Depression is a serious illness and even more so by the fact that many sufferers do not recognise the symptoms, either assuming that any feelings of sadness will pass or masking any problems with overwork or stimulants such as alcohol or drugs. It is often described as prolonged sadness and can creep up quite unexpectedly. The following is a brief introduction including some of the symptoms and sources of help. However it is essential that if you are feeling low and think you might be depressed you visit your GP.
The break-up of a relationship or bereavement is a time when you are likely to experience a range of emotions; sadness, anxiety, stress, uncertainty about the future.so how do you recognise the real onset of depression? The following is a checklist of possible symptoms:
Psychological symptoms may include:
A persistent feeling of sadness or feeling low
Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness
Feeling there is no future or way out of your current situation or mood
Insomnia, disturbed sleep patterns
Low tolerance and irritability
Low self esteem
Obsessive thoughts about death, suicide or harming your self or others
Confusion and memory lapses
A reliance on drugs or alcohol to 'lift' your mood or block or numb any feelings
Poor motivation and indecisiveness
Social withdrawal, reduced contact with family and friends
Physical symptoms might include:
Lack of energy and lethargy
Slowed movement and speech
Loss of appetite or excessive bingeing, sudden weight gain or loss
Reduced sex drive
If you think you are suffering from any of the above symptoms you should seek help from your GP who can refer you for counselling or prescribe anti-depressants. Anti-depressants have the effect of levelling out your mood by stimulating certain chemicals in the brain that affect how you are feeling. Your dosage should be carefully monitored and any medication given in conjunction with counselling - anti-depressants should only ever be a temporary measure and help you to get to a point where you are able to cope.
For further information on Depression and other related illnesses visit NHS Direct or call 0845 4647
If you are feeling suicidal or in need of counselling contact one of the following organisations:
Telephone 0845 769 7555
Support for children and teenagers
Telephone 0800 1111 (24 hours)
UK charity offering help to sufferers of depression and their families
Medication and Drugs Helpline
Information about prescription drugs and drug misuse
020 7919 2999 (Mon-Fri, 11-17.00)
Help for people who are feeling suicidal
Read the Signs
If you have feelings of distress, anxiety or sadness that last for weeks this site will help you to discover what is going on
UK Telephone 08457 90 90 90 (24 hours) ROI Telephone 0850 60 90 90
Helpline for anyone needing emotional support, Telephone 020 8554 9004
National Drugs Helpline
Telephone 0800 77 66 00 (24 hours)
For people with mental health problems, Telephone 0845 767 8000 (12pm-2am)
Click here for further helpline numbers
"Following my divorce I lost my house and was left with an enormous amount of debt. I had a high pressure job and was starting to drink more and more in order to block out the problems. This led from twice a week to four or five times a week, sometimes every night.
My sleep patterns were very erratic and I seemed to get my best sleep in the morning and evening going to and from work on the train. I was not eating on a regular basis.
After several months of this lifestyle, and I still don't know why, when I got in one night everything seemed to be weighing on me and I could not see an end to the misery I was .
I cannot remember there being one incident that sparked off my suicide attempt, in fact I had been out that evening with friends and had a fairly good time. I started to get sleepy after taking an overdose of alcohol and pills and then suddenly phoned the Samaritans because I had an overwhelming urge to talk to someone. They called an ambulance for me.
What happened next is unclear. I have a vague memory of this period of my life probably because my mind was all over the place. I remember going for counselling sessions and being so emotionally drained that I would sleep for hours afterwards. I had days off work at a time and lost my job. I was prescribed antidepressants for many months and gave up alcohol. My ex wife unfortunately found out about my suicide attempt and used it against me in court to try and prevent me seeing my children.
Piecing back my life together again involved getting physically fit by joining a gym, getting out and about by joining dancing classes and making a conscious decision not to get involved in a relationship. By focusing my attention on my physical and emotional wellbeing I felt that I had a future to look forward to. I retrained and now work for myself in a job I thoroughly enjoy.
Five years on and I have now lost contact with my children following a bitter and lengthy court battle. I still have times, especially at Christmas and birthdays when I get upset and find that there is a tendency to drink more. However, I catch myself and am reminded that what I have now, a new relationship and life that I have built for myself, is far better than I had in the past. I have not needed further counselling or medication but if I did feel that I was getting depressed again I would definitely go back to my GP for counselling, as I found this the most useful tool in getting over my depression."
"When my wife died I didn't leave the house for weeks, other than for essential chores. I simply sat staring into space and hardly ate anything. I went through a range of emotions, anger, isolation, despair, anxiety. After a few months I went to my GP who diagnosed me with mild depression. She explained that it was common to feel low following a bereavement but that I needed to get out of the house and start living a normal life again. She referred me for counselling and I went for nearly a year. I managed to work through my anger that my wife had left me, the despair and loneliness and my feeling that I had no future to look forward to. I eventually managed to let go and accept that my wife had gone, and although I still miss her I have managed to find some enjoyment in my life. I appreciate what I have got, my friends and family, and have joined a local social club to meet new people. My life has taken on a new direction and whilst it will never be as it was is happy and fulfilled."
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