Counselling for Depression in London
Depression is very common – 1 in 6 of us can expect to experience depression at some point in our life. There are different degrees of depression, ranging in intensity from mild to severe. (see symptoms below)
When you are suffering from mild depression you may feel low, sad or fed up for a while, however, these feelings normally lift. If you are suffering from severe depression you are likely to feel very down and unable to cope with normal activities like going to work or seeing friends. Severe depression is longer lasting. Sometimes you may feel so hopeless that you think of suicide. If you are severely depressed it’s important to seek help. See below.
When you’re depressed, its hard to see a way forward, however depression doesn’t have to blight your life forever, you are not broken, you’re just stuck, Depression Counselling can help you see clearly through the fog, despair and feeling of hopelessness and find clarity and hope.
Get in touch if you’d like a chat about how therapy could help.
If you are feeling desparate or have had thoughts of suicide
If you need some support right now or if you have had thoughts of suicide please talk to someone:
- A good friend or family member.
- Your GP, they treat anything said confidentially and can offer advice.
- Someone you trust and respect: lecturer, religious leader etc.
If you need to talk to someone but don’t want or have anyone close:
- The Samaritans are open 24 hours, seven days a week:
Call 116 123
Specific Samaritan link on wanting to kill yourself: I want to kill myself
If speaking to someone over the phone does not feel right for you, you can make contact via email to: email@example.com
Are you worried about someone who you think is suicidal?
If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. But talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save their life.
If you are looking for advice on how to talk to someone Mind.org have a very helpful page on supporting someone who feels suicidal
Am I depressed and what are the signs?
What is the difference between feeling a bit low and depression? If you’re familiar with the feelings of depression you may already know how you experience it, if not here are some of the signs and symptoms people experience when they are depressed. Depression can be a mix of physical, emotional and cognitive (thinking) experiences, which may vary for different people…
Do you have or feel and of the following?
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts (please seek help)
If you are suffering from a combination of any or several of the above, please give me a call to discuss how we can find a way to help you to uncover what the causes are and find a more satisfying way to live.
What causes depression?
While we don’t know exactly what causes depression, a number of things are often linked to its development. Depression usually results from a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors, rather than one immediate issue or event. While we may experience sadness, outside factors can impact our normal life balance and tip us into a deeper sadness and depression.
Factors such as
- grief, loss of someone significant,
- long term unemployment,
- financial worry,
- living in an abusive or uncaring relationship,
- long term isolation or loneliness
- prolonged work stress
are all possible contributing factors.
It may also be due to how we have been taught to deal with conflict and stress from our family and upbringing. Depression can run in families and therefore some people may be more susceptible to depression.
We may also have formed ourselves to be more at risk of depression, (although this may also be due to our family patterns and behaviour). If we worry a lot, have low self-esteem, are a perfectionist, sensitive to personal criticism, or are self-critical and negative about life we may be more likely to experience depression as we struggle to manage the complex feelings, thoughts and physical effects.
Serious illness in us or others can lead to depression, particularly if we are coping with long term pain management and/or chronic pain.
Finally, if we have a negative relationship with drink, drugs, eating, sexual relationships or any other addictive behaviours, this will work in a negative cycle of low mood, low self-esteem and it can be harder to move out of this negative cycle of thinking and behaviour, which could lead to depression.
Are there different types of depression?
We may experience depression in different ways, or it may be connected to specific circumstances.
You may have:
- SAD – Seasonally Affected Disorder / January Blues / Winter Blues
- Clinical Depression
- Bipolar Depression / Manic Depression
- Postnatal Depression / Baby blues
- Suffered a bereavement or loss
What is SAD (Seasonally Affected Disorder)?
SAD is sometimes known as “winter depression” because the symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter. A few people with SAD may have symptoms during the summer and feel better during the winter.
Symptoms of SAD can include:
- a persistent low mood
- a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
- sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
- craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.
What is ‘Clinical Depression’?
Depression ranges in seriousness from mild, temporary episodes of sadness to severe, persistent depression. Clinical depression is the more-severe form of depression, also known as major depression or major depressive disorder. It isn’t the same as depression caused by a loss, such as the death of a loved one, or a medical condition, such as a thyroid disorder.
To diagnose clinical depression, many doctors use the symptom criteria for major depressive disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Signs and symptoms of clinical depression may include:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
- Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Symptoms are usually severe enough to cause noticeable problems in relationships with others or in day-to-day activities, such as work, school or social activities.
