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Dr. Eva Helpard
Counselling & Psychotherapy

One of the least understood mental health problems is also one of the most common: Depression. Many people suffering from the symptoms of depression contact me for help and counselling to understand what is happening to them. Different than feeling blue or sad, depression can be one of the most painful and debilitating illnesses that a person may ever face. With depression, every aspect of a person’s life may be affected: emotional, physical, social and spiritual. We know that depression is not something that a person can just snap out of; depression is an illness, not a weakness.

 

If you are wondering if you are depressed, consider the following symptoms:

Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook – nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.

Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.

Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain – a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.

Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).

Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.

Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.

Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.

Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.

Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.

Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

Suicidal thoughts. The deep despair and hopelessness that comes with depression may trigger suicidal feelings or thoughts.

 

Although depression varies from person to person there are some common signs and symptoms. Itís important to remember that these symptoms can be part of lifeís normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression. When symptoms persist longer than a few weeks it’s time to reach out for help and seek counselling. If you are ever feeling suicidal, you need to know that help is available.

 

Although it may not seem possible, there is light at the end of the tunnel and treatment that includes mental health counselling works! The key components to begin effective treatment include:

  • Getting a thorough medical examination to rule out physical illness,
  • Address physical activity, nutrition and sleep issues right away.
  • Acknowledge significant life changes, losses or stresses by keeping a journal.
  • Start to build positive expectancy by understanding that millions of people have suffered from depression and have successfully dealt with it.
  • Reach out for help and seek counselling. You are dealing with a serious illness and you need support and help now more than ever. Talk to friends, family, your doctor and a mental health professional like me. We are all here to help you.