Ways we can help
Depression is an illness. Many people have periods of time in their lives when they feel ‘blue’, or ‘a bit low’, often due to external circumstances in their lives. However, sometimes this feeling takes hold and becomes worse and worse over a period of weeks or months until it feels difficult or even impossible to lift yourself up. Guilt or fear can set in and it becomes increasingly difficult to ask for or accept help from friends and loved ones, which results in feelings of isolation that turn ‘the blues’ into an extended period of feeling sad or numb more often than anything else.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Continuous low mood or sadness
- Feeling hopeless and helpless
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling tearful or numb
- Excessive guilt
- Lack of motivation or interest in things you used to enjoy or find pleasurable
- Difficulty making decisions
- Feeling anxious or worried
- Feeling suicidal or thinking of harming yourself – get help now
- Moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- Change in appetite or weight
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Lack of interest in sex
- Disturbed sleep
- Isolating yourself or not wishing to join in
- Struggling with family, friends or work
Counselling is one of the best tools to use to combat depression.
Sometimes when low mood becomes too low for too long, it is hard for even the most well-meaning friends and family to know what to say or how to help. Counselling gives you space where you don’t have to worry about your counsellor, and you can just relax and take the time you need to think through what is happening for you.
Your counsellor is trained in how to listen to you in a way that helps you to make sense of your thoughts, rather than simply turning them over and over in your head. A counsellor can help you to identify limiting beliefs, thought and behaviour patterns that may be contributing to your depression, and offer you support to reconsider these beliefs and try something different.
One of the main differences with counselling is that you can say aloud the things that feel too difficult to admit to anyone else in your life, or where you fear a negative or judgemental reaction. You will be speaking with a professional who will meet your concerns with curiosity and compassion rather than judgement, to help you work out what you need – to lead you gently back to yourself.
Sometimes medication can be a useful support and you may wish to consult your GP alongside counselling.
Mosaic Community Counselling Services can work in tandem with your GP to provide the holistic, wrap-around support that you need to make a full recovery from depression.
Phone us now for an initial assessment, on 01727 863224.
Depression Counselling Techniques and Tips
There are definitely things that you can do by yourself to improve low mood or to tackle depression. These include:
- Being specific about what has triggered your feelings of depression. Is it something situational? Is it something that has happened to you? Do you not know why? Is there anything you can do to adjust your situation? If not, is there anything you can do to adjust your attitude towards this situation?
- Identifying beliefs that you have that keep you feeling depressed; for example ‘no one cares about me’. Keep a journal of these beliefs and spend some time investigating them; how do you know these things to be true? If they are true, what stops you from changing the situation you are in? If they are not true, why do you hold on to this belief? Where did you learn this belief? Does it belong in the here-and-now or is it historical?
- Ask for help! If asking for help is difficult, consider whether you are feeling depressed because you are trying to do more than you are able to do on your own. Others may not realise that you need help and may need you to tell them if you are struggling, especially if you are the person who is normally ‘strong’.
- Ensure that you are eating properly. When you are depressed it is easy to either avoid eating if you have no appetite, or to eat comfort food or easy, unhealthy food. This is a vicious cycle that will lead to you feeling physically ill as well and that will worsen your depression. Try to encourage yourself, as far as possible, to eat regular, healthy meals. If cooking or preparing food is too much, ask for help, or buy healthy, easy to prepare snacks and meals, such as fruit or healthy ready meals. Set a reminder on your phone if you need reminding to eat.
- Put a soothing routine in place before bed time to help with sleep. Take a hot bath, listen to relaxing music and avoid screens 2 hours before bed time. If necessary to soothe anxiety, try a meditation or deep breathing exercise. You can find some here. Talk to your GP if lack of sleep is significantly impacting your day to day life.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, which will keep you awake and worsen feelings of agitation.
- Avoid depressants such as alcohol – as tempting as it is to have a drink when feeling low, alcohol depresses the central nervous system and you will wake up the next day feeling worse.
- Get some exercise and fresh air; even a short walk will boost your mood.
- Talk to family and friends – anyone who is likely to give you space and time to talk and feel understood. If you are struggling to do this, phone a crisis line such as The Samaritans.
Above all, if you are feeling suicidal or like you want to harm yourself, it is important to get help now.