Depression can feel like a dark, heavy cloud that cannot be lifted. We all experience moments of sadness throughout our lives. However, when this sadness persists, you lose interest in things that you use to enjoy, or it interferes with work, college, family or your social life; seeking support is beneficial.
Traits of depression
It is important to note that what one person may feel depressed about, may not create the same response in someone else. Everyone can experience depression in many ways physically*** and emotionally. Some characteristics of depression include (but not limited to)
– Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
– Every day or small tasks can feel like enormous tasks to attend to and may even be avoided
– Prolonged sadness or guilt
– Loss of interest in life and enjoyment of life
– Thoughts of harming yourself or of suicide
– Lack of energy, motivation and concentration
*** If you are experiencing these physical sensations, it is also important to visit your GP to carry out a physical examination or blood tests to rule out any other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.***
What can help
With depression/low mood, a lot of the time, we know the things that would help our mood e.g. getting out to talk to people, engage in our favourite activities, making changes. However, the motivation to do this can almost seem impossible to conjure up.
Talk about it: Although it can be difficult to share, speak to a trusted friend or family member about what you are experiencing. It’s more beneficial to speak to someone that you are going to feel validated and heard by as opposed to speaking to someone who may judge your experiences e.g. “You’re not that bad”. and want to offer solutions e.g. “Pull yourself together”.
Additionally, reaching out to someone outside of your close circle can offer non-biased support and an outsider’s perspective. Counsellors/therapists can help explore the root of your depression and what factors trigger and maintain it. Counsellors/therapists can help you to understand what’s going on around you, what support is there that can benefit you, what changes you can make in your life etc. They can also help find ways to develop realistic and achievable goals.
Take it day by day: No one wants to feel the prolonged sadness that depression can bring. Sometimes, that goal of feeling happy and not so sad seems miles away. Therefore, it’s important to achieve little steps and goals. For example, instead of setting the goal of running 5km this evening, set a goal of a 10 minute walk or jog and gradually build it up to your goal. Achieving smaller consistent accomplishments can create a better effect instead of that feeling of “I can’t do this” when you don’t achieve that mountain of a goal.
Stay connected: Being sociable can be extremely difficult when feeling low. Having time for yourself is important but repeatedly being isolated, can potentially make you feel worse in the long run. Referring to goals such as going for dinner with friends might seem too big of a step for you at present. Instead, it might be more useful to ring a friend to stay connected and can gradually work towards meeting in person.
Write it out: Sometimes we feel that if we think about our thoughts enough, we can process them and help ourselves to feel better. This rarely happens and often, it’s more beneficial to get our feelings out of our heads and bodies. By journaling, you can explore your experiences, thoughts and feelings possibly more freely compared to when you talk to others. Your journal is just for you and no one else. There is no right or wrong way to journal, it’s your personal experience. Generally, a pen and paper work best, but if typing is more comfortable for you, then type it out. You can make your journaling experience more soothing with perhaps your favourite music, a candle or a relaxed environment.