While statistics say depression affects one in four people, in real terms it affects every person. One in four people may get medical help while the others will mull their way through it.
From eighteen years of counselling, I find equal numbers of men and women experience depression. Women are more likely to seek help. Men tend to think they don’t have a problem as it is a weakness if they do. They often see themselves as a failure because they are not strong enough to mentally deal with it. They may worry what their mates will think. If they do acknowledge they have a problem, they will hope it will go away, someone will fix it or they should know how to fix it.
There are many definitions of depression. Mine is simple:
Depression is having a problem with no solution.
As soon as you have a problem with no solution, you begin to go in circles. It’s like a dog chasing it’s tail, hitting your head against a brick wall, going no-where. When there are no solutions, you reach a point where you begin to spiral downwards and can eventually think you are entering a “black hole”.
When there are no solutions, you think negative thoughts. The more you focus on the negative, the worse things become.
Depression can be bought on by having one problem or many. For example:
(i) If you are in a relationship and your partner leaves you. While you want them back, they are not coming back. You may feel you can’t live without them and depression sets in as you feel a sense of hopelessness.
(ii) A loved one dies.
(iii) Losing your job or a business.
(iv) Having a medical condition where you are unable to get better.
(v) Being in a situation where your needs are not being met.
(vi) Many people I consult have no idea why they are feeling depressed. On asking what is going wrong in life, where are they experiencing problems, a common reply is “My husband is never home to help with the children, I have a boss at work who is giving me a hard time, the children are misbehaving and I have trouble disciplining them and I have had the flu for 3 weeks and can’t get rid of it”. All of these frustrations are accumulative and the less they are able to cope, the worse things get, the deeper the depression.
(vii) Many mothers suffer from post natal depression. This is having a problem with no solution. There are many causes. Some feel they are unable to cope with a new baby. They may feel they are not a good mother. Others have trouble giving up their freedom, work or financial independence.
(viii) Poor self esteem or a lack of confidence.
(ix) Placing much pressure and expectation on yourself to perform when you are not performing. Many elite sports people become depressed when they start losing or lose form. They then put much pressure on themselves to get their form back. When it doesn’t work, they start to spiral as their happiness is based on their performance. During the drought, many farmers saw themselves as the head (and money earner) of the family. Because income was nearly non-existent, they saw themselves as a failure and letting their family down. The higher their expectation to provide, the greater the depression.
As depression is having a problem with no solution, symptoms can include:
✓ A feeling of hopelessness or not coping.
✓ Problems sleeping or can’t/don’t want to get out of bed.
✓ Want to stay home all the time and keep to yourself.
✓ May feel scared to be left alone.
✓ Feeling exhausted with no energy.
✓ Magnify insignificant events.
✓ May not eat or “comfort eat” to excess.
✓ May resort to alcohol or drugs.
✓ May do reckless things.
✓ Have no confidence and may feel others are judging you.
✓ Feel a failure or burden to others.
✓ The smallest tasks may seem impossible.
✓ Spending much time thinking about what has gone wrong and how it will affect you.
✓ Continually think about what is wrong with you.
✓ May be more critical of others and what is happening in life.
✓ May feel you are a failure.
✓ Feel like life is “passing you by” and is unfair.
✓ You may eventually reach a point where you see no future, no hope and feel things will only get worse. This will often lead you to thinking life is too hard and is not worth living.
The worse you feel, the more negative your thinking becomes, the lower you emotionally go. The longer you have it, the harder it often becomes to change as it is easy for you to live feeling this way.
Feel depressed for long enough and you can end up with a chemical imbalance. Imagine your body to be like a car. If you place it under stress by “flogging” it, it will use a lot fuel. Your body uses a lot of vitamins and minerals when it is stressed. If these are not replaced, you can end up with a deficiency (or chemical imbalance).
The following are some of the many solutions available to you:
1. Seek Medical Help
A doctor will often prescribe an anti-depressant which has the function of making you feel better. This is often a good place to start, however, while you are feeling better, it is important to deal with your problems. Failure to do so often means (i) you continue to stay on the medication, (ii) the problem becomes worse so you will need stronger medication to help you feel better, and/or (iii) you can become dependent on the drug to overcome the problem and make you feel better.
2. Get Your Diet Right
When you are depressed, it is easy to consume sugar-based products. Sugar gives you a “high” so you feel better. Women often go to chocolates while men go to alcohol.
Again, failure to deal with the cause of your problem can mean you become hooked on eating sugar-based products to give you a high. The downside of eating sugar-based products is they can give you “highs” and “lows” – which means another problem to deal with.
Quite often I consult with someone who is very depressed and have not eaten anything for three days plus or have only eaten sugar-based products. Their thinking has been so scattered that they have had trouble concentrating, trouble understanding what I am saying and trouble remembering anything I say. To treat them effectively, I first have to get them eating healthy foods and supplement with vitamins and minerals.
