Understanding Depression (Part 1)
Depression affects most of us at some time, either personally or indirectly with people we are close to. It affects people regardless of their age, occupation or level of income.
Although depression is so common, people are often confused about what it is. It isn’t sadness such as we feel if a pet dies, as many people struggling with depression can feel numb, angry, agitated or anxious, but sadness is not usually what predominates.
Depression is a state of shutdown. It is also a shift in our emotional state, where we experience a significant increase in negative emotions, such as anger, irritability, despair and a down shift in our positive emotions, such as pleasure, curiosity and happiness.
Depression also causes people to feel fatigue, difficulty concentrating, problems sleeping and altered appetites for things like food and sex. In terms of thinking, depressed people tend to focus on things that have not worked in the past, rather than being able to see into the future where there are hope and possibilities. If the pain of depression and feeling trapped inside yourself is too great, then sometimes self-harm or suicide feels like the only way out.
Unfortunately, the paradox of depression is that it makes us want to do the very last thing we should do, which is isolate ourselves. We just want to hide in our cave, but if we retreat there then we are alone with no place to go. In effect, we just feed the beast that is depression and make it bigger and ever more overwhelming.
Although being in a state of depression might feel helpless, once we begin to understand the nature of this beast, then we have some tools to fight it. Certainly, the situation is not hopeless, even though it can sometimes feel that way.
If the subject matter in this article resonates with you, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you.
Lately I have seen a number of couples I know facing mental health challenges in one partner. Mental health is often still a stigma and many people may prefer to overlook changes in their loved one for as long as possible. Mental health, however, is as important as physical health, and we should work to maintain it, and get it attended to by a relevant professional as soon as possible when there are signs that something isn’t right. Early intervention can help to reduce the severity of an illness, or perhaps stop it developing altogether.
The impact on the couple relationship of one partner with mental illness can be extremely stressful, sometimes leading to the breakdown of the relationship. Considering this, learning about some warning signs of mental illness can help you to act sooner rather than later. Here are some things to look for:
If you have any concerns, contact your GP in the first instance to discuss the symptoms, and what steps should be taken in terms of assessment and possible treatment. There may be physical health problems with similar symptoms that need to be explored. If psychological treatment is necessary, then you should also discuss couples counselling as an adjunct therapy. Working with an experienced counsellor can help you to repair any damage caused by the symptoms, as well as adjust to the changing demands of your partner’s health.
If the subject matter in this article resonates with you, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you. Feel free to contact me via the Contact page on this website.
This article was also published here: https://www.theenglishinformer.com/article_detail/Mental-health-is-as-important-as-physical-healthwww.theenglishinformer.com/article_detail/Mental-health-is-as-important-as-physical-health
As the weather starts to warm up and the days become longer, I feel my darker mood of winter lifting. This is, however, one of the busiest times of year for me in terms of seeing clients. It is also the time of year when the suicide rate is at its highest. Some researchers hypothesize this is because people are engaging with each other more as the weather improves, while others argue that during the winter we expect to feel more alone and depressed, but when those feelings of hopelessness fail to pass with the changing of the seasons, people can start to feel desperate.
Sadly, the World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people in the world take their own life each year. When you also consider the devastating effects of suicide on the network of friends and loved ones, it means millions of people suffer, often needlessly.
The suicide rate tends to be highest among young people under 24 and older men, the latter statistic tending to be because men usually use more violent methods to attempt suicide.
If you are worried that someone you know may be suicidal, or you are finding it tough to carry on yourself, here are some signs to look for that might indicate you need to take action:
If you or someone you know is potentially considering suicide, there are ways to intervene to minimize the risk, and these include:
Often when people think about suicide they call it taking their own life, but it is important to remember that those who are left behind also lose an enormous part of their lives as they struggle through the grief. As winter turns to spring, make sure you take care of your own mental health and look out for those around you who may be struggling.
In closing I thought I would share these lines written by Christopher Bergland (The Athlete’s Way, 2007):
“I’ve been there myself. If you are depressed or suicidal do whatever you have to do to stay vital and get yourself back on track. You were born to be alive. Don’t isolate. Reach out. Ask for help. There will be sunbeams in your soul again. Ride out the storm—but don’t do it alone. People will take care of you. Let them. And make a vow, when you’re back on top, to give something back.”
If you find feeling overwhelmed or out of control, counselling can help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you.
This article was also published on English Informer In France
Isolation and Why We Should Avoid It
In the last few weeks in France I have been coming across more cases of people who are isolated, either as individuals, or as couples who rely totally upon each other and rarely get out into the world. When you don’t speak the local language fluently it is all too easy to stay in your own little bubble. In general, our society is increasingly an isolating experience with more young people leaving home to live a single life, marrying later or becoming elderly and living apart from family. Many of us rely on social media and the internet to fill the void of real interaction, which can leave us vulnerable for a number of reasons.
The important thing to understand is that humans are pack animals. Our brains are hardwired for social interaction and living in a close community. Early humans did not live alone, they stayed in groups and worked together to hunt, make shelter, raise children and provide protection and support for each other.
Even though we have evolved in many ways since then, research confirms that being isolated and feeling alone is not good for our health. Lack of emotional support and regular interaction with others has been shown to increase anxiety while gradually decreasing our ability to cope. When we are alone too much our level of stress hormones increases, which can lead to a poor quality of sleep and a compromised immune system. In elderly people, isolation also leads to cognitive decline, as monotonous lack of stimulation day in and day out can cause people to turn their attention inwards far too much. There is a good reason why solitary confinement is considered a cruel and unusual form of punishment in prisons!
The evidence is clear that connection with other people is essential to health and those connections need to be meaningful and with a variety of people who challenge and support us in different ways. Whether you are in rural France or a big city in the U.K., it is vital to avoid prolonged periods of isolation. Seek out more social contacts, get to know your neighbours, learn the local language, find voluntary work, take an evening class, start a book club or a new hobby, talk to your spouse about how you can get out more as a couple and as individuals … in short find ways to build relationships and reduce seclusion, and take care of your mental health.
If you are feeling stuck in your life, counselling can help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you. Please contact me via the Contact page to discuss whether counselling is right for you.