Today starts the Depression Awareness week, and it runs until the 3rd May. It’s a great opportunity to raise more awareness about the illness, what it entails, and how to best manage it. But what is depression? How would you define and describe it? It is perfectly normal that we all occasionally feel a bit ‘blue’ and fed up but in general these symptoms don’t tend to last long. When a person suffers from depression, the symptoms last for weeks, even months. Some of the symptoms are:
  • Feeling unhappy most of the time,
  • Lacking in energy and motivation,
  • Feeling restless and agitated,
  • Feeling tired,
  • Not wanting to socialise with other people, or
  • Losing interest in life. 

This list is not comprehensive by any means, and you don’t necessarily have to have all of the symptoms. The Royal College of Psychiatrists have published a very useful factsheet on depression which is worth of reading for further information; click here.
But what can you do to improve your mood when feeling depressed? There are certain self-help methods you can do; you can improve your mood by exercising a bit more. This doesn’t mean that you need to spend every evening at the local gym; a short walk around the block can be effective enough when done regularly. Click here for more information on the benefits of exercise. You can also look into changing your eating habits. People who suffer from depression tend to either over-eat or not eat at all; healthy eating will have a positive effect on your mood; click here on tips for healthy eating. It is also worth keeping an eye on your alcohol intake; excessive drinking can worsen your mood because alcohol is a depressant. You can also help yourself by talking to your family members and/or friends, who might be able to help and support you. There are also various helplines which can be useful when feeling low in mood and helpless; see the Links page for further information.
If you feel that these self-help methods are not adequate enough, and your mood doesn’t seem to improve, it might be worth seeing your GP. (S)he will discuss with you other treatment options, such as prescribing an anti-depressant, and/or referring for counselling.
How will counselling help you? Counselling gives you an opportunity to discuss your feelings with someone who understands you, and who doesn’t judge you. Counselling allows you to unravel the issues you have been struggling with, and help you to make sense of them. Counselling will empower you to move forward, and for you to feel stronger.