If you are feeling down, ensure you eat and eat healthy. This will give you the best chance of dealing with your problems with a clear head. If you are eating healthy and still feeling emotionally down, it may pay to consult your health food store, a naturopath or someone who is qualified to instruct you on what vitamins and minerals to take.
Exercise serves many important functions, two of which are (i) it releases “good feel” chemicals which helps you feel better, and (ii) helps get your mind off your problems for a period of time.
Select an exercise you can sustain and enjoy doing it.
If you exercise with others, you may be associating with positive people and this can help you to feel more positive. Other things that can help overcome depression are meditation and yoga. The best way to learn is to attend classes conducted by a professional. If you are unable to do this or choose not to, purchase a dvd or video and learn how to do it yourself.
4. Get Your Physiology Right
Your physiology is the way you hold yourself.
Here’s an exercise to do:
Walk around the room feeling totally depressed. Note how you feel, where your eyes are looking, how your body is shaped – shoulders forward and pointing down. Steps are slow and you have trouble lifting your feet.
Sit and feel depressed. You’ll notice the same things – head down, shoulders forward and pointing down. You may even have one or both hands on your forehead with elbows resting on your knees.
Now walk around the room like someone who istotally confident. Even exaggerate it. Note how you feel. Note your posture. Your eyes should be looking up, shoulders back, head back, steps quicker and walking with more purpose.
Sit like a confident person. You should notice the same as above.
Now, whilst standing, maintain your confident pose and walk around the room. Head back, shoulders back, eyes up. While in this state, try and feel depressed.
How’s it going?
You can’t do it. To feel depressed you need to have a certain pose. To feel confident, you need to have a certain pose.
Every time you would like to feel confident, create the confident pose.
Results are instant.Having tried all the above, I also urge you to …
5. Deal With the Problem
As depression is having a problem with no solution, it is essential to deal with the problem.
There are two ways of doing this:
(i) Prevention. The old saying “Prevention is better than cure” holds true. You are better learning how to deal with problems before they arise than after. Most people think they know how to deal with any possible problems until they occur, then they find they don’t know. It is much harder to pick up the pieces and try and make things right than to learn how to deal with it before it falls apart.
(ii) Fixing the Problem. To do that:
Step 1: Identify you are feeling depressed. This means getting honest with you. Two things can stop you from achieving this – denial (“there’s nothing wrong with me”) and blame (“it’s their fault”).
Step 2: Identify the cause of the problem. What are the problems you are experiencing that do not have a solution? Again, get honest with yourself. If you have problems identifying them, seek professional help.
Step 3: If you have identified more than one problem, isolate each problem and …
Step 4: Deal with it so you have peace of mind. This may involve getting your thinking to be positive and focusing on the positive to what is happening in your life. Ask yourself:
What is something positive to come from this?
How can I make this situation work for me?
What can I learn from this to make me a better person?
For example, if your relationship has broken up, ask the above questions and deal with the rejection, the anger, the life change, the loneliness and the unknown.
If someone has died, are you focusing on what you are missing or the good memories and how lucky you have been to know this person and have them in your life for the time they were there?
If you are stuck with a job you dislike, either look for a new one (with a positive attitude) or focus on how you can improve this one or the positives you can receive from it.
If you are having problems, seek professional help or read a relevant book, listen to a cd, watch a DVD or attend a seminar.
After my girlfriend told me our relationship was over because she had found another man, I was totally devastated, depressed and constantly thought life was not worth living. I wanted her back but she was happy with this new man in her life. I felt there was a void in my life and needed her to fill it. I didn’t want to socialise, became tired and began doing reckless things.
After two years of not being able to get this lady out of my thoughts, I decided to get professional help and began doing courses to learn as much about myself as I could. From what I learnt and discovered for myself, I came to the realisation people did not reject me, rather, I chose to feel rejected because I depended totally on them for how I felt. I learnt to depend on myself and learnt as much as I could about what it takes to make a relationship “magical”.
I have now been in a relationship with my wife, Julie, for 23 years and it is as good today as the day we met. Just as I have learnt to overcome my problems and enjoy success, so can you. Make the commitment to learn as much about yourself as you can. After 18 years of counselling people, I am yet to find a problem that does not have a solution.
Learn to be your best. You deserve it.
Like to Know More?
If you would like to know more on how to begin dealing with your depression, you can:
(i) Make an appointment. You can consult with me in person or have a telephone/skype consultation. To consult with me in person, you can either phone Julie on 02 6921 6373 (International +61 2 6921 6373) to secure a time or e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org
(iii) Read “Dealing With Depression” on Amazon.
Phone: 02 6921 6373 Email: email@example.com Address: P.O. Box 2421, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650 Australia