Look out for life events that can lead to depression, say therapists
Updated 21 October 2014
by Kitty Knowles
Tuesday 09 September 2014492 3280
Depression can make you feel like you have little energy or enthusiasm, you may not be able to eat or sleep as usual, or you may just feel that there is nothing to get out of bed for. It can affect people at any time, but there are some situations in life that may mean you are particularly at risk. We asked six RSCPP therapists to pinpoint situations when you may be most susceptible to depression, so that you can spot it early and combat its effects.
When you've been through a relationship breakdown or separation
When a relationship breaks down and spouses or partners separate, it can be one of the most turbulent and challenging of all emotional experiences. Many people work through the immediate turmoil with the support of new partners, friends, family or colleagues, digesting and making sense of the new situation, finding their feet and moving on. Some people will have 'bad days' following a separation when they may feel unhappy and hopeless, and a smaller number still, get stuck in such feelings becoming depressed. People in this latter group are likely to benefit from professional support.
When you're battling a long term illness
Emotional wellbeing is such an important element to consider when dealing with a physical illness, however it is so often overlooked when the focus is on your physical and medical needs. Depression can be more prevalent in people with a physical illness, so recognising and managing any signs of depression can aid in improving your overall wellbeing whilst dealing with the impact of your physical illness. As some of the symptoms of depression may be similar to those caused by a physical illness or its treatment; talking about how you're feeling to a doctor can help to determine whether it is the physical illness or depression that is responsible.
When you're lonely
There are many circumstances which may cause you to experience loneliness. Young people going off to university may experience loneliness for a considerable period of time, as they adjust to leaving home for the first time and living and studying alongside strangers. People who 'manage' their loneliness by keeping busy can find Christmas, when it seems that everyone is spending the holiday with family, an intensely lonely time. While these couple of days may be uncomfortable, it is generally the longer term, more enduring loneliness which can lead to depression.
When you're going through bereavement
Most of us will suffer from the loss of a loved one at some point in our lives and it is perfectly normal to feel a range of emotions, from shock and disbelief, sadness, anger, anguish, guilt or even depression. This is part of the grieving process and at times, these feelings may feel overwhelming. Although grief and depression can look quite similar there are some warning signs to look out for especially if you have a history of depression. Many think that until all the anniversaries have passed, they are not fully ready to resume 'normal' life, but everyone and every culture reacts differently.
When you've been made redundant, or have financial troubles
At times, redundancy and financial problems may trigger feelings of depression. Even wanted and planned redundancies involve adjusting to new circumstances, and so a loss of the old and familiar. You want to be able to pay the bills, perhaps to be a provider for others, or you may feel you have a certain role or standing in the community. However your ability to do these things can be threatened by redundancy and financial pressures. This can affect your self-confidence and may lead to depression.
When you've been taking alcohol or drugs in excess
Sometimes you may take drugs such as alcohol to numb the feelings of depression. It is a temporary solution though, and exacerbates the problem; alcohol and some drugs physically cause depression because of what they do to the chemicals in the brain. If you notice that you are feeling low more often and you are using a drug like alcohol, this is a good time to find alternatives which boost your mood, like exercise, a chat with a friend, or doing something that interests you. It is good if you can make this connection early, as it gets harder to make changes the more the drug affects your brain.
How common is depression?
"Depression is the most searched for issue on rscpp.co.uk by far (accounting for 22% of searches), and 96% of our therapists also have experience in treating depression." said RSCPP Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tommy Newman.
You can find out more about symptoms and causes of Depression
, including how to find a therapist. If this route is not appropriate for you, your GP can assess you and direct you towards support.