As someone who has experienced depression for many years, I decided to write this report in order to help other people who might be experiencing the unwanted companionship of depression.
Depression can be described as a faithful companion that never seems to be far from your side. There are times when you feel somewhat better for a period, but then suddenly out of the blue, your not so long lost friend creeps up on you when you least expected.
We can take consolation in the fact that a significant proportion of the population suffer from depression. Some people may not recognise or accept themselves as being depressed, as they battle on in self-denial, attempting to live as normal a life as possible.
Therefore I thought that a good starting point would be to try and help you decide whether or not you are depressed. The following checklist might help you:
- Do you suffer from a sleeping disorder?
- Is concentrating on your job difficult?
- Would people describe you as irritable?
- Is there a tendency for you to worry too much?
- Are you likely to get emotional or upset without much reason?
If you answered yes to most of these questions, then you might be suffering from depression.
Don't panic, because the good news is that depression can be treated.
Naturally, your first port of call would be your doctor or GP.
He or she may offer counseling (which in my case involved a session with a psychiatrist from the local authority mental health team) or he/she may prescribe medication.
The problem I found was accepting that you suffer from depression can be difficult, especially to your family and work colleagues.
A stigma exists with regards to mental health issues and when I mentioned that I was suffering from depression and panic attacks, with the intention of visiting my local authority's mental health team, they had visions of the dreaded 'men in white coats' coming to take me away.
Due to people's lack of knowledge and ignorance regarding this illness, it takes courage to stand up and accept that you need help.
Having accepted that I was suffering from depression, it was humiliating to visit the mental health unit and I had a genuine fear that I would become dependent on any medication.
Of course, everyone has feelings of up and down, but when you suffer from depression you are feeling down most of the time.
Without getting too technical, the experts say that depression is triggered by a chemical imbalance.
If messages are not being transmitted correctly to the brain, then depression occurs. Symptoms include the following:
- Constantly tired
- Extremely anxious
- Feeling sad and tearful
- Loss of sex drive
- Low self-esteem
- Changes in weight
- Agitation or retardation
- Problems concentrating
- Aches and pains
It is interesting to note that although I'm a male, women are more likely to suffer than men.
So the first step is to acknowledge the fact that you are suffering from depression and require help.
What causes depression?
First of all it should be noted that depression is a listed mental disorder. It is classified as a disorder, because it involves everything in a patient's body, mood and thoughts.
Depression affects people of all ages and it is estimated that clinical depression affects 15% of the population and up to 33% of women.
Depression can be caused by the following:
- Tragic events
- Other people's behaviour
- Your environment
- Irrecoverable losses
It is a fascinating thought, given that people ignorant to this illness will quite often consider the depressed to be crazy. However the truth is quite the opposite, since people suffering from depression are often too sensitive, where as the crazy person cannot feel anything.
So how does depression affect our lives?
In my case I began to notice that I wasn't able to cope with the pressures associated with my job, even though in the past I had managed to cope without much stress.
I noticed that I was far more irritable with colleagues at work and people in general. At home there was a tendency to show less patience towards my family members.
It became increasingly difficult to relax in the evenings and at the weekend, with the tendency to turn to alcohol as a way of escapism.
Experiencing a good night's sleep became a rare occurrence, twisting and turning reliving stressful events in my life.
Eventually I found it increasingly difficult to motivate myself to actually leave the house in order to go to work.
Socially, I would try and avoid people and stressful situations such as shopping, with a tendency to become reclusive, not wishing to leave my home.
In general it could be described as a loss of interest in life, without enjoying life and having worthwhile goals.