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Depression General Mental Health

What Actually is Depression?

If you are currently feeling suicidal, find out where you can support here.

As a counsellor, I have had many clients over the years describe their depression to me as a deep, dark fog. 

Many feel like there is no escape and that they are stuck in this darkness with so little energy to do anything. When feeling like this, it is very common to find it impossible to imagine that you might be able to feel well again. 

You might be reading this feeling utterly exhausted, as you have struggled to sleep night after night, week after week. Perhaps you have struggled with food; maybe you have been eating too much or restricting your eating as a way to cope with these difficult emotions. 

It can be common to feel tearful and on edge, and perhaps everything just feels too much. You might have lost interest in your usual hobbies and things you love, making it difficult for you to find joy in life. You might have distanced yourself from your friends and lost interest in making your relationship work or finding a partner. Perhaps you have lost your sex drive, have unexplained headaches or just can’t stop sleeping.

These are just some of the symptoms that people can experience when they have depression. It is different for different people.

Importantly, we need to recognise that depression is serious and real. When we are depressed, we can’t just put on a smile and magically everything will be OK. Encouragement like this, while well meant, is not OK and doesn’t help.

For some more tips on coping with low mood, read this.

Often professionals determine the difference between feeling a bit low and having clinical depression by the length of time these feelings persist. The NHS states that when these symptoms continue for most of the day, every day, for more than 2 weeks and are starting to negatively affect your social life, family life and work, that this is when you may be experiencing clinical depression.

Doctors often categorise depression as mild, moderate or severe, depending on how much of an impact it is having on your day-to-day life. 

You might be wondering why you are feeling this way and what you did wrong. But it is very important to recognise that you are not at fault. Self-blame is not helpful; in fact it is likely to make you feel worse. Instead, it may be helpful to think about what is going on in your life and see if you can think if there is anything that might have triggered your depression. 

Some common triggers of depression are a relationship breakdown, death of a loved one and loneliness. However, there is not always a trigger, as many people have genetically inherited depression.

It is important that you keep yourself safe by sharing how you are feeling with someone you trust and getting some help from a professional. You might want to talk to your GP or a counsellor for help and support.

You can find more from our psychotherapeutic counsellor in residence Chloe here.

Image of the author, Chloe Foster

Chloe Foster has a background in working in mental health and youth work. Today she runs Sussex Rainbow Counselling where she specialises in counselling LGBTQ clients online.

Chloe holds a postgraduate diploma in psychotherapeutic humanistic counselling from The University of Brighton. She is also an approved accredited registrant member of the National Counselling Society, and an accredited gender, sexuality and relationship diversities therapist with Pink Therapy.
Website: www.sussexrainbowcounselling.com