We often use the expression ‘I feel depressed’ when we’re feeling sad or miserable about life or in response to certain life events. Usually, these feelings can often go away or diminish in time. But, if these feelings are preventing you from doing things or interfering with your life and don’t go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back, over and over again, for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you’re depressed in the medical sense of the term.

In its mildest form, depression can be seen as ‘feeling down’ or ‘blue’. It doesn’t stop you leading your normal life, but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, major depression (clinical depression) can be completely debilitating and can, at times make you feel, life appears to have no meaning.

What can cause depression?

Depression can very from person to person and is unique to the individual that is experiencing it.

Depression can stem from childhood. If we have had a traumatic event at a young age or suffered at the hands of abuse, be it, physical or mental, this can have a huge impact throughout our lives and can continue into adulthood if not dealt with.

Depression can also be caused when we lose something of meaning or a person or life situation that is close to us, such as a bereavement, a breakdown in a relationship such as a marriage or breakdown in the family system, losing a job which can have colossal ramifications for some peoples life situations.

We can also trigger bouts of depression through misuse of substances such as alcohol and drug abuse and also through what we consume in our diet.

How do i know if I’m depressed?

Although depression is often classed as a ‘mental illness’, clinical depression often has as many physical symptoms as mental. The feelings or emotions that are depression symptoms actually begin to cause the physical effects. How this happens is a vital part of understanding depression and the symptoms that come with it.

If you are depressed at the moment some of the following symptoms may sound familiar:

•You feel miserable and sad.

•You feel exhausted a lot of the time with no energy.

•You feel as if even the smallest tasks are sometimes impossible.

•You seldom enjoy the things that you used to enjoy – you may be off sex or food or may ‘comfort eat’ to excess.

•You feel very anxious sometimes.

•You don’t want to see people or are scared to be left alone. Social activity may feel hard or impossible.

•You find it difficult to think clearly.

•You feel like a failure and/or feel guilty a lot of the time.

•You feel a burden to others.

•You sometimes feel that life isn’t worth living.

•You can see no future. There is a loss of hope. You feel all you’ve ever done is make mistakes and that’s all that you ever will do.

•You feel irritable or angry more than usual.

•You feel you have no confidence.

•You spend a lot of time thinking about what has gone wrong, what will go wrong or what is wrong about yourself as a person. You may also feel guilty sometimes about being critical of others (or even thinking critically about them).

•You feel that life is unfair.

•You have difficulty sleeping or wake up very early in the morning and can’t sleep again. You seem to dream all night long and sometimes have disturbing dreams.

•You feel that life has/is ‘passing you by.’

•You may have physical aches and pains which appear to have no physical cause, such as back pain.

We have practices in Highgate and East Finchley.

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