Everyone has times when they feel low. Depression is when you feel this way for weeks or months at a time and it affects your ability to get on with and enjoy your life.

It’s a common mental health problem. So, if you have it, you’re not alone.

“Anybody can become depressed,” says Jackie Rogers, an accredited counsellor in Burton-on-Trent. “It’s not a sign of weakness.”

Without treatment, depression symptoms can affect people for years.

But the good news is there are a variety of treatments that can help with depression, including counselling and other talking therapies. A counsellor can help you explore the feelings you have and accept them.

What are the symptoms of depression?

Depression affects people in a variety of different ways. It’s not just about feeling sad. It can have an impact on your body, mood, behaviour and thoughts.

As well as low mood, depression symptoms can include feeling very tearful, irritable or angry, losing interest in things you previously enjoyed or feeling tired and having less energy. You may also lose concentration, self-confidence, appetite and motivation.

Jackie adds: “Depression can leave people feeling like they are isolated but at the same time they want to hide away from others. They feel hopeless and think that other people don’t like them.”

She says: “Some of the symptoms are more unexpected such as unexplained aches or pains.”

If you have any of these symptoms regularly over a two-week period, it’s best to go to see your GP.

It can be common for people with depression to have symptoms of anxiety too.

What are the causes of depression?

There’s not one single cause of depression.

One reason for becoming depressed can be a change in your life, such as divorce, losing a job, or having a baby.

Disputes and arguments or a breakdown in relationships can cause depression, says Jackie. Bereavement can trigger it too.

Even lack of sunlight during the winter can be a factor.

Sometimes people who put their own needs last and give too much to others can be particularly susceptible to depression.

But “sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a particular reason,” adds Jackie.

How can counselling help?

A counsellor will listen to you without judging you.

They can help you explore your feelings, acknowledge them and accept them.

They can also support you to find your own ways to cope with what you are going through – and suggest different strategies and self-care techniques.

Jackie says: “There may be a bit of challenge in there too. As a therapist, it’s about being mindful of the person’s language and challenging their negative thoughts where appropriate.

“Self-acceptance is really important. A counsellor can help you with that.

 “Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t feel guilty for having a pyjama day. The more you try to stop depression the more it can suffocate you.”

There are different types of therapy that may help you in different ways.

  • Inter personal therapy can help understand your relationships with different people and if they are affecting you positively or negatively.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you manage your depression by changing the way you think and behave.
  • Person-centred and psychodynamic therapies can help you discover and explore the root cause of your depression and regain your self-confidence.

Jackie says: “The important thing is for you to find out what works best for you. It’s best for you to come to your own conclusions. Everybody is different.”

If you have any comments or would like to share your story, please email us at engage@bacp.co.uk

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