Depression

Myths about depression

Myths about Depression

Myths about Depression 1103 810 Alisha Gibbons

Depression is a mental illness characterised as having a constant low mood for a prolonged period of time, and this low mood affects an individual’s everyday life and activities. Everyone may feel a bit down every now and again for different reasons, but it is when this low mood does not go away or keeps occurring then it may have started to develop into a more serious problem.

While depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the UK, with 1 in 6 people experiencing it, there are a lot of misconceptions and myths surrounding it. People struggle to fully understand the disorder and what causes it, which in turn leads to the stigma around depression forming. These myths need to be addressed and people given the correct information about depression in order to reduce this stigma, and for depression to be normalised. This would help people suffering feel safer to come forward and get help, and for people to notice signs of depression in loved ones easier. 

Depression isn’t a real illness

Some people wrongly assume that depression isn’t a real illness, saying that people are just sad, not depressed and they are able to stop being sad by choice. This is a very dangerous perception to have. One, it can make people behave in an insensitive manner towards someone who is suffering and two, it can stop someone who is suffering from speaking out and getting help for their depression as they worry about what people will think. 

Depression is an illness recognised by The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the handbook used by healthcare professionals to diagnose people. Therefore it is a real illness which people are diagnosed with and anyone can suffer at any time of their life. 

Medication is the only way to cure Depression

If someone is trying to recover from depression then they may be prescribed medication known as antidepressants by a professional. The aim of these drugs is to alter your brain chemistry and address any biological factors that may be contributing to the disorder. However medication is not the only cure for depression, in fact, many healthcare professionals suggest a more holistic approach to treatment, using a variety of methods such as psychotherapy or counselling. 

Different treatments will work for different people, some people may see results with talking therapy, while someone else with antidepressants. This is why a combination of therapies is the preferred way to treat depression, so people can find out what works for them and increase their chances of recovery. 

If your parents have depression, you will too

It is well known that mental health disorders may be caused by biology and genetics, and that having parents or relatives that have suffered may increase your chances that you will experience the same problems. However mental health disorders and what causes them is complex, they also have environmental and psychological factors and most commonly it is a combination of all these factors that will result in a mental health disorder. Therefore, if your family members suffer it is not certain that you will also. 

If you do suffer from depression and have a family member that has also suffered, this may in fact help you. You will be able to speak to them about your feelings and they will understand much more as they have similar experiences and be able to support each other through the recovery process. 

Depression only affects women

Anyone can suffer from depression, no matter their age, gender or background, therefore men can and do suffer with depression. The reason behind this misconception may be that men aren’t as comfortable discussing their feelings or asking for help as women may be, therefore it may seem like more women suffer but in reality men suffer just as much as women. 

Men may not want to admit they are experiencing depressive symptoms due to social pressures and gender stereotypes. This is dangerous as it has actually been found that men are more likely to have serious consequences to their depression, including self-harm and suicide. 

Men and women may also have different symptoms when both experiencing depression. Men may act out in anger and aggression rather than being sad, and this may mean that their behaviours are dismissed and not considered to be depression.  

While it is getting better, societal attitudes need to change to make male depression and men talking about their emotions more normalised.

Depression is always triggered by trauma

While going through traumatic events or life changes such as losing a loved one, extreme grief or a serious accident can increase the chances of developing depression due to the emotions and hardships they have gone through, it is not always that case that an individual who has experienced trauma will develop depression. Everyone reacts to situations differently and so while some people may develop depression others will work through the event and be able to live life the same as before. 

Furthermore depression can affect anyone at any time, even if everything in someone’s life is seemingly going well, they could still develop depression. Depression is caused by a complex mix of biological, environmental and psychological factors, there is no certainty that someone will develop this disorder.

Everyone experiences depression in the same way

Everyone is different, they live different lifestyles, interests and hobbies, and just like this, everyone will experience depression in different ways. There are a wide range of psychological, emotional and physical symptoms that people may have during a depressive period, and people can experience a range of them at different times. 

Some people may suffer from depression but not experience the most typical symptoms of a low mood and lack of interest in activities, while others may suffer from one particular symptom more severely. Another factor that affects depressive symptoms is age and gender, children and adolescents may have symptoms such as anxiety and irritability much more than reduced mood while men are more likely to show aggression than women. 

As people have different symptoms and experiences of depression this may affect their treatment and their recovery. People may not realise what they are suffering from is depression due to their uncommon symptoms and so never seek the help they need. Therefore more information about the huge variety of symptoms needs to be more widely available. 

