Depression can affect anyone. It is one of the most common mental health difficulties and one in ten people in Ireland will experience difficulties with depression at some time in their lives. Depression can affect people in a number of ways and people describe their experiences of depression differently. However, there are some things that peoples’ experiences tend to have in common.
You are most likely to experience symptoms of depression when you are in the middle of a stressful time. Examples of stressful times include experiencing the loss of someone close or adjusting to big life changes such as having a baby or becoming physically ill.
Depression can come on suddenly or it can build up more slowly over time. Some people are more prone to becoming depressed wither due to your body make up (including body chemistry), because of early life experiences, family influences or unhelpful beliefs that you have built into your life.
Lets take a closer look at common ways how depression can affect your Thoughts, Emotions, Physical status and Behavior:
When people are depressed their patterns of thinking about themselves, others and the world can trigger or increase depression. They often see themselves, other people, situations and their future in an overly pessimistic and critical way, emphasising the negatives and dismissing or not attending to the positives.
Depression and low mood can cause a variety of distressing and unpleasant emotions. It is common to feel sad, anxious, numb, angry, irritable, hopeless, frustrated, or have an overwhelming sense of guilt or failure.
The physical symptoms of depression include sleep problems, little energy, changes in appetite, aches and pains, poor concentration, difficulties with remembering things, and loss of interest in physical intimacy.
Depression and low mood can lead us to acting in particular ways. Some of the behaviours commonly associated with depression are withdrawal from others, not taking care of ourselves, reduced involvement in activities you used to enjoy, and putting of day-to-day duties.
You may be able to identify a specific event or experience that you believe triggered your depression, or you may think that your depression has arisen due to a number of different things.
In either case you may also be able to identify triggers for low mood on a more day-to-day basis. In other words, at times you may feel more relaxed or not so aware of being low in mood but then something happens (e.g. a particular thought goes through your mind or following a specific event) which triggers your depression – you become more aware of being low in mood and/or your mood falls.
An important part of overcoming depression involves identifying these day-to-day triggers as they provide an indicator as to what is going on and what changes may be helpful.