The Absence of Joy and Zest ...
Feeling sad and down is an unavoidable part of the human experience at some point over a lifetime. However, if these feelings frequently reoccur, accompanied by a sense of apathy, despair, lethargy, or numbness, you may be experiencing depression.
So, What Is Depression Exactly?
Depression is a psychological state characterised by an absence of joy and zest, originating from major stress or past setbacks in life. Over time depression can influence the brain to misfire crucial neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) and stress hormones, resulting in physical symptoms and inhibited ability to feel pleasure.
Depression is more than “feeling down” for a few days; it is not something to just “snap out of.” It is an ordeal that commonly saps energy, motivation, self-esteem, and hope.
Symptoms Of Depression
- Low mood. Feeling sad, empty, or hopeless.
- Overly negative thinking patterns. Fixating on past setbacks and the negatives of situations.
- Loss of self-esteem. Thoughts of worthlessness, guilt, and self-blame.
- Poor concentration. Difficulty in watching an episode of your favourite show.
- Loss of enjoyment. Lack of interest and motivation in activities you used to enjoy, such as sex, socialising, hobbies, or sports.
- Social withdrawal. Spending less time with friends and family.
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much.
- Fatigue and lack of energy make even routine tasks overwhelming to complete.
- Weight loss or weight gain.
- Slowed thinking, speaking, or body movements.
- Difficulties with focus, memory, and decision-making.
- Suicidal thoughts. Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death and suicide.
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain, body aches, or headaches.
Major Stress That Can Cause Depression
Research has revealed that continued pressures and stress can trigger the emotional part of the brain called the “limbic system” to go into negative overdrive, adversely impacting the ability to feel joy and zest.
Major stress sources which can develop depression include:
- Career and academic pressures.
- Lack of hope for the future due to difficulties such as finding employment or bleak prospects.
- Grief; loss of a key relationship.
- Any form of abuse and bullying.
- Growing up in a disadvantaged background.
- Loss of identity.
- Misuse of alcohol and drugs.
- Major issues with image such as the body or peer perception.
- Family breakdown.
- Medical or hormonal issues such as chronic diseases, hyperthyroidism, and postnatal changes.
- Family history of mental health issues.
- Feeling disconnected from others.
- Increased use of technology such as social media.
- Reduced resilience due to overprotection by well-intentioned parents.
- Loss of belief due to adverse or disappointing events.
Depression Treatment Options Without Medication
Therapy tries to shape a person’s thinking and behaviour to reduce depression. This has been shown to improve the flow of crucial neurotransmitters and hormones that improve mood.
Various therapies are used to target specific things that interfere with the sense of wellbeing, whether they are life events, relationships, or longer-term patterns. Some of these therapies include:
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Positive Psychology
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT)
- Relationship Counselling
- Cognitive Analytic Therapy
- Schema Therapy
Key tip: A Mental Health Treatment Plan from your GP is a government subsidy that covers a large portion of the consultation fee with a psychologist.
When To Seek Professional Help?
Seek professional help when the symptoms of depression have:
- lasted longer than 2 weeks
- difficulty functioning in occupational, education, and social settings
- made daily routine activities difficult to do. (e.g. eating, personal grooming, talking)
- given thoughts of suicide
- made you want to work on techniques to improve your mood
Benefits Of Professional Help
- Reduce depression symptoms
The difficulties that make depression arise are treatable from a therapy perspective. Therapy run by an experienced practitioner can help you reduce depression symptoms.
- Understand the root cause of depression
Better understand the interplay that caused depression, so there is more awareness around your triggers. Gaining insight into the what, why, and how of your depression symptoms will give you the momentum towards depression recovery.
- Develop a clearly defined and practical strategy to move out of the depression
Undo unhelpful coping behaviours and identify the pattern of thoughts that arise from depression to resolve them.
- Reconnect with an enjoyable and meaningful life
Treatment can quickly give good reason to believe that tomorrow can be different. There is personal growth that comes from the road to recovery from depression. This ordeal can be transformed into your life wisdom moving forward, expanding your perception towards newfound freedom from depression.
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