Depression Awareness Week: More than Just a 'Down Day'
Publish Date: 09/04/2013
More than just a down day?
When we talk about ‘depression’ or ‘feeling depressed’ it can mean different things to different people. Some of us might have lived with depression for years, but may describe it in a different way.
How you describe you you’re feeling is entirely up to you, but to help shed some light on the myths and ‘grey areas’ that surround depression and issues related to it, we’ve taken some handy information from our new mental health guide to help get you started.
We all have down days, but what sets it apart for the 2 in 3 of us (this is thought to be even higher for LGB people) who have depression at some time in our lives is that it can seriously affect our quality of life and symptoms tend to last for at least two weeks. Here are just some of the common symptoms:
· Feeling agitated and restless
· Experiencing feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness
· Changes to sleep, either sleeping too much or very little
· Feeling tired and lethargic
· Being unusually irritable or impatient
· Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
· You may experience physical aches and pains
Or manic depression, as it used to be called, causes extreme mood swings, usually from overactive and excited behaviour (mania) to periods of deep depression, often with stable periods in between the two. Sometimes someone with bipolar might go for months or even years without experiencing one of these mood swings. For some, bipolar disorder can also cause hallucinations (seeing, smelling or hearing things that other people don’t or having unshared beliefs, known as delusions).
There are thought to be 5 different types of bipolar disorder, if you’re interested in reading more about them, the MIND website at www.mind.org.uk has some useful information. The symptoms of depression will be the same as above, but the symptoms of mania include:
· A feeling of euphoria
· Racing thoughts
· Talking and doing things quickly
· Increase in sex drive
· Sleeping very little
· Making plans that are unrealistic or grandiose
For some people, their levels of distress become so painful, that life just doesn’t seem worth living anymore. Common feelings associated with suicidal thoughts can include hopelessness, guilt, shame and even the feeling that people may be better off without you.
Some people have very clear reasons for wanting to end their own lives; for example, they may have experienced a series of traumatic life events, but this isn’t always the case. For others, there may not be any apparent reasons why they are considering suicide, which can further re-enforce feelings of guilt and shame.
If you’re feeling suicidal, you may have noticed yourself becoming more withdrawn and distancing yourself from others. You may be fearful of opening up to people in case what you say scares or worries them, or because you feel they won’t understand. There are people out there who you can talk to, who won’t judge you or dismiss your feelings. You may be at a point where you feel sure that this is what you want, or that it’s the only choice you have left, but things can get better, they can change.
Speaking to your GP
Even if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, you might not be considering hurting yourself. Whether you are or not, your GP will have experience of dealing with these issues and will be able to find you some support. We understand that it can be difficult to reach out to your GP, particularly if you’re feeling vulnerable, so it may help to write things down beforehand for them to read, or to take someone with you for support.
If you need urgent support
If you are in a crisis, whether you’ve harmed yourself or feel like doing so, then you need to go to the A&E department at your local hospital. There you will be able to speak to someone and decide what the best way will be to keep you safe, which may include a stay in hospital.
There are a number of helplines you can contact who offer listening and support to people in distress. If you feel anxious or unable to talk to friends or family, then a helpline can be a useful place to go to for support. Here are a few useful contacts:
Samaritans 0845 7 90 90 90 (24 hours a day, 364 days a year)
Papyrus (for young people) 0800 068 41 41 (Mon-Fri 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm and Weekends 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm)
The Lesbian & Gay Foundation 0845 3 30 30 30 (10am – 10pm 365 days a year)