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What is depression?

What is depression?

Feeling down? We all get down from time to time, especially in these cold miserable weeks after Christmas when it can be hard to get out of the bed in the morning and get ourselves going. However, depression is more than just the “blues,” or temporarily feeling a bit down or sad. It is a serious condition that affects a person’s mind and body and impacts all aspects of their everyday life including eating, sleeping, work, relationships, and how a person thinks about him or herself.

Depression is the world’s most common mood disorder and is spreading fast. At the current rate the World Health Organisation predicts it will leap from the fourth to the second greatest cause of human suffering in the world by the year 2030. Our understanding of it is confusingly coloured by myths: it is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain; it is anger turned inward; it takes a long time to come out of; it is due to some kind of weakness in ourselves.

Depression is contagious

Although depression is not a biological illness, it does appear to be ‘contagious’. Michael Yapko in his excellent 2009 book Depression is Contagious, writes that depression is a social problem rather than a medical disease. Depression doesn’t just affect a single individual. It reaches into the interactions we have with others- friends, family, work colleagues and whole communities – like a virus. What we do to each other can easily become the course of great hurt and pain in our lives and can affect how we think, feel and relate to others. But we are now beginning to understand that just as people can be a source of pain, they can also be a source of great comfort, happiness and a way out of pain. We humans are built to be in positive meaningful relationships with other people in order to feel good. Research using modern brain scanning technologies is showing that our social lives directly affect our brain chemistry and how we think and feel – positive life experiences cause our brains to change.

Take action

The first step out of depression is to talk to someone about it. We tend to be slow to look for help, perhaps because we feel ashamed of our feelings or simply don’t recognise the signs or symptoms that something may be wrong. But until we take action, things won’t change.

Talk to someone you know you can trust – whether a partner or close friend or family member. It might also be a trained counsellor. Counselling can be extremely effective in recovering from depression, and the process doesn’t have to take a long time. In many cases, people recover within weeks.

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 in complete confidentiality, call Alison Winfield, Mindfully Well Counselling Cork on 087 9934541.

Book a counselling session today!


Other related articles on depression: Symptoms of Depression. Beat Depression Fast!, Depression and Negative Bias