The Statistics and what it is
Depression will affect 1 in 3 of us within our life time and this blog will attempt to not only try and describe what some of its symptoms are but also try to offer tools to free ourselves from what can be a claustrophobically paralysing condition. This blog aims to make clear how depression becomes us and then consumes us.
Depression is when we experience something that makes us so unhappy that rather than face up to the feelings associated with the sadness we block it out. So what we tell our selves is, I do not want to feel. It might sound like a pretty good built in tool to have, however this has its own side effects. What this does is, when something good is happening we can’t feel the emotions associated with the good event either. This is because we have internally instructed our bodies not to feel emotions.
I think often people don’t actually fully understand what is going on themselves when they feel depressed. Making a decision to change is often far from the ideology in mind because we are unaware of why we feel the way we do. We may even brush off ideas that we are depressed because of the associations with mental illness and the stigma attached to it.
It can happen to any of us
I would like to take this opportunity to release any feelings of stigma and own that there has been times in my life when I have been depressed! So low that the thought of watching a film appeared to be too much effort!
I think today’s depression looks different because even at times of suffering the need to drive on and do the day to day things we are responsible for has to still be there. It is for these reasons we need to discover outlets for our own well-being.
Why does it happen?
Today demands a lot of us, social acceptance, financial pressure, complexed relationships, and long working hours to name a few of the things that can make us feel low and depressed. Of course there may be more obvious things such as losing a loved one the break-up of a relationship.
We can try and fix ourselves be over eating which makes us put on excess weight, which makes us look at our body image in a negative light. This can serve to become another symptom in the depressiveness. We now have a body to be unhappy about in light of the depression in the first place. It is worth acknowledging our appetite can do the opposite and make us not want to eat at all and then the opposite body image can happen. It can alter our alcohol or drug consumption in search of feelings of happiness or relaxation from the anxiety. We may do other things such as gamble, self-harm, search for promiscuous sex or shop excessively in order to feel better about ourselves. All of which will carry its own negative backlash if done to excess.
Depression changes the way we think, because we are feeling low we are consumed with further thoughts of lowness and un-optimistic thinking takes over. Thoughts such as “I will never be happy again” or “what’s the point of doing something positive it won’t change anything.” Therefore we look outwardly for things that may spark our pleasure principle in an attempt to try and feel, it is an attempt to find happiness or an escape from feeling low. It won’t work however because happiness really is an inside job. See below for an example of how it can often be for someone who is depressed.
Can it get any worse?
After a period of living with negativity, the dark hole we fall into gets deeper and gloomier. Things look worse as the days go by. It feels like nothing will ever be better again. As a person who has experienced life in this way at times I think it is worth noting here that things do get better. As humans we are resilient and always strive towards improving our own lives.
Things can change incredibly quickly, what can help in these situations is finding the thing that prevents you from slipping into the dark whole in the first place. Me personally I make sure I get enough physical exercise this keeps my chemical balance in my brain in check. However I appreciate this may not be everyone’s personal fix.
How can I help myself?
Finding our thing we do creatively can be a reminder to us that we are not just the thing that makes us unhappy. Talking therapies can be a good way to feel better about ourselves, my own experience in therapy often served as a relief being able to discuss my thoughts and feelings in a non-judgemental way.
Depression is amongst us all, the statistic knocking around within the media at the moment are 1 in 4 of us will suffer with depression this year. My own experience of this soul destroying condition is just that soul destroying. As a collective we need to stand firm together start caring more for the people we see in the street smile at passers-by like they are the mother that brought us into the world. Hold the door for the person behind us, not be afraid to spark conversation with somebody in the queue because for me, depression and low mood feels a bigger problem when we look at how disconnected we are as human beings to one another.
Connection to other human beings is right up there at the top of the best defence techniques against depression so reach out and connect with other humans.
Some suggestions about how we can prevent the symptoms of depression
- Eat healthily and regularly.
There is much literature out there to suggest that if we eat foods that are not good for us then this can change our mood. I agree with this statement and if I compare times I have eaten clean to times I have not my mood is definitely something I can identify as changing. Eating regularly is also an important factor, look how Mr T gets without his snickers or Jeremy Clarkson got when his producers didn’t sort his dinner out. When we get hungry we get cranky and that changes our mood significantly.
- Drink your 2 litres of Water a day
So many people I come across fail to do this simple vital task. If we become 2 percent dehydrated our brain function becomes 30 percent less efficient. Water is responsible for making hormones travel round your body without being hydrated enough this process does not happen as efficiently as it should. Really if you are not having your 2 litres a day make that the most important thing you do from this list.
- Healthy relationships
A strong belief I hold is healthy relationships are a defence against mental illness. I almost want to say put down your phone, sign out of your Facebook and go and talk to somebody in person. (Unless this really is your own way of interacting with others) Take time out of your busy schedule to spend time with people, have dinner go to the cinema, go for a walk, whatever.
- Exercise regularly
Now I don’t want to be patronising but we have a chemical in our brain called dopamine, this is the chemical that is released when people take drugs. It makes our mood happy however the process takes some activating. When I say exercise I don’t mean go run on a tread mill for an hour, the pain you would get in your knees after that might make you grumpy! Of course if that is your bag I take my hat off to you, a 30 minute walk a day can be enough to fire your dopamine receptors efficiently. If your schedule is busy, clear some time, the chances are you won’t feel like exercise but I challenge you to do the exercise any way and ask yourself how you feel after.
- Hold your boundaries and say No!
Don’t feel like you have to do something. If you are feeling overwhelmed with a busy schedule and people are asking you to do things you can’t do or are going to be pushed to do say no. There is something quite liberating about unhooking yourself from the responsibility of keeping everyone happy at the cost of your own happiness. You are not being mean or unfair you are looking after yourself. Remember no one can best stand up for you better than you. Believe it or not people feel better about people that can hold their own boundaries.
The purpose of this blog is to offer some advice to those who suffer with low mood and depression. If however if you feel like you would like more support you can find out more about me and the services I offer at
Thank you for reading, please comment and share as you see appropriate, all support is appreciated.