Many people experience an episode of what we call depression at least once in their lives. As a matter of face, research shows that half of North Americans will experience at least one episode of depression in their lifetime. And while there are similarities with people’s experiences of it there can be some differences.
Many experiences can lead to feelings of depression. The death of a loved one, changes at work, birth of a child, or feeling overwhelmed and stressed over a period of time or any number of other reasons. Feelings of depression are perfectly normal but do need to be addressed before becoming more severe. In my opinion, feelings of depression are the body’s way in its own wisdom to protect itself. So the presence of depression is not inherently bad but it is a signal to the person that something needs to be addressed. Its like the dashboard light on your car. It tells you the system needs to be worked on.
Depression can be classified as mild, moderate or severe and can be either situational (like after the death of a loved one or unanticipated changes at work) or something more long term that comes and goes. Common symptoms include increased (or decreased) appetite, insomnia or fatigue, inability to focus or concentrate, bouts of crying, thoughts that others would be better off if you weren’t alive and a decrease in enjoyment with activities that once use to bring joy or excitement. People who experience depression can tend to feel hopeless or powerless to change their circumstances and that it will “always be this way.”
Depression can also look different with men. While the above symptoms may be present, men can also have a tendency to have angry outbursts (like road rage) and an increased tendency to risky behaviour like dangerous driving or engaging in risky sexual behaviour (like having intercourse without protection).
There are several ways to address depression, most notably Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and/or mindfulness techniques. The main premise behind CBT is that our thoughts lead to how we feel which leads to our behaviour and that if our thoughts tend to be negative, our behaviour tends to be negative which then reinforces our negative thinking. The outcome with CBT then is to identify and reframe negative thinking to something positive (or believable) as an alternative so that we can restore a sense of personal power and control over our lives.
There are several options available to address depression. You can reach out to your local Mental Health Office, register for the Bounce Back program through the Canadian Mental Health Association or contact Oakhill Counselling & Mediation Services to speak with one of our qualified professionals.