Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Depression (2)

As someone who has had bouts of depression throughout most of my life, and also worked for many years as a social worker in the field of mental health, I guess I do get a little irritated by people who make assumptions about the condition, without taking the trouble to find out more about it.

There is still a stigma related to depression or any other kind of mental illness.  People who are depressed are not mad...they are just experiencing difficulties in their lives, which they find hard to cope with.

Most people will probably experience a form of mild depression at some time during their lives...maybe without even realising it.  Some are strong enough to cope with it and move on with no ill effects. Some, like me, will have learned to recognise the warning signs and through years of experience, will know how to deal with it.
To others, however, it becomes a burden...a heavy weight on their shoulders, that drags them down into a bottomless pit with no apparent way out.  This of course is the time to seek help.  It's not always easy to ask for help, however, because there is still a lot of prejudice out there.  It's difficult for some to seek help from those closest to them, because they worry that it will be seen as a sign of weakness, and that people will think less of them...or even label them as "mad".

There are early warning signs to look out for...not just for those suffering...but for those close to them to be aware of:

- A change in sleep patterns..or difficulty sleeping.

- Overwhelming feelings of anxiety.

- Lack of interest in those pastimes that were previously enjoyable.

- A feeling of hopelessness, lack of self esteem and guilt

- Fatigue and overall lower energy levels

- Loss of appetite or abnormally large appetite, leading to weight loss or gain

- Irritability, restlessness and short temper

- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions

- Problems with  maintaining close relationships
This is the best time to seek help, before the condition gets worse.
Sometimes experiencing Depression can be a positive thing.  It's an opportunity to change your life for the better. In my case I learned a lot more about myself and how I react to certain situations...and most important of to deal with it and get on with my life.
Please be aware of those around you.  If you think they are suffering in what you can to help, or gently steer them in the direction of a professional who can give them the help they need.


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