- What is depression?
- What is depression caused by?
- How to tell if you have depression
- How long can depression last?
- How to combat depression
- How to treat depression
- How to get help with depression
Get access to mental health support that fits around your life, and get the help you need at a time and place that suits you. Our ground-breaking online video therapy courses are the first of their kind to be used by the NHS, and for most people they’re the fastest way to access professional therapy. Why not start today? Take a look at our range of CBT-based video courses, each designed to address a specific mental health challenge.
Speak about what’s troubling you face-to-face with a qualified therapist – all in the comfort of a private setting. You can discuss your feelings, experiences and symptoms, while working towards feeling better together.
These sessions help you to learn and talk about your feelings in a confidential and private setting, with people who may feel a similar way. Each session is led by a qualified therapist who’ll help you to understand more about your problem and offer techniques to help you control and overcome it.
For those with busy family lives, mobility issues, or other barriers to getting out and about, we’re able to offer help via phone therapy. We will arrange calls between you and a qualified therapist so that you can access the help you need at a time and place that’s convenient for you.
If you’re unable to attend regular therapy in person, Therapy For You can set up video calls between you and a qualified therapist. During the sessions, you’ll be able to discuss issues that are causing you distress or making you feel uncomfortable. You’ll learn new techniques to help you overcome problems and help you to start feeling better.
Discover one-to-one therapy in the form of secure online chat sessions. Speak to a qualified therapist using a phone, tablet or other device, from wherever you feel comfortable. The therapy itself uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), an approach that’s been proven to be effective in treating a broad range of problems.
Depression is more than feeling sad or low.
We all experience feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, low self-esteem and worry in response to events in our lives. However, these usually lift after a few days or weeks at most. A low mood that persists longer than this can be a sign of clinical depression.
Clinical depression is a real illness with real symptoms – it is not something you can just “snap out of”. In its mildest form, long-term depression is general low spirits, that make it difficult for you to take a lot of joy or fulfilment out of experiences. In severe cases, depression can make you lose the will to live, making it a potentially life-threatening condition.
Dealing with depression can be a real struggle without the right support around you, and the longer it persists, the more difficult it is to break away from. There are several specific types of depression outside of a general feeling of sadness and low self-worth. These include:
If you are struggling to cope with any of the specific types listed above, it is important to seek help for depression from your loved ones, GP or another qualified professional as soon as possible.
Depression impacts people in different ways, so there is no hard and fast answer to what it feels like. For some, dealing with depression feels like battling an emptiness inside them, finding it almost impossible to be filled with happiness or positivity. For others depression is more visceral and painful, linking to other conditions such as high stress or anxiety.
Many incorrectly assume that depression presents itself through crying, frowning or wearing dark clothing. In fact, severe depression is typically a state of emotional numbness and exhaustion. Depression is very much a real illness, but it’s not always visible. What appears to be a brave or smiling face could be someone who has lost themselves to uncontrollable negative feelings.
If you would like to figure out more what depression feels like and if it relates to you, PSYCOM offers 10 slides of quotes from people living with depression on what it feels like to them. They could help you recognise if you are experiencing similar feelings.
There’s also an insightful video created by the World Health Organization entitled “I had a black dog, his name was depression”. This presents depression as a big black dog that follows us around wherever we go, making it challenging to find any enjoyment in life and our struggles to hide it from the world around us. Our therapists have used this to help those with severe depression understand the impact depression has on peoples’ lives.
In the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) study measuring national well-being (last published September 2018), approximately one in five people in the UK demonstrated evidence of having depression or anxiety. However, this number could be greater, as people don’t always make their feelings of depression known.
Globally, the WHO estimates that 300 million people are affected by depression, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide. Also, it noted that more women are affected by depression than men. Of course, everyone experiences depression differently, so it is important treatment is built around an individual’s specific feelings.
There is no single cause for depression, and where it stems from varies from person to person. For some the cause is a single traumatic event, others a combination of several reasons, and in certain cases there presents no clear reason at all.
Many refer to depression as a “downward spiral”, where one sad event leads to another, combining to turn a low mood into sustained depression. But, as mentioned previously, there doesn’t necessarily need to be a clear cause for depression. Some of the most common causes include:
As part of our courses for dealing with depression, determining the cause(s) of your depression is critical in developing techniques to manage feelings related to that source.
Like the causes, the symptoms of depression also vary from person to person. As a general rule, you would have a generally low mood, a feeling of hopelessness, and a lack of interest in the things that used to make you happy. It also depends on the severity of the depression – in milder cases, symptoms will be less frequent and impactful on everyday life, while severe depression can make it nearly impossible to do anything meaningful.
Below we’ve provided a list of common signs of depression, which may help you determine if you’re suffering with the condition. It’s unlikely you’ll have all these symptoms at one time.
If you notice you demonstrate some or many of these signs, it is recommended to speak to your GP or a qualified therapist to discuss your symptoms and receive help for your depression.
As depression can make you feel drained of all energy, it is a significant cause of day-to-day fatigue. Depression is also linked to other symptoms that result in tiredness, including sleep problems, restlessness, high stress levels and poor diet.
