Even though depression and anxiety may be separate diagnoses there can often be an overlap between them.

Depression is a condition which can include many feelings which are normal within the range of human emotions. Depression can manifest in different ways, it may be severe to the extent in which it undermines daily functioning, or it may be mild and masked where the individual has symptoms of depression but he or she is still able to continue daily life (functioning).

Despite much publicity and excellent work of organisations, depression remains poorly understood, misunderstood, and stigmatised. Here are a few personal descriptions* which might be helpful in providing insight into depression and how it feels:

*Due to confidentiality considerations I am presenting a selection of quotations from overseas depression sufferers. The rawness of the personal testimony vividly conveys many aspects of depression.

Therese Borchard

“I think of [depression] as being encased in a glass table in the middle of your living room, able to see what is going on, but claustrophobic and suffocating, wanting so desperately to get out, but being locked inside,” said Therese Borchard, a blog writer and author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes.

According to Borchard, the best description of depression is in William Styron’s A Darkness Visible: as drowning or suffocating.

Kate Buchheister

Kate Buchheister, who’s had depression for 20 years, also mentioned having a hard time breathing. “I have a daily feeling of sadness…I want to escape. The feeling that you get before you are about to cry is how I feel all day. With my depression I have no desire to do anything.” She feels like sleeping all the time, even though she isn’t tired.

Graeme Cowan

“I had terminal numbness,” said Graeme Cowan, author of Back from the BrinkTrue Stories and Practical Help for Overcoming Depression and Bipolar Disorder. He struggled with depression for five years. His psychiatrist said Cowan’s depression was the worst case he’d ever treated.

“I couldn’t laugh, I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t think clearly. My head was in a black cloud and nothing in the outside world had any impact. The only relief that came was through sleep, and my biggest dread was waking up knowing that I had to get through another 15 hours before I could sleep again.”

Quotes sourced from: https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/10/17/personal-experiences-of-depression/

 

What causes depression?

Beyond Blue has greatly contributed to educating Australians about the possible signs of depression, as well as diminishing what was a deeply entrenched stigma around recognition and ownership of this widespread illness. The following information about the causes, signs and symptoms of depression have been sourced from the Beyond Blue website.

Factors that can contribute are:

  • Life events such as long-term unemployment, living in an abusive or uncaring relationship, long-term isolation or loneliness, prolonged work stress – are more likely to cause depression than recent life stresses. However, recent events (such as losing your job) or a combination of events can ‘trigger’ depression if you’re already at risk because of previous bad experiences or personal factors.

Personal factors

  • Family history– Depression can run in families and some people will be at an increased genetic risk. However, having a parent or close relative with depression doesn’t mean you’ll automatically have the same experience. Life circumstances and other personal factors are still likely to have an important influence.
  • Personality– Some people may be more at risk of depression because of their personality, particularly if they have a tendency to worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are perfectionists, are sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative.
  • Serious medical illness
  • Drug and alcohol use – Drug and alcohol use can both lead to and result from depression. Many people with depression also have drug and alcohol problems. Over 500,000 Australians will experience depression and a substance use disorder at the same time, at some point in their lives.

A combination of factors can contribute to developing depression. It’s important to remember that you can’t always identify the cause of depression or change difficult circumstances. The most important thing is to recognise the signs and symptoms and seek support.

Signs and symptoms

You may be depressed if, for more than two weeks, you’ve felt sad, down or miserable most of the time, or have lost interest or pleasure in usual activities, and have also experienced several of the signs and symptoms across at least three of the categories below.

It’s important to remember that we all experience some of these symptoms from time to time, and it may not necessarily mean you’re depressed. Equally, not everyone who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.

Behaviour

  • not going out anymore
  • not getting things done at work/school
  • withdrawing from close family and friends
  • relying on alcohol and sedatives
  • not doing usual enjoyable activities
  • unable to concentrate

Feelings

  • overwhelmed
  • guilty
  • irritable
  • frustrated
  • lacking in confidence
  • unhappy
  • indecisive
  • disappointed
  • miserable
  • sad

Thoughts

  • ‘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.’

Physical

  • tired all the time
  • sick and run down
  • headaches and muscle pains
  • churning gut
  • sleep problems
  • loss or change of appetite
  • significant weight loss or gain

For more information about depression and its affects see the Beyond Blue website: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression

If you are experiencing depression, and would like to discuss how I might be able to help you better manage your challenges please call me on 0438 345 770.