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What does depression mean for you? Is it affecting the quality of your life? Is it there all the time or does it come and go?
These are important questions to consider because there will be different treatment approaches according to your experience. A feeling of ongoing sadness without any periods of lightness or relief is referred to as “clinical depression” and is viewed as an illness with genuine symptoms. These might include a lack of interest in sharing time with family and friends and a generally apathetic attitude towards self-care such that eating, feeding others like children, washing and attending to household tasks are neglected. Sleep may typically be disrupted throughout the night and a person may feel extremely fatigued most of the time. In a relationship, there will be little if any interest in sex and a partner may be left feeling bereft as the depressed partner struggles to engage in any relational activity, possibly feeling hopeless, tearful and in poor physical health.
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Severe depression can also result in a person feeling suicidal and where low mood persists for more than a few days without any relief, it is important to consult a doctor. If you suspect that someone you know is planning suicide, if you have seen evidence of self-harm or noticed an uncharacteristic lifting of mood for example, then it is important to seek professional help immediately whilst also providing reassurance and care.. Severe depression may require medication and may also respond to therapeutic support like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) or DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy). Both these models are examples of counselling talking therapies that can help to improve negative thinking patterns and emotional instability.
Depression in Brighton, Hove and surrounding areas and across the UK in general is reasonably common with 1 in 10 people being affected at some point in their life and many others experience a low mood that is described as depression although it generally lifts after a few days. Perhaps you are suffering with this less persistent low mood for maybe odd days or a few days at a time when your energy seems reduced and you feel flat, unhappy and miserable. I imagine if you are that this is worrying especially if it appears to have come on suddenly, being unexpected and clearly unwanted. You may find that others in your life struggle to understand your mindset which may further exacerbate the situation and leave you feeling lonely and disconnected.
How Hove – based Depression Counselling Can Help
Counselling for depression can be a helpful option to try because you will be able to speak freely about your negative feelings and mindset in a confidential and non-judgemental setting. Talking in itself may help to lift your mood or at least help you to feel more connected to another person. Through the process of therapy, you may uncover potential triggers for your low mood from recent life events such as a loss, job change, birth of a child, increasing age or relationship conflict for example. By working with a counsellor specialising in depression you may discover that therapy provides you with support that enables you to become more effective in managing life difficulties. Even if there is no apparent reason for your low mood, the relationship you develop with your therapist, can help to improve your mindset and increase your overall sense of well-being.
Whether you decide to work with a depression therapist in Brighton and Hove or not, here are some important things you can start today that may help to start shifting a negative mood:
FOOD: Make sure you eat breakfast as well as other regular meals because how and what we eat can significantly affect how we feel. For example, in the morning after the long night without any food, your body needs some fuel to get going but if you are feeling low, this is probably the last thing you reach for. However, even a small amount of the right type of food, can help to stabilise your blood sugar level and consequently your mood. The right type of food would be a little protein, fat and complex carbohydrate, avoiding sugary foods like cereal because whilst they give you a quick energy boost, this is short-lived and can result in fatigue and further flatness. So it is worth planning a few healthy breakfast choices like egg on multi-seeded toast with a little butter or porridge with seeds and stewed fruit. Then it is also important to eat something every 4 to 5 hours throughout the day, a similar mix of protein, fat and complex carbohydrate. You may find it useful to consult a dietician or nutritionist if you are not sure how to improve your diet.
PHYSICAL EXERCISE: This doesn’t necessarily mean going to a local gym in Hove, an exercise class in Brighton, going swimming or going for a run. It means “moving around.” When we are flat and low, we often move less, sitting for a long time in one position or perhaps lying in bed for most of the day. Your body and mind will start to respond positively if you increase your level of movement however small so regardless of how you feel, things may start to shift if you set yourself small challenges like going up and down stairs more, walking around where you live and looking out of any windows. It may further help if you can play music in the background while you move around inside your home and if you feel able, start to venture up the road or take a short trip to a shop.
MIND: We have the ability to think of many, many things as our mind is so powerful. However, when we are “full” of negative thoughts, we can feel bogged down by them and easily attract more and more. Imagine the mind is like a magnet and that once negative thoughts start to build up, there is an imbalance. Just like there would be with a magnet. What the mind needs, is some positive thinking to balance out all the negative charges, so balance can be restored. In what ways can you try to add some positive thoughts to your mind when it is full of negative thoughts?
Here are a few ideas that you might be able to build on… Look at pictures you like, try to recall good memories, look at clothes you like, focus on favourite objects in your house, etc… When a negative thought starts coming to mind, imagine turning away from it and look at something that pleases you to help “push” in some positive charge into your mind. There is a simple skill in DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) that helps the body communicate a sense of positivity to the mind, which you might like to try:
Half Smiling: settle yourself in a chair or standing somewhere or even lying down. Focus on your face and scan over your forehead, eyes, cheeks, nose, mouth and chin. Then take your mind to the corners of your mouth and gently imagine you are turning the corners up, very slightly. This may be hardly noticeable but amazingly it sends a positive message to the mind, just this very simple little action which may also help to start lifting your mood.
Willing Hands: this is another simple skill that sends a positive message to your mind from your body. Stand, sit or ly in a comfortable position and slowly scan your body from your feet, up your legs and torso to your face and head. Then focus on your arms and hands and turn your palms so that they are facing outwards. This simple body language sends a positive signal to mind that you can then build on with other skills like the one above for example.
Mindfulness: by paying attention to your mind, you can use this skill to have more control over negative and positive thoughts. The following is an example of a short practice you may like to try:
Find somewhere quiet to sit or lie and close your eyes
Spend a few minutes scanning your body from your feet to your head and back again.
Then start concentrating on your breathing. Notice the air you breathe in and the air you breathe out. Is the air you breathe in cooler and is the air you breathe out warmer. Stay with your breathing for a while noticing the temperature of the air you breathe in and out.
In your mind, imagine there is a clear blue sky with 2 clouds in your view. One cloud is negative and the other is positive.
Then focus on the thoughts in your mind and maybe there will be feelings and behavioural urges too. Can you picture your thought, feeling or urge floating over to one of the clouds. Take some time doing this and become aware of the balance between the 2 clouds. If the positive cloud seems empty in comparison to the other, what thoughts, feelings or urges can you put into the positive cloud to fill it up.
When you are ready to stop the exercise, use your breathing to come back to being fully conscious in the place that you started.
Notice what you feel like doing at this point. If this is positive do it and if it is negative, replace it with some kind action towards yourself, however small.
Negative mindsets can become stuck unless we take time and put in effort to changing them. The good news is that with practice you can and if you’d like some help with this, then counselling for depression in Brighton and Hove may be a good support for you.
Hove Depression Counselling – Tel: 01273 917732 or contact us here * * *