What is depression and how can counselling help?

Tuesday November 30, 2021

We have all experienced feeling sad or having a low mood which is a normal part of everyday life. When a feeling like this lasts for a long period of time such as months or years then that person may be experiencing depression. Depression can make a person experience negative and powerful feelings such as lack of self-worth.

The symptoms and feelings that a person has when depressed are on a spectrum or continuum. When at the milder end that person may feel in low spirits, however when at the more severe end of the spectrum that person may experience suicidal ideation. This is when a person spends time thinking about ending their own life, often in the form of intrusive thoughts. This spectrum of symptoms for depression can also include; 

  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Irritability
  • Avoidance of social situations
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Excessive worry
  • Poor appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping

There are also many physical components that can come with depression, people may feel unusually tired, restless and have physical pains such as cramps or headaches. 

Are there different types of depression?

If someone is given a formal diagnosis of depression then they may be told that they have either mild, moderate or severe depression, this refers to the impact that person’s symptoms have on their daily life. There are also different categories of depression, as depression is a set of symptoms common to all types these categories refer to the cause of why someone is depressed. 

  • Seasonally Affected Disorder (SAD) – is when a person becomes depressed at a particular time of year and is caused by such things as changes in weather and the clocks going backwards or forwards.
  • Dysthymia – this term refers to when depression is continuous and long term, lasting for multiple years.
  • Pre/Post natal depression – these refer to depression that occurs during pregnancy and for the first year after giving birth.

What is the cause of depression?

There is no singular cause for depression and the circumstances of why any one person may suffer with depression will be different. There are however some recognised major factors that can affect why a person may experience depression, they are;

  • Family History – It is recognised that if other members of your family suffer with depression then it increases that person’s likelihood of also suffering with depression. There is no conclusive evidence if this is because of genetics or growing up around people who are depressed.
  • Physical health and illnesses – These can have a massive impact on a person’s mental health. Anything that significantly changes how we have to live daily can be a causal factor for depression.
  • Drugs and Alcohol – Substance abuse can also be a factor for causing depression in a person. Also a person may turn to substance abuse because they already feel depressed, this may be something that causes short term relief but makes the problem worse in the long term, these are also known as safety behaviours and in the case of substance abuse could be a sign of addiction.
  • Medications – Some medications for physical and mental health issues can cause or worsen depression as a side effect. If this is the case then consult your doctor.
  • Personality – People who are perfectionists, have low self-esteem and hold on to stress can be more prone to experiencing depression. 

How can counselling help with depression?

Whilst there is no ‘cure’ for depression, there are lots of things people do to help themselves. One of those is engaging with talking therapy such as counselling or psychotherapy. 

Counsellors and psychotherapists are trained to listen to a person in a way that is non-judgemental, this means that person will feel heard in a way that is not possible in their everyday life. Whilst family and friends may listen to us, they all have their own biases which will influence what they hear. Professional therapists do not share these biases.

Talking therapy can enable a person experiencing depression to talk through and understand some of the ways they are feeling, this can lead to self-acceptance.

Counsellors and psychotherapists can help you to uncover and explore new self-care strategies and ways of coping with the overwhelming feelings that come with depression.

Counselling for depression involves talking through how the person feels, a counsellor will then work with what the person brings in order for them to uncover solutions and understand themselves better. Counselling for depression tends to be more effective when the depression is for a relatively shorter time and the person suffering can make some link as to what may have caused the depression.

Psychotherapy for depression involves focussing on how a person’s past may have influenced who they are in the present. Psychotherapy for depression tends to be longer-term, often lasting for months or years.

If you would like to access either counselling or psychotherapy for depression, please get in touch with us. You can call us on 0113 285 2899 or email us: hello@ukcounsellingnetwork.co.uk

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