Understanding depression

Depression is no laughing matter – obviously.

And the figures show that the spectre of low mood looms large over many of us.

Statistics suggest that up to about 15% of us in the developed world will suffer from serious depression at some time with many more of us experiencing low mood to a point that causes us difficulty.

But what is depression?

Depression is a collection of systems that fit quite neatly around negative introspective thinking and reduced activity.

These include:

  • Feeling sad
  • Reduced motivation
  • Weight change – usually loss
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of energy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feeling worthless
  • Sleep changes

Causes are not always clear unless there has been a significant event in life such as the death of a loved one but the maintaining factors are. And these two factors are, as already stated, negative introspective thinking and reduced activity.

Click for larger image

Depression cycle

If we have experienced bereavement, it is usually best to allow the low mood to run its course – grief is a perfectly natural if totally unpleasant reaction to an event few of us escape.

If the cause is less clear or we frequently experience recurring bouts of low mood it is important to remain active wherever possible.

If this feels too difficult then try to engage in an activity for at least ten minutes and register how you feel after doing this. Your mood will likely lift, even if only because you have a small sense of achievement.

And don’t get tough on yourself if the elevated mood doesn’t last for long. It is frequently returning to activities and small gains that make for the best long-term effects.

If you feel that you have depression, see your doctor as soon as possible but try to get active in a variety of arenas as soon as you can. Don’t wait until you feel able or you might not get there for a long time.


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