Depression is very common but unfortunately not widely talked about, in fact Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, surpassing Cancer. Have you been feeling sad or down in the dumps, sometimes for no reason? Have you lost interest in things that previously brought you joy ? Have you been isolating, or experiencing a lack of motivation, or noticing relentless negative or pessimistic thinking?
Everyone experiences the blues, however the blues are not depression. It is normal to feel sad and ‘down in the dumps’ from time to time, especially in light of troubling life circumstances. Depression affects how you feel, how you think and how you behave, it creates a negative spiral and decreases your ability to function at work and at home. It’s important to know that Depression is a treatable medical condition and help is available, and the sooner support is accessed, the easier it is to treat. Below are some common signs of depression, if you agree with 5 or more of the statements, and have been experiencing them for more than 2 weeks, consider reaching out to me, counselling for Depression is one of my specialties: 604-888-9294 or email@example.com
Common signs of depression:
- I feel sad or down in the dumps, sometimes for no particular reason
- I feel helpless or hopeless
- I sleep more or less than usual
- I get angry or irritated much easier than usual
- I’m eating more or less than usual
- I’m having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- I’ve lost interest in activities I used to enjoy
- I’ve been avoiding other people or social situations
- I’m feeling unreasonably guilty
- I have a lot of unexplained stomach aches and/or headaches
- I’m feeling more tearful than usual
- I feel very tired, have low energy, or the opposite, I’m restless
- I have frequent thoughts of death, or that life is not worth living, or I have thought of suicide
“Depression is the most treatable of mental illnesses. Most people who suffer from depression are helped by the treatment they get, which usually includes medication and/or psychological counselling. Support from family, friends and self-help groups can also make a big difference.
Many people who are seriously depressed suffer too long before seeking treatment, they may not seek treatment at all. They may not realize that they have a treatable illness, or they may be concerned about getting help because of the negative attitudes held by society towards this type of illness.”Canadian Mental Health Association
One of the ways I work with Depression involves separating the person from the Problem – Depression is the Problem, you are not the Problem. ‘Externalizing’ the Problem this way helps identify and build awareness of the ‘voice’ of Depression, which helps to challenge it and resist it. The voice of Depression has 3 distinct qualities:
(1) It uses Absolutes – Always and Never – Depression is working to convince you that things can’t change, which contributes to a sense of hopelessness. This language sounds like “things will Never get better’ or ‘ You are Always going to feel miserable’. An antidote to this voice is remembering that very little in life is Always or Never, Black or White, there is lots of grey, and no one can predict the future, especially the voice of Depression.
(2) Its tone is Destructive and Unhelpful – Depression attacks your character, it capitalizes on your uncertainties, it is a harsh critic. This language sounds like ‘you are useless, why even bother’. Developing some compassion towards yourself is another antidote to depression – we are human, we make mistakes, most of us are doing the best we can This doesn’t mean we are useless, and one of the keys is learning from the mistakes.
(3) It is Isolating – Depression thrives on loneliness, isolation and hiding, it makes people want to withdraw. When we withdraw, we lose our perspective, we don’t have anyone to bounce our ideas around with, or to provide alternative points of view. Depression also capitalizes on your sense of being different, it tells you that no one else knows what this feels like, that no one else could understand. It also tells you you’re no fun to be around, you’d be a burden to others, you’ll bring them down – more ammunition Depression uses to keep you all to itself, and unchallenged. ‘Opposite Action’ is an antidote to Depression – doing the opposite of what it wants you to do. If Depression wants you to stay under the covers all day, try to do the opposite – getting yourself moving in the morning builds momentum, which creates a positive spiral – this changes how we think, which changes how we feel, which changes what we do.
Another way to identify the Voice of Depression: be on the lookout for the ‘Negative Triad‘: it involves a negative view of Oneself (I’m no good, I’m inadequate), the World (everything is difficult, my problems are insurmountable) and the Future (it will always be this way, things will never get better). We call these ‘cognitive distortions’, or a negative lens through which information is filtered by the depressed brain. Another antidote to Depression is developing more balanced thinking – or reasonable/realistic thinking. This involves generating a broader perspective, rather than seeing only the negative. Go ahead and acknowledge the negative AND generate alternatives, seek out additional information, find evidence against Depression’s assumptions, don’t just take Depression’s word for it.
Consider connecting with me if you’re noticing your thinking is being hijacked by Depression, Shannon @ 604-888-9294 or firstname.lastname@example.org