Freddie Strasser (2005), writes about sadness and depression, “When sadness arrives at an extreme point in one’s life, when life becomes meaningless and there is no hope of regaining one’s self esteem, then depression may ensue. Meaninglessness is a void that goes beyond sadness when an individual loses all hope.”
In this quote, Strasser helps us to differentiate between sadness and depression. As human beings, sadness is a common emotion we can feel from time to time. When things do not work out the way we expect or hope, sadness is a natural feeling. We may be feeling let down by others or by ourselves. Depression, though, is more intense; it is a hopeless, helpless feeling of not having any energy to exert oneself to be able to even make the smallest change in one’s life.
How does one start to make the changes needed to help themselves through depression? I believe the first step is to consult with your medical doctor. Are you suffering with clinical depression? Do you need antidepressants or anti anxiety medication? Is there an option to start natural remedies first? Do you need to be referred to a psychologist for an evaluation? All of these questions need to be answered by your medical doctor in order to assess your starting point and any further referrals you may need.
Once the medical side is taken care of, you may want to consider starting talking therapy. Psychotherapy and counselling is very helpful for people suffering with depression. The therapist provides a safe non judgemental space to be able to acknowledge your issues and work through them. All therapists work differently due to their training and experience, so please make sure to check their qualifications and experience at the beginning of your work together. It is vital that you feel safe, respected and cared about in therapy, and you will feel that by the end of the first session. If you do not feel this way then please do leave and find another therapist.
When suffering with depression, everything feels too much and you may want to curl into the fetal position and go to bed. Sleep is an anaesthetic and so it feels very inviting. The opposite from staying still is movement. A lot of research has taken place about the link between exercise benefits and depression. Windy Dryden and Jack Gordon (2000) write, “Some activity is good for you: action forces you to interrupt the flow of depression – sustaining ideas such as ‘no one cares how i feel’.”
When feeling depressed you may feel insecure, and a sense of despair may be hovering over you. I would recommend you eliminate as much pressure around you as possible. Perhaps taking some time off work may be helpful. You should talk this option through with your manager and medical doctor to see what is best for you. As each person is in a different situation, it is impossible to give a one size fits all answer. For some, remaining in work but reducing hours may feel better.
Listening to your body when depressed is very important. If you feel the overwhelming need to sleep, then give yourself permission to sleep during the day at times. Try to balance it out with taking in some fresh air and exercising gently (for example walking around your block and then going to sleep for half an hour).
Dryden, W and Gordon, J (2000) Think your way to happiness. Sheldon Press
Aviva Keren Barnett (PgD, M.A ) is a UKCP registered existential psychotherapist and counselor. Aviva holds a Master of Arts in Existential Psychotherapy and Counselling. Aviva, a very passionate therapist, works with individuals on a private basis.