January to March are traditionally the months when most retrenchments take place, as companies finalise their financial year-end and set budgets for the new year. But being retrenched is an extremely traumatic experience which invariably results in anger, feelings of resentment and helplessness and, frequently, depression. This is, therefore, an opportune time to learn what depression is all about. It is a very real illness - as real as flu or heart problems. In fact, experts estimate that between nine percent and 25% of the population suffers from depression or a related anxiety disorder.
The Depression and Anxiety Support Group maintains that it is perfectly natural to feel blue at certain times because feelings of elation and sadness are understandable responses to daily events. People who suffer from clinical depression, however, feel persistently negative regardless of external circumstances. And this negative mood affects their interaction with the world and disrupts normal life functioning.
This illness affects a remarkable number of people at some stage of their lives. And, for reasons yet unknown, women are twice more likely than men to experience both severe and milder forms of clinical depression. It often first appears in the early twenties or thirties.
But what are the symptoms of depression?
· Lack of energy and tiredness every day
· Lack of concentration
· Disturbed sleep patterns - either sleeping too much or too little
· Disturbed appetite
· Lack of interest in sex
· General irritability, anger or anxiety
· A feeling of being unable to cope
· Not being able to take pleasure in anything
· Psychomotor disturbances
Many people have experienced some of these symptoms at some stage in their lives but a major depression results when at least five of the symptoms listed above have been present, consistently, for more than two weeks and at least one of the symptoms is depressed mood or loss of interest in life.
A milder form of depression, known as chronic dysthymia, is characterised by a feeling of depression on most days for at least two years, along with two of the symptoms listed.
Left untreated depression generally resolves within a year, although about 50% to 85% of people who have suffered a major depression will have at least one more episode in their lives. Researchers distinguish between reactive (exogenous) depression which follows a clear-cut traumatic event, and endogenous depression which is thought to be caused by changes in the brains chemistry. But whether this is a cause or a result of depression is still unknown. The distinction between the two forms of depression is, however, often hard to make. A major problem, though, is that a large number of sufferers do not realise that they are suffering from clinical depression and blame their consistently negative mood on all kinds of external events. The first step in beating clinical depression, however, is to acknowledge that you are suffering from it! Once you have accepted this fact, you should seek effective help as depression is now one of the most treatable illnesses. Almost all clinically depressed people can be helped by a combination of modern treatments which include a wide variety of effective anti-depressants. It is also helpful to consult a therapist regularly to work through any underlying issues which may be contributing to your depression.
SELF HELP FOR DEPRESSION:
Here are some tips from The Depression and Anxiety Support Group:
Don’t bottle things up. If you’ve had some bad news or a major upset, tell people close to you about it and how you feel.
Although you may want to be alone, you may feel better if you try to take part in some routine activities which you previously enjoyed with your family and friends.
Try to take it easy and dont criticise yourself for not being able to do all your usual activities. You will be able to resume all your old activities when the depression is gone.
Don’t expect too much from yourself right away. Feeling better takes time. Keep your expectations realistic. It is usually not possible to resolve an issue or change a lifelong pattern overnight.
Avoid making any major life decisions, such as changing jobs or ending a relationship, until you’re feeling better.
Maintain your daily routine as much as possible.
Keep occupied eg read a book, watch TV, pursue a hobby, do a jigsaw puzzle. While concentration may be difficult, it is possible to train yourself to increase the amount of time spent concentrating on something, simply by practise.
Exercise. Do something physical. Get out of doors, even if it is only for a walk. Any form of exercise, rigorous or gentle, can have beneficial effects.
Relaxation. There are many methods of relaxation such as audio tapes, yoga, meditation, aromatherapy and massage - to mention but a few - which are effective in allaying anxiety and tension.
Remember, there is no reason to feel ashamed or embarrassed if you discover that you’re suffering from depression. And don’t let the words mental illness scare you. You are suffering from changes in your brains chemistry, which is beyond your control and you will get better.
It is extremely important to remember that depression is an illness like any other - we just dont know for sure what causes it. For more information or counselling please contact the Support Group on (011) 783-1474/6 or (011) 884-1797. Visit their website at www.anxiety.org
(Information supplied by The Depression and Anxiety Support Group and, with permission, the Internet site http://iafrica.com/doconline/)