Depression is something we all experience. Depression becomes an illness when it is severe enough to interfere with normal functioning and does not improve with time.
Patterns of typical reactions following trauma:
- Disbelief. Initial response of shock, numbness and disbelief which is usually short lived and followed by preoccupation.
- Preoccupation. Longing for what you have lost or suffered fills your mind.
- Denial. Acting as if nothing had occurred.
- Anger and Guilt. Intense emotions which usually settle around 4 to 6 weeks.
- Acceptance. Coming to terms with the event.
- Depression. Initially intense and sometimes lasting for up to 13 months. If you remain depressed and unable to get on with life it could indicate unresolved issues and the onset of depressive illness.
Symptoms of depressive illness:
- Impossible to feel happiness and joy in anything.
- Loss of interest in job, entertainment, sport and other activities.
- Change of appetite resulting in weight gain or loss.
- Sleep problems such as too little or to much sleep.
- Physically slowed or agitated all the time.
- Always tired.
- Feeling worthless or guilty.
- Problems concentrating and making decisions.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
Myths about depressive illness:
- The sufferer can “pull himself together”. This type of belief places additional guilt upon the sufferer who infact needs help and support.
- Depression means you are weak minded. Depression is an illness just like diabetes and needs to be treated in a medical way. A depressed person is as mentally competent as anyone else.
- There is no visible problem, therefore there isn’t a problem. We do not always know what causes depression but the pain is very real.
- Someone has “caused” the depression. No one is to blame for the illness, neither the patient nor the family.
How you can help yourself:
- Self-esteem. Building self-esteem is the most important thing you can do to achieve good mental health. Five ways of learning how to do so:
- Be honest with yourself and others. Guilt feelings eat away at your self-esteem.
- Procrastination erodes self-esteem. Don’t put things of if you can do them straight away.
- Know who you are and what you believe. Self-esteem is dependent upon having a belief system and behaving according to those beliefs.
- Realise you are as valuable as anyone else. Give yourself constructive and not destructive criticism when necessary.
- Be a positive thinker. Adopt a positive view of the world and make positive comments about it.
- Stress. Too much negative stress plays a part in the development of depression. Ten ways of reducing negative stress:
- Solve problems as they arise.
- Be confident in saying “no’ to others.
- Take time out for yourself during each day.
- Give yourself time to relax each day.
- Reward yourself and others by praising when appropriate.
- Exercise daily, it is vital for your physical and mental well-being.
- Eat regular normal meals with your family.
- Keep a regular sleep pattern and sleep for around 6-8 hours.
- Keep a check on your smoking and alcohol consumption.
- Maintain prescribed medication regime.