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Deeper reasons for depression

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Along with anxiety, depression is the most common mental health label that is given out by doctors and other mental health professionals. It is extremely common for women to be labelled as depressed and to be offered anti-depressants and is also a label that is given out to as many as one in five older people in the Uk. It can vary between people, some feel depressed for a day or two at a time whereas others feel it on a more ongoing basis. The latter is more likely to be given a diagnosis of clinical depression and can really interfere with day to day life

Typically, if you experience depression you will feel low in yourself, lethargic, tired, heavy and have a sense that  there is not much point to anything. You may well have lots of negative and attacking thoughts towards yourself or you may simply feel a sense of being in a black hole. Symptoms can vary and move between physical, emotional and mental. For a comprehensive list see the symptom list on the Mind booklet

What does depression mean?

Literally speaking, depression is the experience of something being depressed, which means squashed down. The depression acts as a coping strategy for whatever feelings or experiences have been judged as unacceptable or unsafe to express. As long as these feeling continue to be a threat in some way the depression will stay as an effective mask for them.

Experiences such as loss, abuse, bullying and divorce are all very common reasons that underlie depression. It is very usual for something specific to have triggered the first episode of depression and then if these feelings or experiences are not processed subsequent episodes of depression develop as other difficulties happen.

A feeling of loss can be experienced through someone significant dying or by having to let go in other ways such as changing schools, moving areas, friends moving away or relationship breaking down. It is also possible to develop depression in response to one phase of your life changing such as your children leaving home, the menopause or you reaching a certain age. Anything that signifies the ending of something can bring up deep feelings of fear of immortality and lack of control which can be hard to deal with.

Sometimes depression is called frozen anger. If something happened that left you feeling angry or helpless and you were not able to express those feelings they may have become stuck in your system and a feeling of depression may be sitting on top of them. This can be particularly true for people who have very self-attacking and critical thoughts as these are often signs of anger turned inwards.

deeper reasons for depression

Possible causes

Depression can also be caused by physical problems such as hormone problems, low blood sugar or conditions that affect the brain and nervous system. Lots of these condition can be diagnosed with blood tests which can be done at your GP’s surgery. Depression is also commonly listed as a side affect on medication such as beta blockers so it is always worth reading the patient information to help you make an informed decision about what you want to take.

As well as medication, other things that you put in your body can also cause changes in how depressed you feel. Alcohol is known to be a depressant along with certain street drugs that are opiate based such as heroin. A poor diet that lacks fresh fruit and vegetables and that is overly processed can also contribute to feelings of lethargy and sluggishness. Occasionally there are specific foods that bring about a low mood, so paying attention to how you feel after what you’ve eaten is a very positive step to take.

Make the changes

Making changes to reduce the symptoms of depression is something that is very possible and that can take time, effort and commitment. One of the hardest things about the experience is that the innate lethargy can itself be a block to putting positive things in place. If this is where you are at, the kindest thing that you can do for yourself is to accept it and if at all possible just let one person know that you would like to make changes but that it doesn’t’ feel possible right now.

If on the other hand you are feeling that you would like to make some changes to how you are thinking and feeling, the self-help treatment and support section in the Mind booklet  http://www.mind.org.uk/mental_health_a-z/7980_depression  has a lot of useful suggestions.

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About Jenny Smith

About Jenny Smith

Jenny Smith is a freelance writer and facilitator specialising in mental health, well-being and ecotherapy. She writes for National Mind and The Working Parent and facilitates training in the Work that Reconnects and Ecotherapy. She is inspired by nature, gardening, love and non-duality teachings

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