Depression is common. Symptoms can affect day-to-day life and can become very distressing. Counselling can take time to work but has a good chance of success. Sometimes this may be in combination with anti-depressants prescribed by your GP. 

 

Despite depressions prevalence, many people don't admit to it. Some people feel there is a stigma attached, or that people will think they are weak. Great leaders such as Winston Churchill have suffered depression. Depression is one of the most common illnesses that GPs deal with. People with depression may be told by others to "pull their socks up" or "snap out of it". The truth is, they cannot, and such comments by others are very unhelpful.

Understanding that your symptoms are due to depression, and that it is common, may help you to accept that you are ill and need help. Some people ask "am I going mad?". It may be a relief to know that you are not going mad, and the symptoms that you have are common and have been shared by many other people.

You may 'bottle up' your symptoms from friends and relatives. Talking to a counsellor provides a safe space to start articulating how your feeling and finding a way to reconnect with your life, your family and your friends.

Find out more about depression.

Depression Counselling in Swindon

What is depression?

The word depressed is a common everyday word. People might say "I'm depressed" when in fact they mean "I'm fed up because I've had a row, or failed an exam, or lost my job", etc. These ups and downs of life are common and normal. Most people recover quite quickly. With true depression, you have a low mood and other symptoms each day for at least two weeks. Symptoms can also become severe enough to interfere with normal day-to-day activities.

Who gets depression?

About 2 in 3 adults have depression at some time in their life. Sometimes it is mild or lasts just a few weeks. However, an episode of depression serious enough to require treatment occurs in about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men at some point in their lives. Some people have two or more episodes of depression at various times in their life.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Many people know when they are depressed. However, some people do not realise when they are depressed. They may know that they are not right and are not functioning well, but don't know why. Some people think that they have a physical illness - for example, if they lose weight.

There is a set of symptoms that are associated with depression and help to clarify the diagnosis. These are:

Core (key) symptoms:

  • Persistent sadness or low mood. This may be with or without weepiness.

  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities, even for activities that you normally enjoy.

Other common symptoms:

  • Disturbed sleep compared with your usual pattern. This may be difficulty in getting off to sleep, or waking early and being unable to get back to sleep. Sometimes it is sleeping too much.

  • Change in appetite. This is often a poor appetite and weight loss. Sometimes the reverse happens with comfort eating and weight gain.

  • Fatigue (tiredness) or loss of energy.

  • Agitation or slowing of movements.

  • Poor concentration or indecisiveness. For example, you may find it difficult to read, work, etc. Even simple tasks can seem difficult.

  • Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt.

  • Recurrent thoughts of death. This is not usually a fear of death, more a preoccupation with death and dying. For some people despairing thoughts such as "life's not worth living" or "I don't care if I don't wake up" are common. Sometimes these thoughts progress into thoughts and even plans for suicide.

An episode of depression is usually diagnosed if you have at least five out of the above nine symptoms, with at least one of these a core symptom, and

  • Symptoms cause you distress or impair your normal functioning, such as affecting your work performance, and

  • Symptoms occur most of the time on most days and have lasted at least two weeks, and

  • The symptoms are not due to a medication side-effect, or due to drug or alcohol misuse, or to a physical condition such as an underactive thyroid gland.

Many people with depression say that their symptoms are often worse first thing each day. Also, with depression, it is common to develop physical symptoms such as headaches, palpitations, chest pains, and general aches. Some people consult a doctor at first because they have a physical symptom such as chest pains. They are concerned that they may have a physical problem such as a heart condition when it is actually due to depression. Depression is in fact quite a common cause of physical symptoms. But, the converse is also true. That is, people with serious physical conditions are more likely than average to develop depression.

Some people with severe depression also develop delusions and/or hallucinations. These are called psychotic symptoms. A delusion is a false belief that a person has, and most people from the same culture would agree that it is wrong. For example, a belief that people are plotting to kill you or that there is a conspiracy about you. Hallucination means hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling, or tasting something that is not real.

Severity of depression

The severity of depression can varies from person to person. Severity is generally divided as follows:

Severe depression - you would normally have most or all of the nine symptoms listed above. Also, symptoms markedly interfere with your normal functioning.

Moderate depression - you would normally have more than the five symptoms that are needed to make the diagnosis of depression. Also, symptoms will usually include both core symptoms. Also, the severity of symptoms or impairment of your functioning is between mild and severe.

Mild depression - you would normally have five of the symptoms listed above that are required to make the diagnosis of depression. However, you are not likely to have more than five or six of the symptoms. Also, your normal functioning is only mildly impaired.

Subthreshold depression - this is where you have less than the five symptoms needed to make a diagnosis of depression. So, it is not classed as depression. But, the symptoms you do have are troublesome and cause distress. If this situation persists for more than two years it is sometimes called dysthymia.

What causes depression?

 

The exact cause is not known. Anyone can develop depression. Some people are more prone to it, and it can develop for no apparent reason. You may have no particular problem or worry, but symptoms can develop quite suddenly. So, there may be some genetic factor involved that makes some people more prone to depression than others.

An episode of depression may also be triggered by a life event such as a relationship problem, bereavement, redundancy, illness, etc. In many people it is a mixture of the two. For example, the combination of a mild low mood with some life problem, such as work stress, may lead to a spiral down into depression.

Women tend to develop depression more often than men. Particularly common times for women to become depressed are after childbirth (postnatal depression) and the menopause.

A chemical imbalance in the brain might be a factor. This is not fully understood. However, an alteration in some chemicals in the brain is thought to be the reason why antidepressants work in treating depression.

Find out more at the Swindon Counselling & Advice Service.

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If you'd like to make an initial appointment or maybe just have a chat before getting started then do please call.

 
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Andrew Cornick - Counselling and Psychotherapy

Park House, Church Place,

SWINDON, SN1 5ED