“I’m so depressed” and “It’s making me feel really depressed” are sentences I hear thrown around a lot. We often use the term ‘depression’ to explain sadness, feeling fed up or dissatisfied with something in our day to day lives. In my experience as a CBT Therapist I’ve found that often the people experiencing depression are the last ones to use the words and are often the most reluctant to talk about how they’re feeling openly with a passing person on the street.
What is depression? There are many symptoms that are associated with depression such as low motivation, sadness, a loss of pleasure or interest, agitation, tiredness, poor concentration, disturbed sleep and a change in appetite. These are the symptoms you’ll find if you Google “Depression”, however there are some symptoms not so well documented.
These include a complete numbing of everything. Feeling numb to pleasure, happiness, sadness, and everything in-between. When we feel depressed we can lose interest in all activities, people and ourselves. Getting out of bed in a morning can be a personal battle and every day can be lived waiting for the moment when we go back to bed and sleep, because then we don’t have to think. Depression can feel like an uncontrollable battle of wills within our thoughts; fighting between negativity and self-loathing, irritability and hopelessness.
Depression isn’t always a reduction in motivation; sometimes we become so agitated and unable to relax we don’t stop, constantly on the go and being busy to distract ourselves from the thoughts within our head. Even getting out of the door can be like the Battle of Waterloo, and some days you may not win the battle.
When your mood is low you may lose all interest in sex or being intimate or even close to your partner. This can often lead to relationship difficulties and feeling guilty which further perpetuates your self-critical thoughts and can sometimes result in people doing things they don’t want to do.
Everybody experiences depression in a different way; someone may experience one of these symptoms, another may experience all. No one person’s experience is more valid than another. The intensity of your symptoms may change on a day to day or minute to minute basis. This doesn’t mean you’re making it up or should just ‘cheer up’ – it’s the nature of depression.
Depression robs us of two of our basic skills – problem solving and organisational skills. It makes it hard to think clearly and concentrate on anything for any length of time. Problems seem overwhelming and impossible to solve, and because our confidence is already low we feel that we can’t cope with many of life’s situations.
Statistics show that 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year; mixed anxiety and depression is the most prevalent disorder. The chances are, however, if you feel low, you’ll feel as if you’re the only person experiencing what you are. Depression is a very lonely place.
Depression can be treated. Things can change. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the recommended treatment option by NICE guidance (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and I have worked with countless people in gaining back their health, wellbeing and happiness following depression. For more information about how CBT helps depression check out my blog “CBT and Depression” or the websites mentioned. There is hope that you can feel better and regain what you’ve lost; you just might not be able to see it yet.
Royal College of Psychiatry