Counsellor Sarah Barr explains how depression can affect women and why there is no shame in asking for help.
“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced…it’s that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sadness hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It’s a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different”. – J.K. Rowling.
Feeling sad is a normal reaction to difficult times we face in our life. This sadness we feel usually goes away with a little time.
Depression is different.
Depression is a medical condition that can cause severe symptoms. These symptoms affect how you feel, think and behave. They impact on how you deal with daily activities, such as eating, working or sleeping.
Depression is believed to be more common in women than men. This is due to biological, hormonal and social factors which are unique to women.
You can’t just ‘snap out’ of depression.
Sometimes friends or family members mean well when they tell you to “snap out of it” , “just be positive” or “what have you got to be sad about”.
Yet depression is NOT a sign of weakness or a personality flaw.
Most people who experience depression need treatment to get better they can’t just “snap out of it”.
If you think you have depression, make an appointment to speak to your doctor or contact a counsellor.
Depression can hurt.
Sadness is only a small part of depression. There are physical symptoms to depression.
These can include aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems.
If you are experiencing any of the below symptoms for more than two weeks, you may have depression:
- A persistent feeling of sadness or anxiousness
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- A loss of interest in hobbies and activities
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Changes in your appetite or weight
- Thoughts around death or suicide or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause that do not ease with treatment
Please believe me when I say it is important to talk to your doctor about these symptoms. It is important to be honest. You will not be judged or seen as weak by doing so.
Certain types of depression are unique to women.
Being pregnant is not always easy, and there is no shame in saying so.
Pregnancy can often bring morning sickness, weight gain and mood swings. Not to mention changes to your relationship, confidence and an increase in worry.
When your baby does arrive it can sometimes be a challenging time for a lot of us. Many new mums experience “baby blues”, which describes feelings of worry, unhappiness, mood swings and tiredness. These feelings usually last a couple of weeks and go away.
But what if they don’t go away? Or you start feeling this way after the fourth/sixth/eight months into motherhood.
Post-natal depression is described as a depression after pregnancy. This depression can bring along feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety and exhaustion.
It is so important if you feel like this to talk to a friend, your partner, a family member, counsellor or doctor.
There is NO SHAME in doing so and it definitely does NOT mean you are a “bad” mum.
Perimenopause is a normal phase in a woman’s life as they transition towards menopause.
This transition can be challenging, especially for women with a history of depression. If you are struggling with anxiety, irritability, sadness and a loss of interest in what you enjoy doing you may be experiencing perimenopausal depression.
Again it is advised to speak to your doctor as he/she will be able to diagnose and help treat how you are feeling.
“Depression affects each woman differently.”
We are all different and unique and experience everything differently. Some women may only experience a few symptoms of depression and some will experience more. The severity and frequency and how long they last also varies in every woman.
Depression can be treated.
You are not stuck. You do not have to feel this way forever. Depression can be treated.
Depression can be treated with medication and counselling.
It is believed that antidepressants work by increasing the level of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin can improve your mood.
Anti-depressants can treat the symptoms of depression, they are taken daily usually in a tablet form. They are prescribed from your doctor, and it is suggested to take daily for seven days before the benefit is felt. If and when you feel you are ready to come of anti-depressants the doctor will slowly wean you of the medication.
Counselling is a talk therapy. Counselling can help you deal with the cause of depression and discuss ways of overcoming it in a safe space. Often anti-depressants and counselling are usually recommended together.
Depression can be such an isolating illness. It can make you feel like you are a burden to others and that it will never get better. But you are not a burden and it can get better.
People are still sometimes afraid to mention the “D” word for fear of being judged or stigmatised.
Depression is not a bad word. We should not be afraid to say it.
If you would like to talk I can be contacted on 086447787 or through my facebook page facebook.com/NewBeginningsCounsellingService