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Depression

How to help someone with depression

How to help someone with depression 1024 600 Team Mindsum
Last updated: 14 January 2021

It can be hard knowing that your loved one is suffering from depression. Especially when it is causing problems in their everyday life. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to help. These are discussed below.

Understand depression

It is a good idea to read as much information about depression as you can. It is possible that your loved one does not even know that they are suffering from depression. Understanding depression and how it works will help you to recognize the signs that your loved one needs help.

To read more information on depression, you can view our pages on depression and getting help for depression.

Help them to feel supported

It is common for people with depression to isolate themselves from others. Your attitude towards them can make a difference.

Show acceptance- They might be struggling with very negative thoughts about the world and themselves. For this reason, it is important to show acceptance and remind them that they are loved and valued no matter what.

Give validation- Their low mood might be something that is difficult for you to understand, but it is a real problem for them. Avoid saying things like “just snap out of it”. Acknowledge that this is a rough time for them with an attitude that is non-judgmental and non-critical.

Be persistent- Their lack of interest in doing things or staying in touch might be discouraging to you. It is good to remember that this is due to the symptoms of depression. Keep showing your support to them, even though they might seem uninterested.

Help them to find the right support

Encourage them to find support through a GP or therapist. If this involves your young child, you can contact these services. You might:

  • Help them to search for a therapist

  • Help them to book an appointment with a GP or therapist

  • Offer support when they attend appointments (e.g. waiting in the waiting room or attending some sessions if you need to)

  • Help them search for support groups or self-help resources

  • Encourage them to keep attending sessions and to not give up

  • Give them small reminders to do their homework assigned by the therapist

Know when to get urgent support

When your loved one is dealing with depression, it is good to keep an eye out for signs of self-harm or suicide. If you suspect that your loved one is at risk of hurting themself, you should get them immediate support.

You should contact a GP or the NHS urgent helpline. 

Ask them what they need

They may or may not be able to tell you what they need, but it is always good to ask. They might let you know other ways that you can help them. This way you won’t be burdened with trying to figure it out on your own.

Encourage them to do fun activities

Help them to do more uplifting activities. For example, you might put on a funny movie or take them out to their favourite restaurant. This will allow them to experience positive feelings that will help to fight off the depression.

Encourage them to stay active

Encourage them to stay physically active. This is very important. This might include going for walks, jogs, cycling, going to the gym or a group exercise class. Any activity that gets them moving will help their body to release ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain that will also fight off the depression.

Know what NOT to do

When a loved one is dealing with depression, it is good to be mindful of the things we say and the way we react, as this might affect them. For example, be mindful of:

Not taking the depressive symptoms personally- When a person is depressed, their lack of interest, motivation or irritability might be misunderstood and taken personally by others. Reacting negatively might make your loved one feel guilty and even make the depression worse.

Not calling them lazy- When a person is depressed, they usually experience a lack of motivation. It is important to avoid using hurtful words such as “lazy” to describe them, during this period. It is more useful for you to find ways to help them be more active every day (e.g. inviting them out on a walk).

Don’t tell them to “just think positive”- This is not helpful for a person struggling with depression. This could also make them feel guilty for not being able to think positively. It is more useful to simply listen and try to understand the ways that depression is really a problem for them.

Look after yourself too

It is extremely important for you to look after yourself. Whether you are a parent, family member or a friend, you will be in a better position to give help, as long as you are taking care of your own well-being too.

To read more about looking after yourself, see our page on self-care when helping someone else.

List of useful resources  

MIND
To read information about helping someone with depression on the MIND website, you can click here to access the link.

NHS
To read information about helping someone with depression on the NHS website, you can click here to access the link

For urgent support
To get urgent help, you or your loved one should contact the NHS urgent helpline or the Samaritans

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder 1340 971 Alisha Gibbons

Depression is a mental health disorder characterised by a constant low mood which affects your everyday life and activities. There are many different types of depression and depression can be triggered by many different factors. It is important to understand these different forms of depression so you can understand your mental health more and to make sure you get the best help and information that suits you. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also referred to as SAD, is a type of depression which people find prevalent during certain seasons throughout the year. It is normal to feel low moods or lack of energy during certain seasons or weather, such as winter with its cold temperatures and dark evenings. However, if you find that these feelings are affecting your everyday life and mood drastically, and you notice they only occur at certain times of the year, you could be considered to have Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is important to discuss this mental health issue now as we are going into the winter season and this is the time of year most people notice their symptoms of SAD appear. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder affects 1 in 3 individuals and has been found to be more common for women and young people. 

