What is depression?
Depression is a low mood that has an impact on your everyday life.
Yes, everyone has ups and downs however with depression the lows are long lasting.
In the UK alone, depression affects one in 10 people during their lifetime.1
J.K. Rowling spoke out about depression on Oprah in 2010: “I think I had tendencies towards depression from quite young. It became really acute when I was sort of twenty-five to twenty-eight was a dark time. It’s that absence of feeling… and it’s even the absence of hope that you can feel better. And it’s so difficult to describe to someone who’s never been there because it’s not sadness. Sadness is- I know sadness- sadness is not a bad thing. You know? To cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling… that really hollowed-out feeling. That’s what the Dementors are. And it was because of my daughter that I went and got help.”2
For me, depression is a dark hole that can be very difficult to escape from. It is a bleak mood. The hobbies that I used to love no longer to bring me joy and all I want to do is be in bed.
There are different types of depression including3:
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – depression that may occur during the winter season.
- Prenatal depression- depression that occurs during pregnancy
- Postnatal depression- occurs after becoming a parent and given birth.
- Dysthymia- mild depression that lasts for more than 2 years.
At one point, I tried my best to avoid being around people; I stopped going out, I stopped visiting my family and I totally isolated myself. Although this was my experience, everyone who has the disorder is affected differently.
What is depression caused by?
Like many other mental disorders, there is no single cause of depression however both biology and our environment can cause some individuals to be more susceptive to developing the disorder more than others.
Researchers conducting a study involving 800+ families and found that a chromosome was linked to recurrent severe depression.4 Although, research shows that 30-40% of the risk for both depression and anxiety is due to biology and 60-70% due to environmental factors.5
When I was feeling low, I used to drink several bottles of alcohol a week to try and boost my mood but that did not work at all! In fact, it was probably counterproductive, the buzz will last for a couple of hours (that is if I hadn’t blacked out because I was super drunk) and then I was feeling low the morning after.
Some of the symptoms of depression include…
- Irregular and/or change in sleeping pattern
Throughout university, I struggled to get a decent amount of sleep. I would get a few hours a night a most.
Let me break it down…
I would wake up super early (I’m talking 5am), go to the gym, go back home and take a nap (sometimes) then get ready for my lectures. Upon returning home, I would do my assignments, chill a bit and then go to the club and return home around before 4am.
There were some days when I went to the gym as soon as I got home from the club (I was crazy y’all) and yes, I was tipsy.
That was a wild time in my life.
When I wasn’t on my university campus, I would randomly wake up during the night.
It was super difficult to sleep straight through the night. I tried everything; camomile tea, I put lavender on my pillow case, I would read a book before going to bed…nothing would work.
I tried to reduce my use of electronics at least 30 minutes before going to sleep. It still didn’t work.
What didn’t help was that my bedtime was constantly changing.
As of now, my bedtime is not set as my shift patterns are all over the place.
Hopefully one day, I’ll have a decent bed time lol.
- Loss of interest in hobbies
I used to love going to weekly dance classes, I enjoyed doing drawing and I loved reading books. Around the age of 16, I stopped going to dance classes and I stopped taking part in activities that I used to love.
Not long ago did I realise that doing these activities was my way of let out my negative energy and get creative. I started to notice that my mood changed, and my friends noticed it too.
On my low days, my favourite phrase to is,” I can’t be bothered”. It took me hours to do tasks such as brushing my teeth as I was so exhausted. Some days I didn’t even shower as I was so tired…
And I didn’t even step a foot outside.
- Deceased energy
No matter how much sleep I get (which is usually less than 6 hours), I still feel incredibly tired. If I do not have any plans for the day, I usually fall asleep at some point during the day.
There have been many times I have fallen asleep at work. One time (not so long ago), I was literally falling asleep in front of my team leader AS SHE WAS TALKING TO ME. Thank goodness, she is super cool because I would have got a serious lecture about it.
I don’t want to have to rely on caffeine as an increased intake of caffeine is not good for anxiety **insert link to anxiety post** so as soon as I feel myself drifting off, I get up and get moving.
It is important to sustain a healthy, well balanced diet which is essential for our overall wellbeing. At times when I’m in a bad mood, my appetite will go down the drain.
I stopped cooking as I didn’t have the energy, I stopped eating dinner. There were times I would eat popcorn or cereal and call it my dinner, but I’ll eat dessert.
Which makes absolutely no sense.
- Poor concentration and difficulty making decisions
I am so friggin indecisive as it is, but I feel like depression heightens this. I would plan to go to the gym but getting there would be a hassle. Even though it’s a 2-minute drive. I would constantly try and talk myself out of it saying oh I’ll go tomorrow, just because I didn’t want to leave the house on that specific day.
That combined with poor concentration is annoying as hell. Imagine if people are talking to you and you are distracted as you’re in your own dream world.
I hate asking people to constantly repeat themselves because I wasn’t not paying attention to what they were saying. Hmm that’s probably why I sucked at my old job. I kept making a ton of mistakes…
I was there for only a 6-month period and I was on performance review for almost half the time I worked there.
There are times when you think the darkness will never go away. Never seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Never expecting anything good to come your way and never raising your hopes that way you are not too disappointed.
It can be a vicious cycle.
But you can get out of it.
And you will.
What are the different types of treatment available?
Talking to let things out is one useful way to deal with depression. At times, we feel that we must keep everything inside, but this will only make things worse.
Speaking to a trained professional is so super helpful. They will support you to help you identify the causes of your depression, your triggers and different techniques you can use to cope with your low moods.
Journallinnnngggg! It is so necessary. I can’t stress this enough. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your feelings, then write it out! Write down how your day went, what was positive, what was negative. You may even want to start a gratitude journal; write down what you are grateful for today.
Even if you feel low, sometimes its all about perspective. Even if you think it’s something small to be grateful for such as waking up, it’s something positive, right?
As stated in my anxiety blog post, medication is my last result. In contrast, medication may provide great relief to some individuals. It is important to weigh out the pros and cons of taking medication and to evaluate how it will impact your daily routine.
Antidepressants are widely popular for treating depression. They are said to increase the chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters which are linked to our mood.
Although antidepressants are fast acting than therapy, they do not address the CAUSE of depression, but they aim to treat the symptoms.6
In addition, there are several side effects of antidepressants including loss of appetite and dizziness. However, this may differ between people so please consult your GP if you would like to know more about the different types of medication available to you.
As for me….
I am constantly trying to take on a holistic approach (e.g. herbal remedies) in order to distract myself from low moods.
I have had brief meetings with counsellors and trained professions about the symptoms I am experiencing, and they have encouraged me to have a talk with my doctor. I always get nervous about talking to my GP about it; I always chicken out. ☹
Maybe one day I’ll find the courage to talk to my GP but as of now, I’m on a waiting list for long-term counselling which I am nervous but excited about.
I’ll see where that takes me.
I hope this brings some insight into depression.
If you find that you can relate to some of the information listed above, please contact your GP or speak to someone about how you are feeling.
What works for you? Leave it down in the comment section below!
Want to talk?
My email is always open.
Thanks for reading.