Symptoms of Depression
Feeling miserable and bad about yourself much of the time, being increasingly preoccupied with negative ideas about your life and the world, not feeling motivated to do the things you used to enjoy, sleeping poorly and often waking up exhausted and finding everything an effort are all symptoms of depression.
Maybe you can’t keep your mind on what you are doing or can’t bring yourself to spend time with other people. Maybe you can’t sleep or wake up too early because of the worries going round and round in your head, or maybe you are sleeping all day, a thick and unrefreshing sleep that is simply a way of avoiding being awake and tackling problems. This, of course, leaves you more exhausted. Maybe you can’t eat, or maybe you can’t stop eating. Perhaps you are too unmotivated even to contemplate the simplest task. Maybe even to get yourself into the shower and get dressed is just too huge to contemplate and may reduce you to tears.
When you get that low, you may feel you are in the grip of a terrible unfathomable illness that you are powerless to fight against. Even if you have experienced and overcome depression in the past, you may still feel unable to prevent it swallowing you again; it feels like a life sentence, and an unavoidable curse.
In fact, with the right knowledge, it isn’t. The monstrous, life destroying experience of depression can be totally outwitted, banished and annihilated – BY YOU.
Future blog posts will look in more detail at things you can do right now to banish symptoms of depression but I will list some of the key ones now:
1. Use a relaxation technique to calm yourself down – 7/11 breathing
If you are in a negative emotional state, a relaxation technique will help you to calm down and get into your observing self for some perspective on your situation. A good method is known as ‘7-11 breathing‘, a simple breath control exercise that stimulates your natural relaxation response.
Here is how you do it:
• breathe in for a count of 7
• then breathe out for a count of 11
Make sure that when you are breathing in, you are doing deep ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ (your diaphragm moves down and pushes your stomach out as you take in a breath) rather than shallower higher lung breathing. If you find that it’s difficult to lengthen your breaths to a count of 11 or 7, then reduce the count to breathing in for 3 and out to 5, or whatever suits you best, as long as the out-breath is longer than the in-breath. Continue in this way for 5-10 minutes or longer if you have time – and enjoy the calming effect it will have on your mind and body.
2. Talk to somebody
Talking with others takes you out of yourself, curbs how much pointless worrying you can do and is fun. If you have been putting off phoning or meeting up with a friend, make an effort to arrange something.
3. Get some aerobic exercise
As we all know, but perhaps don’t take advantage of as much as we should, exercise releases feel-good endorphins, relieves stress, provides opportunities for meeting others and ultimately raises your fitness levels. To improve your mood, or just get you out of the house for an afternoon, go for a walk, jog or bike ride – being in the fresh air (even when it’s cold and wet!) is a well-known mood raiser so try and get out in touch with nature if you are able to.
4. Force yourself to do an activity that you enjoy doing that has a beginning, a middle and an end
Perhaps you enjoy cooking, reading, painting, gardening, or some other hobby. Take some time and effort to do a fun activity to focus your attention on something enjoyable and lower your emotional arousal. If this task ends with a finished product, a picture, a cake, a mown lawn, it will remind you of what you can achieve and how capable you are.
For more information on depression go to my Depression Counselling Cork page.
Need some more advice and support?
If you are feeling low or depressed and would like to talk it over with complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.
Book a counselling session today!