What are the two most common mental health problems today? Depression and Anxiety according to Mental Health Foundation [1]. In my previous post, I answered the question about what is Anxiety (Go to page), in this post, I would like to explore what is depression.

Depression is categorised as a feeling of low mood and energy, sadness, and hopelessness [2,3], to put it very simply. To break down depression into its simplest form, I will describe each of the elements that are categorised above.

Starting with low mood and energy. It is quite normal in life for our natural body rhythms to have highs and lows. These could be related to season, hormones or weather, but it could also be situational, a new baby, a new job, moving home, or work deadline. The low mood and energy could be from being rather busy, thinking or worrying too much, or something that is overwhelming you. On the other side, you could get a high mood, with anticipation of holiday or completion of something or something you are looking forward to. What is important here is to try and understand your body and minds natural highs and lows, and also to other aspects that could be influencing your highs or lows. For example, someone may feel high when busy and low when quiet, but then there are some who feel high when quiet and low when busy or someone may feel high when challenged, but another may feel low when challenged.

Sadness, is feeling unhappy. Happiness is a feeling of content and pleasure; therefore, unhappiness is not being satisfied and melancholy. If you had low mood and energy, how would you feel? Would you feel satisfied, would you be keeping up with everything, would you feel pleasure? If you are melancholic, you are thinking sad thoughts, or negative thoughts. Did you know that self-confidence is a result of your thoughts towards how YOU THINK OTHERS perceive you? If you are sad, you will have sad thoughts, therefore your self-confidence will be low, and therefore you have no motivation and will power. All these will then also contribute to low mood and low energy. A bit like the negative thought cycle of anxiety, which is also why depression and anxiety can be closely linked.

Hopelessness, is the result of low mood and energy, and sadness and low confidence. Hopelessness is the feeling of being hopeless. A point to remember here is this is JUST a feeling. It does not mean YOU are hopeless. If you feel hopeless, you feel stuck, trapped, in darkness, you are in a sad box all wrapped up and you are not going anywhere, you are stuck here in this negative box for ever. Who would want that?

Depression is different for everyone, like stress, depression is person-situation specific. No one can tell you how to cheer yourself up, or to overcome it, most people probably will not even understand why you feel this way. Unfortunately, the only one that can help, is YOU.

A counsellor is taught to look out for depressive symptoms of the excessive use of I. Have you noticed that depressed people are wholly focused on themselves? Why do you think this is? Think of the negative box, or some people call it a black box. In trauma counselling, they advise you when supporting someone who is suffering, is to let them process the information, that they may talk about the same things over and over and over, but it’s what they need to do. People with depression need to find a way to open their box, and then step outside their box, and then to live again. So how do you open the box and progress out?

To open the black box, through understanding, you need to go through the aforementioned points. Know where you are, what bought you here. Do not let the negative thoughts take over (sadness and melancholy), keep active, don’t give up, know the activities that will lift your mood. If your mood is lifted, so will your energy levels. Understand what you can do to get out the box, whether it is to get help, move jobs, lesson your work load, balance your life, or whatever in your life that is contributing to your depression. It will not happen quickly, it’s a process, so keep going even if the results do not reflect immediately.

Also, do not expect anything, because that will not happen, appreciate what you receive, then you will receive many things.

[1] Mental Health Foundation statistucs extracted 24-06-2019 from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/statistics/mental-health-statistics-most-common-mental-health-problems
[2] Mental Health Foundation Depression extracted 24-06-2019 from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/d/depression
[3] Mind Org Depression extracted 24-06-2019 https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/depression/symptoms/#.XRDX2497nIU

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