Depending on your lifestyle choices and whether you seek treatment or alternative support, depression can last for weeks, months, or even years at a time. Depressive episodes can be a reoccurring factor in a person’s life for several years, especially if they do not pursue self-help, therapy, medication or another form of professional support.
For some, depression isn’t something that doesn’t ever go away, but is something they learn to manage and cope with, whether it is through beneficial techniques, medication or speaking to someone. Living with depression is nothing to be ashamed of, and by taking the right approaches, it can be managed effectively to minimise the hold it has on your life.
At its worst, depression can make it impossible to find joy in anything that used to make you happy, and cause you to lose sense of what makes life worth living. If and when this happens, there are several things you can do to help manage the symptoms of depression, minimising the impact it has on your everyday routine.
Realistically, “combatting depression” is probably the wrong term to use here. Supressing or fighting the thoughts and emotions behind your depression can be unconstructive, and actually give them a stronger hold over your emotional well-being.
Of course, if you feel unable to cope with these negative feelings, or are struggling to understand the causes behind how you’re feeling, seeking therapy for depression is an effective solution. We will cover this more in the “How to treat depression” section. For now, we’ve listed five immediate steps you can take to try and lessen how much depression impacts your life:
Isolation leaves you alone with depressive thoughts, making it difficult to take your mind off them. Staying connected with your family and close friends helps with depression, and gives you someone to talk to when you’re at your lowest. You don’t necessarily need to talk about your feelings (although in most cases this does help), but just having a general conversation and interacting can help take your mind off your negative feelings.
Some lose their appetite completely when they are depressed, while others find comfort in eating. Both result in an unhealthy diet, which allows depression to survive and thrive. To help reduce the impact of these feelings, a balanced consistent diet is incredibly useful.
In particular, the following six foods are tipped to help improve symptoms of depression:
Please consult with your doctor or dietician about potential improvements to your diet that can have a positive impact on your mood.
Does exercise help with depression? Or is it just something people say?
Exercise can be an effective treatment in itself for depression. This is outlined by NICE (The National Institution for Health and Care Excellence) in their recommended treatments for mild and moderate depression. To prove effective, this exercise needs to be intense and regular, but with this dedication, exercise can prove as effective as medication.
Aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of activity a week in whatever form suits you and your lifestyle best. Outdoors or indoors, in a team or individually, establish a pattern that suits you and stick to it as best you can.
Improve Your Sleep
When people are coping with depression or generally feeling low, it is easy to fall into bad sleeping habits, most notably staying up late and sleeping during the day. If this is a struggle for you, try to pick the same time at night to get in bed and to wake up in the morning, as this routine will help you feel more energized during the day. In addition, avoid spending too much time in and around your bed – establish that it is there for sleep.
Face Your Fears
Feeling low or depressed can result in avoiding situations that cause feelings of anxiousness, such as social situations. If you notice this happening to you, facing up to these situations early ensures you avoid falling into repeated bad habits, and gives you a welcome sense of accomplishment at a difficult time.
Try the NHS’s tips on overcoming fears for more information to help you manage depression.
Dealing with depression alone is not easy, and might mean you don’t get that push towards specialist support from your loved ones. But, you might not feel comfortable speaking to someone yet about the problems you are facing.
Before seeking professional help with depression in the form of therapy or medication, you might want to attempt a few self-help techniques. If you are persistently feeling low and depressed, it’s important to engage external support as soon as possible. However, with mild or moderate depression, self-help tips can make a noticeable difference to your mood.
Establish a Routine
Our first self-help tip for depression is to work on establishing a routine. Not having regular patterns for eating, sleeping or doing important tasks can leave you feeling disorganised and stressed, which could cause further depression. By simply writing to-do lists or creating a weekly calendar, you make every day more manageable and set times for self-care and relaxation.
Keep a Mood Diary
Tracking how your mood changes and evolves over time can help you determine if your depression is getting better or worse, as well as at what times and in what situations you struggle most. Collecting this data helps you deal with depression by giving you guidance on your unique triggers, and a platform to start challenging unhelpful thoughts.
Read Books or Listen to Music
Depression can result in a noticeable drop in concentration levels. By devoting time to read or listening to music, you can improve your concentration through the words and sounds, as well as improve your mood.
Set Realistic Goals
Completing achievable goals on a regular basis can help you feel more accomplished and fulfilled, rather than focusing on negatives in your life. These don’t have to be huge tasks, it can be as straightforward as having a shower, calling a friend or cooking a meal. Reaching these small goals can give you little boosts of self-confidence and happiness, motivating you onto bigger challenges.
Be Kind to Yourself
Remember that nobody is perfect, and if you miss one of your goals or make a mistake, it isn’t the end of the world. Being kind and fair to yourself is at the heart of much self-help for depression. Treat yourself as you’d treat a friend, focus on things that help make you happy, and reward yourself when you do something positive (while avoiding beating yourself up if you don’t).
