We live stressful and busy lives, and when major events occur that add to that load then we can go beyond where we are just feeling miserable and down, and that may only last a short time before we return to feeling more our usual selves. Or if it continues we may start to feel overwhelmed.
Feeling down or blue can be a normal response to events such as a relationship break up, losing a job, or having someone we are close to die. When those feelings become too intense or too prevalent and persistent then this could be depression.
According to the New Zealand Mental Health Survey released in September 2006, within the mood disorders, major depressive episode is the most prevalent disorder with an overall lifetime prevalence rate of 16.0%.
How do we know when we are experiencing depression?
Some key markers are: constantly feeling down or hopeless, and also having little interest in the things you used to enjoy.
You may also notice that you are irritable or angry a lot, feeling tired and lethargic a lot of the time, and generally feeling “out of sorts”. Some people sleep too much, others find it difficult to sleep. Usually there is a feeling of being alone in feeling the way you do, that you feel disconnected from others, lonely, and sometimes feel sort of “empty” with feelings of low self esteem. Concentration might be difficult.
Weight loss or weight gain might be happening, and sex drive may be affected. Some people think about death a lot and for some suicidal feelings may be present.
Depression and anxiety are often felt at the same time. It is hard not to worry when we are feeling so low. Anxiety can be quite strong, with heart palpitations, feelings of nausea, often with pain in the chest or stomach cramps. These feelings may be fleeting or present most of the time.
Anxiety may have a distinct focus- for example anxiety about future earthquakes. Or it may be a more generalised feeling that keeps a feeling of edginess present.
Since the earthquakes here in Christchurch many people are experiencing depression and often with anxiety symptoms. Free counselling may be available to help overcome the effects of the uncertainty and impact of the earthquakes.
What works to treat depression?
It is clear that counselling or talking therapy is effective in treating depression and anxiety. Talking with a therapist or counsellor helps to understand what is going on, and to develop some strategies to enable you to cope and work towards feeling better. Sometimes medication may be required in addition to counselling or therapy and a consultation with your GP can explore this possibility. This may also be suggested by your therapist or counsellor here at Talking Therapy as it is often useful to begin therapy and then consider medication at a later stage.
You can make an appointment for an assessment with one of our experienced therapists here (either email us or telephone us on 03 3548045), or you can be referred to Talking Therapy by your GP who may suggest counselling or therapy would be beneficial.