How do you know if you are suffering from SAD? 
Symptoms include a low mood, lack of energy, sleep problems, irritability, feelings of guilt or hopelessness, a change in your appetite, you may lack interest in hobbies or activities that you usually enjoy and have feelings of isolation. These symptoms can be different for each individual and can sometimes have a significant effect on individuals wellbeing, mental health and everyday life. 

What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder? 
Though the exact cause of SAD has not been concluded, it has been suggested that a main factor is due to the lack of sunlight during winter affecting the production of hormones in the body. The hormone Melatonin may be overproduced in people that suffer from SAD which is the hormone that makes us feel tired, explaining the lack of energy and sleep trouble. Additionally, we find lower levels of the hormone Serotonin which affects our mood, appetite and sleep, again explaining some of the symptoms of SAD. Furthermore, it has also been suggested that some people may be more vulnerable to SAD due to genes. 

How is Seasonal Affective Disorder treated? 
SAD does have some medical ways it can be treated, these include Light Therapy, Talking Therapies and Antidepressants, but it has also been suggested that you may be able to help yourself relieve some symptoms of SAD with small lifestyle changes. Here are some things you can do which can help you during the winter. 

Natural Light: As a reason you may be feeling down in the winter time is due to the lack of sunlight it is good to get as much of it in a day as you can! The easiest way to do this is by taking a walk when you have the opportunity to, this may be in the morning as the sun rises or on your lunch break, this will be a good way to help yourself mentally and physically. If you are working from home or find yourself indoors most of the day, try opening curtains and blinds to let in the light, creating yourself a brighter workspace. Just getting a few more minutes of natural sunlight will lift your mood for the day more than you think.  

Diary: Keep a diary or a journal to track your behaviours. Keeping a diary and writing down how you are feeling most days will help you for multiple reasons, first, you can track your behaviours and potentially find patterns in your behaviour. You may discover what factors make you feel some of the symptoms of SAD, such as upset, stressed or irritated. Knowing what triggers your negative feelings is important as you can then plan coping mechanisms to help you when your trigger appears or make choices in the day which means these triggers will be avoided. Secondly, journaling can improve your mood as for example, you could list 3 things you are excited about that day, 3 things you are grateful for and 3 things you like about yourself. Writing down positive things about your life is a quick and simple thing you can do every day, making your mood instantly lifted and getting your day off to a good start.

Talk to someone: Like most mental health problems the first step to getting help is to reach out and talk to someone. This should be someone you trust like a family member, or if you don’t feel you have someone in your life you can talk to, there are many helplines you can call. If you have SAD you may feel like you want to be alone and isolate yourself, and while this may make you feel comfortable in the short term it will have negative effects long term. Seeing a friend or speaking to someone on the phone will boost your mood, get feelings off your chest and allow you to catch up about one another’s life. Talking is a powerful coping mechanism and should not be underrated. 

Relax: Stress is a very negative emotion and can be caused by lots of things in everyday work or home life. Knowing what relaxes you from this stress is important, especially if you suffer from SAD in the winter time. Take time out for yourself, do things you enjoy and that make you feel calm. This time of year is hard for many people, the nights are darker, the weather is cold and dull, it’s important to enjoy the little things in life and seek joy in the mundane.

Further information and advice:

NHS: Seasonal affective disorder
HelpGuide: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Mind: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Click here to get free advice from our experts

depression

Getting help for depression

Getting help for depression 1200 900 Team Mindsum
Listen to this article (09:31)
Last updated: 4 January 2021

This article covers:

– What types of therapies are involved?

– What types of professionals are involved?

– The journey of recovery from depression

What types of therapies are involved?

Psychological therapies are important when treating depression. It can really help the child or young person to learn the skills to fight off the depressive symptoms. There are different types of therapies that can be involved. These can include but are not limited to: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) and supportive counselling. These will be discussed below.

While other therapies can also be helpful, there is strong research evidence that supports the use of CBT and IPT for treating depression in children and young people.

Cognitive behavioural therapy
CBT is a type of talk-therapy that focuses on how we think and act and how this affects how we feel. CBT can take anywhere between 6-20 sessions, depending on the severity of the depression and the child or young person’s age.

The idea behind CBT with children and young people is that they get to talk about their feelings and learn new skills, which they can use to fight off the depressive symptoms. This all takes place in an environment of safety that the therapist is able to create for the child or young person.

The child or young person will learn how to manage the thoughts and actions that keep the depression going. With a young child, the therapist might focus on these by using stories, games, play and pictures to help the child to engage.  