Clinical depression can affect people of any age, including children. However, clinical depression symptoms, even if severe, usually improve with psychological counselling, antidepressant medications or a combination of the two.
What is meant by the term ‘Manic Depression’ (now known as bi-polar)?
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another.
People with bipolar disorder have periods or episodes of:
- depression – feeling very low and lethargic
- mania – feeling very high and overactive (less severe mania is known as hypomania)
Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you’re experiencing. Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer), and some people may not experience a “normal” mood very often.
Depression and Relationships: Counselling for those supporting someone with depression
Depression can make it difficult to maintain supportive and fulfilling relationships.
If your partner is suffering from depression, they may be so overwhelmed by their symptoms that finding the energy to communicate feels impossible.
As a partner or family member, supporting someone with depression can be really draining and upsetting. You might become exhausted with the effort of supporting your depressed partner and also keeping up with running the house, looking after the rest of the family as well as maintaning a career or job.
When supporting someone with depression you may also feel angry, lonely, fed up and hopeless yourself, especially if you’re partner experiences depression on an ongoing basis.
And in turn, the person with depression may begin to feel like a burden – as though they’re simply getting in the way and making the lives of those around them worse. They may be aware of the effects their depression is having on their relationships but feel powerless to do anything about it. This can make them feel guilty and lower their self-esteem even more.
If you are supporting someone with depression, counselling can give you the support that you need. Therpay sessions are a space that you can express your frustrations and be heard without judgment and in complete confidence.
How I will work with you during counselling for depression
As your therapist I will work with you on your depression and help you get to the bottom of the underlying causes by examining the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are contributing to your low mood.
Together we will develop coping strategies to enable you to manage low moods, and you will learn techniques and tools that will be effective for you for the long-run.
Can I have counselling and take anti-depressants?
You may find that anti-depressants may have helped with your low mood, or mood swings, or you are thinking about trying them. You will be speaking to your GP about this decision or may decide you’d like to come off them slowly. Therapy can support you in what you feel is working and will also allow you some space and time to work on the underlying problems.
Counselling and anti-depressants can go together. What is not appropriate is to see more than one therapist at a time. So, if you are currently in talking therapy or CBT, it is required that you finish seeing that therapist before accessing counselling again.
Is there anything I can do to lessen my depression?
Stay in touch with people
Don’t withdraw from life. Socialising can improve your mood. Keeping in touch with friends and family means you have someone to talk to when you feel low. If this is not possible then try other ways to change your outlook by perhaps getting out of your current space e.g. walking to the shops, getting out for a while, or speaking to someone online, all of these could help.
Be more active
There’s evidence that exercise can help lift your mood. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start gently by walking for 20 minutes every day, do some gardening or even just doing something physical inidoors like vacuuming.
Face your fears
Don’t avoid the things you find difficult. When people feel low or anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to other people. Some people can lose their confidence in going out, driving or travelling.
If this starts to happen, facing up to these situations will help them become easier.
Don’t drink too much alcohol or take drugs
For some people, alcohol or drugs can become a problem. Some sufferers of depression use drink or take drugs as a way of coping with or hiding their emotions, or just to fill time. However, alcohol or drugs won’t help solve the problems and could also make the depression worse.
Eat a healthy diet
Some people don’t feel like eating when they’re depressed and are at risk of becoming underweight. Others find comfort in food and can put on excess weight.
Antidepressants can also affect your appetite.
Maintaining a healthy diet helps to keep the body’s systems balanced and can have health benefits too.
If you’re concerned about weight loss, weight gain or how antidepressants are affecting your appetite, talk to your GP.
Have a routine
When people feel down, they can get into poor sleep patterns, staying up late and sleeping during the day. Try to get up at your normal time and stick to your routine as much as possible.
Not having a routine can affect your eating. Try to carry on cooking and eating regular meals.
Depression Counselling in London
If we think about depression as being a type of prolonged sadness then we can explore what might be triggering these feelings of sadness. We may not be able to identify what the ‘trigger’ is for this sadness in our present life, very often the depression we feel is caused by an event that took place earlier in our lives that we have not yet acknowledged but that has surfaced, in our subconscious and triggered our emotions. Depression counselling will explore what you are experiencing and look at practical steps to counter your feelings of sadness and despair.
Part of our therapy session may be to support you in developing a programme of self-care to combat the particular kind of depression you are experiencing and to build resilience against spiralling downwards again when you have recovered.
Some helpful information about depression and depressive behaviour
In this video Stephen Fry talks frankly and openly about his struggles with depression
Mind.org the charity offer helpful advice and guides on managing depression