People often report to feeling depressed as the term has grown to include feeling down, sad, melancholy and so on. There is however a distinct difference between general feelings of sadness and the feelings when suffering from clinical depression. The main symptoms of clinical depression include sadness and low mood (with or without teariness), a loss of interest or pleasure in activities you normally enjoy, disturbed sleep, changes in appetite, tiredness (fatigue) or loss of energy, poor concentration or indecisiveness, feelings of worthlessness, excessive or inappropriate guilt, agitation or slowing of movements, irritation or mood swings, recurrent thoughts of death, in particular despairing thoughts such as “life isn’t worth living” or “it would be better for everyone if I were dead”. Depression is often a cause of physical symptoms too such as headaches, palpitations and chest pains and other general aches and pains. On the other hand, people who suffer from serious physical conditions are very susceptible to developing depression. Some people with severe depression develop delusions and/or hallucinations, these are called psychotic symptoms and usually require medical treatment to get the symptoms under control before any talking treatments can take place.
No one knows what causes depression and for each of us the cause or trigger to having depression will vary. Our personal experiences of depression are also unique and different than anyone else’s, though similarities of experience exist and sharing our experiences can help us to acknowledge how we are feeling and help us feel more normal, that depression is something that most people will go through at some point during their life time. Depression is often triggered by a life event such as bereavement, relationship problems, abuse, illness, pregnancy, redundancy, financial difficulties and many other other life events. Though it can also occur seemingly out of the blue.
If you are feeling more than five of the main symptoms of depression and they have persisted for more than two weeks, it is probable that you are suffering from a level of depression. It can take a lot of courage to talk to someone about it, but this can really help and may help you to decide whether you want to seek further help, either medical or psychological or both.
It is most important to remember that counselling is not a treatment done to you, a counsellor is there to work with you, to facilitate your own understanding of your thoughts, beliefs and behaviours, the aim of which is for you to move toward positive changes in order to decrease your symptoms.