What is Depression?
Depression is an umbrella term to describe somebody’s mental wellbeing. Being depressed means that the individual has episodes of low moods that can cause them to have extreme and irrational thoughts. These thoughts usually last for a few weeks or months rather than a few days as everybody at some point in their life will experience episodes where they aren’t feeling as well as they normally are. What you need to keep in mind is that depression shouldn’t be something to be ashamed of. It isn’t a sign of weakness and should be something that you can talk openly and freely about.
Signs of Depression
There are different warning signs that you can look out for if you feel as if you may have depression. If you have four or more of the following signs of depression, get in contact with a health professional such as a psychiatrist or your GP to get diagnosed with depression and get the support that you need.
Feelings of Hopelessness and Pessimism
One sign of depression is feeling like you have nothing to be hopeful for and that no matter what you do, the situation at hand will always turn in the worst possible way.
Feelings of Worthlessness, Guilt and Helplessness
One sign of depression is feeling as if you mean nothing to the people around you and feel guilty because of it. This can put a person who is depressed into a state of helplessness as they may feel like there is nothing they can do or anybody else can do to improve the situation they are in.
Thoughts of Death or Suicide
One sign of depression is feeling as if death is the only escape for your current situation. People with depression who have these thoughts may result into self-harming. This is a coping mechanism for them to deal with the thoughts that they are having. If you would like to know more information about self-harming, click here.
One sign of depression is feeling of restlessness. This links into trouble sleeping or constantly worrying about certain situations
One sign of depression is having an irregular sleeping pattern. This can mean that you sleep for long periods of time, or that you cannot sleep and therefore only have short periods of sleep. This can be harmful to a person’s mental health.
One sign of depression is having a lack of energy. This can impact your day to day life as you may not have enough energy to perform tasks which other people do. For example, a person who has decreased energy may not be able to get dressed or shower, making them feel more isolated.
Changes in Mood
One sign of depression is having changes in mood and having contrasting thoughts on a day to day basis. A person with depression may experience that they have periods where they feel as if they can do anything and are constantly looking for new sources of happiness, and then they may get feelings of hopelessness and become pessimistic even though there are no evident changes to their environment.
One sign of depression is having trouble getting to sleep. This can result in not sleeping at all which puts a strain on the persons mental wellbeing and amplifies their other sign of depression such as having more mood changes.
Difficulty Making Decisions
One sign of depression is having trouble making decisions. This can be because the person who is experiencing this sign
Appetite or Weight Change
One sign of depression is changes to weight. This can be due to a lack of appetite or the individual finding comfort in eating to deal with the problems that they are facing.
Persistent Sad, Anxious or Empty Mood
One sign of depression is having persistent periods or feeling sad, anxious or feeling empty. When feeling sad or anxious, the individual may want to distance themselves from the people closest to them, resulting in that person feeling more isolated than they were previously.
One sign of depression is feeling as if you are going to cry or have been crying.
One sign of depression may include self-harming. This includes any harm a person does purposefully to their own body to inflict harm upon themselves.
If you are still unsure as to where or not you may have depression, visit the NHS website about depression which contains a self-test service you can use. This is NOT a diagnosis and shouldn’t be used as one. Always get in contact with a health professional for a diagnosis.
Treating depression does not have to include taking medication, although if advised to take them by a health professional, you should take them unless severe side affects occur. This should, however, be discussed with your GP.
For mild to moderate depression, health professionals may advice you to change certain aspects of your day to day life. For example, exercise more and attend group therapy sessions where you can talk about your feelings in front of a group. This tends to help people since expressing their feelings verbally may allow them to understand their feelings better, allowing them to feel better within themselves.
For moderate to severe depression, health professionals may ask for you to take a combination of different methods that can improve your mental health. This can include taking medication and changing your lifestyle. For severe depression, you may also be asked to see a specialist team for mental health that can better help you to get the treatment you require.
My Experience with Depression
My name is Jarred Woolley and I am a student at Boston College, and I helped to create this website with different people in my course.
Mental health issues have been surrounding my life for as long as I can remember. When I was very young, my Mum was diagnosed with bipolar type 1 disorder. Although since I was young at the time, I didn't understand what that meant. All I knew is that my happy, smiling Mum would have phases of not being so happy or smiley. She would sometimes lie in bed for days on end until one day, she spurted back into action like a Colonel ready for battle. When I got old enough to understand what mental illnesses are, she was always open with me about her state of mind and that it was okay to have these thoughts if you reach out and speak about them. I learnt how to help my Mum during her not so bright days, and I feel as if everybody should know the signs and symptoms of mental health issues to be able to help those who are closest to them.
Whilst growing up, during secondary school, I started to experience a decline in my mental health. My mood would change from day to day and I struggled to attend school. Each day that past by it got harder and harder to return to school as I kept on thinking about every little detail. "What would my friends think about me if they knew I was struggling?" "What are they saying about me whilst I’m not there?" "They probably hate me." "They would just forget about me". I would think whilst lying on my bed, not showering for weeks. I kept on thinking these things until eventually, I believed them. The longer you stay in that state of mind, the harder it is to get help and so if you find yourself in a similar situation to what I was, please get in touch with somebody. You can either do this online so that you don't have to physically see the person you are talking to, or you can reach out to friends or family for their help.
Luckily for me, my Mum and Sister noticed my change in behaviour, and because my Mum was dealing with her own mental health issues, she knew immediately that I was not okay. It took a while, but she was persistent and got me to talk to her, and it was the best decision I have made so far. I won't lie, it was hard to talk. I kept all of these thoughts and feelings inside of my head for so long, constantly bottling up anything I saw, wearing a mask to make others perceive that I was fine and so when it came time to talk, I didn't know how to verbalise my thoughts. It took a while to talk to her, but once I did, I felt better. She helped me get the help I needed and know I have come to terms with the thoughts I have.
I am still in the process of improving my mental health but, I have completed the first step and I am on my journey to recovery. Being involved with the creation of this website was a chance for me to let people know about how passionate I am about mental health issues and to help those who need it by providing different materials they can use.