The therapist always finds it useful to involve other family members in the process of treatment. This is because family members also play a part in influencing the child or young person on a day-to-day basis. So, if the therapist can get the family on board, there are greater chances of success.

Interpersonal psychotherapy
Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a type of talk-therapy that focuses on the child or young person and their relationships, as a way to manage the depression. IPT can take anywhere between 12-16 sessions depending on the severity of the depression and the child or young person’s age.

The idea behind IPT is that relationships are always involved in the course of depression. So by helping relationships to get better, the depression will also get better.

The child or young person will develop an understanding of how their relationships affect the way they feel. They will learn the skills that will help their relationships to improve. These might include communication skills, conflict resolution, problem-solving and other relational skills.

During IPT, the therapist always finds it useful to involve other family members. This is because relationships with family members are the most important relationships in the life of the child or young person. Some session of IPT will involve other family members as well.  

Supportive counselling
Supportive counselling is a type of talk-therapy that focuses mainly on creating a safe space for the child or young person to talk about their difficulties. It is different from the other therapies because it doesn’t follow a set of rules. 

The idea behind supportive counselling is that by simply providing a safe space for the child or young person to talk about and explore their struggles with depression, they will begin to feel better.

The therapist will provide encouragement, reassurance, advice and will mostly listen attentively. The child or young person can feel safe to let out the emotions that they may not be able to express with others. Within this safe space, the therapist will team up with the child or young person to think about helpful ways to move forward.

The therapist might also find it helpful to include other family members, especially if there is a young child involved. Other family members will also discuss ways that they can help the child to get better from depression.

What types of professionals are involved?

There are different professionals that may or may not be involved throughout the treatment process of depression for children and young people. These might include counsellors, psychotherapists, doctors/psychiatrist, mental health nurses, support workers and social workers. These terms might be confusing, but the main difference is in the training that each of these professionals have received. 

In the UK, there is not much of a distinction made between counsellor or psychotherapist. Both of these professionals provide therapy. However, there are some slight differences between these two professional terms. These are outlined below.

Counsellors: Counselling is focused on helping people with what they need right now. Compared to psychotherapists, counsellors tend to have had a shorter training and they help people deal with their issues on a more short-term basis. There may be school-based counsellors available that children and young people can approach at their own school, if they feel they need support with their difficulties. Here at Mindsum, we have counsellors that are available to provide support.

Psychotherapists: Psychotherapy training tends to be longer. Psychotherapists can also give counselling but their approach to talk-therapy is more in-depth, exploring the history and causes of certain behaviours and emotional issues. The psychotherapist will then treat the depression in this specialized way. Here at Mindsum, we have psychotherapists that are available to provide support.

It doesn’t mean that one professional is better than the other. All professionals in this field go through intensive training before they begin to practice. Also, many counsellors seek additional training throughout their careers.

There are also doctors and psychiatrists that can be involved in the treatment of depression for children and young people. There are more obvious differences between these two professional terms.

Doctors: These are professionals that are trained in medicine. This will likely be the family GP, who might find it necessary to prescribe certain medications that might help the depression, especially if the depression is quite severe.

Psychiatrist: These are professionals that are also trained in medicine. However, they also specialized in the field of psychiatry. So they are able to provide consultation and medication for a wide range of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar affective disorder and so on.

Mental health nurses: Nurses trained in mental health might also be involved with the child or young person. If the child or young person is in a hospital setting or is seen by a crisis team due to self-harm or suicide, a mental health nurse might help to give treatment by administering medication.

Support workers: Workers trained in helping vulnerable people to live better lives might also be involved with the child or young person. This might be within a community setting or a crisis situation. Their role is to provide emotional and practical support (e.g. helping parents to cope, helping with paperwork, making child-care arrangements).

Social workers: Workers trained in protecting vulnerable individuals might also be involved with the child or young person. This might also be within a community or a crisis situation. Social workers will problem-solve and organise the right support for the child or the young person to ensure their protection.

The journey of recovery from depression

The journey of recovery from depression can look different for each child or young person and depending on the approach that the counsellor or psychotherapist uses. But there are some things that are expected when going through therapy for depression.

Assessment
This is an important phase, where the counsellor or psychotherapist will get a feel of what is going on with the child or young person. The therapist might try to identify the severity of the depression, along with other important background information. The therapist will ask some questions,  including certain questions about the possibility of self-harm or suicide. This will help to create a full picture of what is going on and to know what type of treatment will be most helpful. 

