Do I have depression?
- Are you isolating yourself from friends and family?
- Do you feel hopeless, seeing everything in a negative way?
- Do you find it hard to take pleasure or interest in things?
- Have you noticed changes in sleeping and eating patterns?
- Is it hard to get motivated about anything?
Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a medical condition that affects your physical and mental health. It can make life feel unbearable and hopeless. To make things more difficult, many people who experience depression also experience symptoms of anxiety, such as racing thoughts, rapid heart rate and difficulty sleeping. You may recognise that you need help, but you aren’t sure where you can turn to find support and relief.
One in five people will experience depression
All of us feel sad, moody or low from time to time. If you experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time – weeks, months or even years – and sometimes without any apparent reason, you may have clinical depression. Depression is predicted to be one of the world’s most common health problems by 2020.
Depression is usually due to a combination of recent events and longer-term or personal factors – family history, for example, rather than one immediate issue or event. You may realise that you have felt depressed in the past, but you didn’t recognise that you needed help at the time. While there are key signs and symptoms that can indicate depression, it is a different experience for everyone.
Fortunately, help is available to manage and overcome depression.
Once diagnosed, depression is a very treatable condition. Understanding that difficult thoughts, emotions and symptoms may be signs of a treatable medical condition is a ﬁrst big step in overcoming depression.
I provide guidance and support to help you understand if you are depressed and what you can do to find relief and foster a more peaceful, joyful life.
Signs and symptoms of depression
People suffering from depression often experience symptoms in their body, behaviour, thoughts and feelings.
You may be isolating yourself from friends, relying on alcohol and not enjoying or participating in your usual activities.
You might have difficulty concentrating, remembering things and staying productive or perhaps you have felt increasingly stressed at work or in your personal relationships.
You may be full of doubt, thinking negative thoughts such as: I’m a failure, It’s my fault, nothing good ever happens to me, I’m worthless, life’s not worth living, People would be better off without me.
You may feel overwhelmed, sad, indecisive or hopeless. This often accompanies feelings of low self esteem.
You may notice that your sleeping and eating habits have changed. Perhaps you feel tired and sick, or you may have lost interest in sex. You may have headaches and muscle pains, a churning gut, a pain in the chest and trouble breathing.
Therapy and writing workshops as treatment for depression
Once depression is recognised and diagnosed, there is much that can be done to treat it so you can start to get on with your life again. Understanding your situation and treatment options means you’re in a better position to make sure you get the support and treatment you need.
Psychological therapy has been shown to be the most effective treatment for depression, sometimes in conjunction with antidepressant medication, either short-term or on an ongoing basis.
Daily mindfulness or meditation practice offers not only a way to cope with depression, but it can also change our neural pathways. I use mindfulness techniques in both individual treatment and writing workshops as a powerful way to help you become more curious and open in the present moment.
Expressive writing is a creative therapy approach I use both in individual sessions and in writing workshops which can be helpful for understanding depression and processing difficult emotions. Writing exercises can help you make sense of your ‘depression story’. Through them, you can gain new perspectives for reframing your life.
Whatever treatment you choose, I can help you put in place a basic foundation of self-care, which includes: regular exercise, routine sleeping patterns, healthy food, reduced alcohol and some emotional connection with others.
If you want to reframe your old stories and live a more balanced life free from depression, there is a path forward.
You may still have questions/concerns
I have tried therapy before and it didn’t work
Therapy is like any other relationship – a complex interaction that depends on where we are at in our lives, what we are willing to explore, how fearful we are and whether you find a therapist you trust who can provide a personalised approach to depression treatment.
Like all relationships, we need different things at different times, and it may be worth trying a new therapist. Or, you might benefit from joining a group like my writing workshops, which also provide valuable learning from other participants.
I don’t want individual therapy. Is there another way to help myself?
Yes, for eight years I have been running expressive writing workshops. These workshops introduce participants to a range of writing and mindfulness techniques, which help them understand, reframe and re-story their lives.
The workshops are based on a writing technique used to process and recover from trauma that can be very helpful if you are experiencing depression or anxiety.
What if writing or therapy makes things worse?
As we explore our stories, we may discover – sometimes for the first time – emotions that we were unaware of. This can be disconcerting in the short-term, but it is a normal, natural part of the process of treating depression.
I foster a safe environment, both in groups and in individual therapy, where you can work through difficult thoughts, emotions and experiences at your own pace.
You can live a life free of depression