even suicide itself.
• Psychosis (loss of reality, delusions, hallucinations, feeling of running on automatic) can occur if the stress and anxiety gets too much.

Physical symptoms:
• A loss of energy is common, with the person feeling tired very often
• Eating patterns can be affected, with the person either eating much more or less than usual
• IBS and constipation can occur, as the stress levels affect the gut and bowel.
• General fitness is reduced, and aches and pains are very common
• The menstrual cycle can be affected
• Lack of sleep – either difficulty getting to sleep or waking up very early – this will also affect the person’s energy levels and can turn into insomnia
• Loss of interest in sex

Social symptoms:
• All these negative symptoms can affect a person’s abilities and concentration at work
• They might withdraw from social activities and friends, due to irritability, lack of motivation and inability to concentrate.
• They may stop taking part in previous past times
• They may have difficulties in relationships with family, friends and work colleagues

What can affect the chances of getting depression?
• Possibly an underactive thyroid – a person with an underactive thyroid has a slower metabolic rates than others, which can cause lethargy, weight gain and depression
• Some recreational drugs can influence the chances of depression
• Physical illness, low fitness levels and poor diet can all promote depression
• Losing a parent when young
• A person who has very low self esteem
• A single mother who does not have much support
• A person with a repetitive cycle of negative life experiences (divorce, moving house or job, loss of earnings etc)
• Long periods of unemployment
• Those who live in cities
• Abusive or neglectful childhoods
• A person who do not have a supportive network
• Unresolved mourning of the death or loss of someone close
• Major life changes such as changing jobs, divorce etc
• Loss of job or status
The list is endless really, and sometimes a depressive episode is short lived; other times the depression stays with someone all their lives.
Depression can form a vicious circle, whereby a person can feel even more depressed about having depression in the first place. Negative thoughts about the inner depression and the outside world can get out of control, and the depressive symptoms can get more severe as time goes on if the cycle is not stopped. The initial cause of the depression can get lost in the process, as the depression wreaks havoc on one’s life.

Thought processes that can occur
Black and white thinking – everything is black or white, with no grey areas; good or bad with no in between or mix. If a person fails an exam, they may think they are useless, which is not true; they just failed one exam. Someone does something the person doesn’t like and they think ‘They;re a horrible person’ when there is no proof of this.

Generalising – when something is wrong, a person might think that EVERYTHING is wrong, when it is not the truth. A negative thought is carried over into many other areas and positive things can be thought of as negatives. Looking on the dark side of everything and jumping to conclusions.

Living by rules – Making unrealistic rules and expectations about life and how a person ‘should’ be can lead to disappointment, guilt and a feeling of failure. ‘Should’ve’ and ‘could’ve’ are negative expectations about the past, whereas ‘can’ and ‘will’ are positive thoughts about the future.

Catastrophising – When an event occurs, the person might see if for far more than it is; how bad or how awful. In this case, the prediction of failure or real disaster are over estimated.

Some other types of depression are:
Bipolar Disorder (previously named manic depression) — This disorder is defined by a cyclical change of mood from mania (severe highs and excitability) and depression (low mood).

Psychotic depression — When depression is very severe, it can lead to delusions and possibly hallucinations (psychosis). Psychosis can also occur when someone has tried to dissociate from an upsetting event. Trying to forget about an event, but not dealing with it can cause psychosis to occur.

Post-natal depression – Depression, which occurs between 2 weeks and up to a year after giving birth.

SAD (seasonal affective disorder) — Usually linked to the winter, this depression occurs with lack of sunlight. The person will wish to sleep more and eat more carbohydrates.

Treatments for depression
Getting over depression can take some time and needs commitment, strength and energy to overcome the symptoms. Working on negative thoughts is very important, as depression is like a computer virus in a way – it feeds itself and multiplies. By that, I mean that a negative thought can lead to a negative action and behaviour. The outcome from the negative behaviour and action can lead to more negative thoughts about oneself or the world around us. This can soon go on and on and spiral into a deep depression. The worse one gets, the deeper into depression they get. It is hard, at times, to find the positive thoughts and actions in oneself, but you have to really want to change your life and feel better and imagine a happier life in the future, to keep you going.

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