Sadness is an accepted part of life. Our mood is always susceptible to the occasional dip, especially as our environments change or present emotional challenges. If, however, a state of low emotion continues beyond a few weeks, then it might be a sign that you are experiencing a deeper mental health issue, such as depression.
Depression is debilitating. It becomes a fundamental part of a person’s outlook, beyond responses to environmental and emotional provocation, changing their entire outlook on the world. Some of those suffering from depression describe it as cynicism or apathy, comparing it to an all-consuming and inescapable gloom that can transform previously simple tasks into insurmountable challenges.
Due to depression’s slow and, occasionally, subtle development, it can be difficult for a person or their family and friends to identify any issues. And, as a person’s life becomes shaped by the affliction, the symptoms may disguise themselves as part of their personality.
Depression’s many symptoms include:
Fatigue – a general feeling of exhaustion and energy depletion
Restlessness – an inability to feel calm or relaxed
Disinterest – a lack of motivation for social activities and hobbies
Agitation – a short temper, outbursts of anger, or easily triggered nerves
Recklessness – often manifesting as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, or gambling addiction
Hopelessness – a sense of being overwhelmed without opportunity for improvement
Pain – dull aches and stiffness, even headaches and stomach pains
There are many ways that these symptoms can appear within a daily routine too. For example, a sleep schedule can gradually or drastically change, and a person might find themselves sleeping fewer hours or experiencing a lower quality of sleep. In such circumstances, it is easy to mistake aforementioned symptoms, like fatigue and agitation, as being a byproduct of poor sleep instead of, as they truly are, symptomatic of an underlying mental imbalance. In some cases, depression can even trigger insomnia.
A person’s physique may also change during depression, leading to weight fluxations or either loss or gain. Others may experience a change in diet and appetite, wanting to eat far less or more than they have previously experienced.
In addition to these effects, depression can lead to cases of self-harm and suicide. A person suffering from depression may not always show these intentions directly but they can be suggested by their language or actions, such as those that might allude to dying.
To further complicate a potential diagnosis, there are no clearly defined contexts for depression to occur. A person might have a home, job, and family, suggestive of their success, and yet still find themselves unable to escape a sense of hopelessness.
As we, as a society, experience the effects of a pandemic and lockdown, many of us are made more increasingly susceptible to depression. Both anxiety and isolation may trigger and exacerbate mental ill-health, two factors that many have experienced since the beginning of the year. It is expected that around half a million people more will experience mental health issues as we leave lockdown.
While it can be helpful to seek support from your friends and family, it is often essential that a person finds professional help from a qualified and experienced therapist. Only with the right emotional tools and guidance can a person begin to recover their wellbeing.
If you would like to begin counselling in Bristol, I am available for initial assessments that may be arranged via phone or email. For further information regarding my services and support, please visit the Bristol Counselling and Psychotherapy website.