Therapy sessions
These sessions will take place with a time and regularity that suits the child or young person and their parents. An important aspect of the therapy session is the relationship that the counsellor or psychotherapist will build with the child or young person. This will create a safe space that will encourage them to talk about their feelings. The child will be able to develop a better understanding of their feelings and learn helpful ways to tackle the depression.

Homework 
This can be an important part of treatment for depression, especially when having CBT. This is because depression affects everyday situations in the child or young person’s life. So, homework tasks will really help the child or young person to develop a sense of achievement and mastery over the depression.

Progress and setbacks
When having treatment for depression, there will be progress and there may be setbacks. For example, because of the depression itself, a child or a young person might lack motivation and find it hard to believe that therapy will help. It is important not to feel discouraged when this happens, as these types of setbacks can be quite normal when dealing with depression. These situations provide opportunities to discover new ways to move forward together with the therapist. 

Ending therapy
The counsellor or psychotherapist will eventually prepare the child, young person and parents for the end of therapy. This is a very important phase, because it is vital for the child or young person to become confident in coping with difficult feelings without relying too much on the professional. The end of therapy will take place once the child or young person has made a lot of progress or has completely recovered from depression. The child or young person will leave therapy with many skills that they can use without the help of the therapist.

Follow up
There might be an agreement with the counsellor or psychotherapist to have a follow-up meeting. This is to check how the child or young person is coping. If they are doing well, there will be no need for more support. But if they continue to have challenges with depression or any other issues, this will be an opportunity to have extra support.  

List of useful resources 

Mindsum
To read our information on depression, you can click here to access the link.

Introduction to counselling and psychotherapy
The British Association for the Counselling Professions (BACP) have a useful document on different aspects of therapy. To read more, you can click here to access the link.

Mental health recovery
Mind offers some helpful information on their website on what recovery from a mental illness can look like. You can click here to access the link.

Click here to get free advice from our experts

Mindsum treatment

Mindsum gave me the inspiration and hope

Mindsum gave me the inspiration and hope 2560 1441 Team Mindsum

Most of the people I spoke to in recent months think that depression is another form of sadness. And by experiencing depression daily, I can definitely say, no, it’s not. Depression eats you from inside, and you feel it. It surrounds you from all sides, and you see the world from a thin layer of darkness build by depression. It’s with you day in day out.

In the wake of current coronavirus, my condition became worse. I started having suicidal thoughts that drove me crazy. I was kind of drowning in a sea of emptiness. At times I remained in the bed for several hours and my mom had to really push hard to get me to the dining table. I kept staring the roof of my room. I had the numbness, and it was painful.

Seven months ago, I started exploring possible treatments and therapies. I had some short sessions with a therapist, but it was costing me lots of money. I then started looking at the help from the NHS. I was referred by my GP. However, after 5 weeks, I was told that I’m in the queue so will have to wait till I get my appointment.

This is when I started looking at some charities who can help me. My mom came up with a few suggestions, like Young Minds. However, most of the charities only gave me the information and directed me to some other place where I could possibly get help. I then found Mindsum searching on the internet. I was surprised that Mindsum not only provides the information and tips but also, they booked me a call with one of their experts who was very experienced in dealing with depression. I was then given a plan and offered free weekly sessions to cope with my condition. I believe this is a one-stop shop if you are experiencing a mental health issue.

Depression

Depression

Depression 2000 1331 Team Mindsum
Listen to this article (06:05)
Last updated: 4 January 2021

What is depression?

Causes of depression

The symptoms of depression

Treating depression

List of useful resources

How Mindsum can help?

What is depression?

Depression is when there is a change in the person’s mood, thoughts and behaviour. The changes in mood typically involve a low mood, but in children and young people this also includes an irritable mood.

 

Depression can be mild, moderate or severe. A mild depression might not stop a child or young person from going about their everyday life. But a moderate or severe depression that stops a child from doing their normal activities is a cause for concern.

 

During severe depression, a child or young person might become overwhelmed by feelings of sadness and worthlessness. For this reason, severe depression can make a child or young person feel suicidal. It is important to recognize these signs so that the right support can be given early on to prevent serious harm.

 

Causes of depression

The cause of depression in children and young people can include a combination of different factors. Here are some factors to consider:

  • A history of depression in the family

  • Conflict or violence at home

  • Pressures at home or at school (e.g. having to take care of a sick relative or having many exams)

  • Big life changes (e.g. parent separation, death of loved one)

  • Trauma, physical or sexual abuse

  • Bullying

  • Chronic illness (e.g. diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, irritable bowel syndrome)

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