Join a Peer Group
When you’re dealing with depression alone, it can be an isolating experience. You might feel you’re the only person in the world that feels this down. Joining a peer support group introduces you to others that are going through similar issues, allowing you to share tips and stories to support how you manage your depression.
The support of loved ones can play a big role in a person’s recovery from depression. Just having someone understanding to talk to can do the world of good when dealing with depression. And, even if your friend, family member or other acquaintance does not want to discuss their problems yet, if you notice them displaying symptoms, there are ways to help them cope with depression without drawing attention to it.
Ways to help someone with depression
There are numerous different treatments for depression that can help manage your conditions. What treatment is best for you will depend on how severely symptoms are affecting you and your own personal preferences. But with a range of options available, you will almost certainly be able to find an effective treatment for your depression.
One of the most common and effective treatments for depression is therapy. This is where you speak to a doctor or qualified therapist about the various problems and feelings you have been experiencing in a secure, confidential environment. Our team at Therapy For You work with many people suffering from depression to different degrees, using therapy to develop techniques to face their problems and manage their mood.
Depression therapy can take several forms:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
CBT helps you overcome depression by approaching your thoughts and feelings and determine the effects they’re having on you. The main focus of these sessions is to change thought patterns and introduce methods to alter your thinking and behaviours for the better.
Computerised CBT (CCBT)
Rather than working one-on-one with a qualified therapist, this form of CBT for depression is completed with a computer.
Best for mild or short-term bouts of depression, counselling offers practical advice and support for steps to improve your condition and tackle the issues you are facing in your life. There are a number of different types of counselling therapies recommended for depression:
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal Therapy is an acute and a maintenance therapy, delivered over as few as eight sessions. It has psychodynamic origins, meaning the study of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, feelings, and emotions, but is explicitly biopsychosocial approach to treating depression. This considers the biological, psychological and social factors in causing depression. IPT is evidence-based and is recommended as a first-line intervention in the NICE guidance.
Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy (DIT)
Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy is a brief form of psychodynamic psychotherapy developed for the treatment of mood disorders, spread over around 16 sessions on average. This provides a safe space for people to talk about difficult past experiences that they may not remember consciously, but are causing the negative feelings associated with depression and other disorders.
Currently DIT will be rolled out within IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) services as the psychodynamic model to treat depression. While IAPT follows NICE guidelines, DIT itself isn’t part of NICE at this moment in time. However, it is currently undergoing evaluation to be included in the NICE guidelines.
Counselling for Depression
Counselling for depression is a manualised form of psychological therapy recommended by NICE to treat depression. It best fits for people that have minor depressive symptoms or mild/moderate chronic depression, offering support over 6-10 sessions across a period of 8-12 weeks.
This form of counselling targets the emotional problems behind a person’s depression as well as the internal thoughts that often maintain this mood (e.g. self-criticism). This helps patients approach and understand their underlying feelings and reflect on the new meanings that emerge.
These types of counselling are delivered appropriately by our trained team at Therapy For You.
Medication for Depression
Alongside therapy for depression, medication is another common treatment for this condition. Typically, medication for depression takes the form of antidepressants, which you might be offered separately or in conjunction with talking therapies.
If you’d like to learn about the different kinds of medication for depression, Mind has created an A-Z list of antidepressants that are licensed in the UK. Remember to consult with your GP about whether they feel medication is the right course of action for you.
Alternative Depression Treatments
While therapy and medication are the most common treatments for dealing with depression, should these prove ineffective, there are a number of lesser-used alternatives:
GPs will usually only prescribe these alternatives if your depression hasn’t responded to therapy or medication.
Specialist Depression Treatments
If neither talking therapies, medication nor alternatives help alleviate the symptoms of your depression, your GP might refer you to a mental health specialist, most likely a member of your community mental health team (CMHT) also known as Recovery and Wellbeing Teams.
The specialists you talk to may include:
These individuals will reassess your condition, speak to you about the causes of your depression and devise a treatment plan to manage your symptoms.
Your GP will be able to give you guidance on what treatment makes most sense to you and refer you to the relevant professionals. Or you will be able to discuss this with your therapist at the point of assessment.
Suicidal Thoughts & Self-Harm
If your feelings of depression have led to suicidal thoughts or self-harm, visit our crisis page or contact your GP for an emergency appointment, or contact several other organisations that can give you quick support and treatment.
Once you realise you are dealing with depression, it is important to seek help straight away. Often the earlier you seek support, the easier it is to prevent these feelings from becoming too severe and having a significant impact on your life and the lives of those around you.
Hopefully, this page has provided insight into the causes and symptoms of depression, as well as various tips and treatments that can help you overcome this condition. We all suffer from low mood and sadness in our lives, but if they sustain, they can prove life-altering and, in some cases, life-threatening.
At Therapy For You, our CBT and online psychoeducational courses have helped many suffering from depression and other mental health concerns in Essex. These can help you understand the unique causes and triggers behind your depression, and develop a personal plan of action to managing and reducing the impact this has on your happiness and overall well-being.
To find out more about our depression courses, get in touch to book a telephone assessment with one of our qualified therapists.