This month I’m tackling the topic of depression.  Depression is often described as the ‘common cold’ of mental health problems and chances are you or someone you know has struggled with depression within the last year.

One of my pet hates is people using the word ‘depression’ lightly – we all have bad days and experience sadness from time to time, this is a natural part of life.  

Depression though is a different beast altogether.  Not only does depression affect your mood, it also affects how you think, your physical health and your behaviour.  Here is a checklist of symptoms for you to consider:

  1. Less interest or pleasure in your usual activities.
  2. Feeling down, depressed or hopeless.
  3. Changes in your sleep – perhaps not being able to sleep, struggling to stay asleep or sleeping more than usual.
  4. Feeling tired or having less energy than usual.
  5. Changes to your appetite – perhaps not being very hungry or perhaps wanting to eat more than usual.
  6. Having lots of self-critical thoughts about yourself.
  7. Struggling to concentrate on things such as reading, watching TV, or doing tasks at work.
  8. Changes to your general movement – perhaps being very fidgety and restless or perhaps being slowed down.
  9. Thinking that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way – I can’t emphasise just how serious this is, people can die because of depression.

With all of this going on it’s not surprising that people with depression often struggle to engage in their normal day to day life.  

Depression can stop us from seeing friends and family, going out the house, doing our normal hobbies, going to work, looking after ourselves properly etc. etc. etc.

So, what can we do about depression?

Whilst depression is very serious and debilitating it doesn’t have to define or destroy you.  A full recovery is absolutely possible and there are lots of treatments and self-help materials out there.  The treatment I swear by is cognitive behavioural therapy, it’s endorsed by NICE guidelines and I’ve seen it transform peoples lives.  In this treatment you can begin to understand what led to the change in your mood, what’s stopping you from moving on and step by step start rebuilding your life and heading in the direction you want to be going in.