Depression is a mental health condition that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It can affect anyone of any age, gender, ethnicity or ability.
Wolf, a disabled blogger and traveller living in New Zealand, shares helpful information about depression, its symptoms and how you can manage dark thoughts and gain control of your emotions.
After my first stroke, I studied for a BA in Social Practice with a major in counselling and a Diploma in Community Development. Later I specialised in counselling disabled people because I could relate to sudden change and loss.
Even though there were various disabilities and health conditions mentioned, there was one issue that came up again and again – depression.
There are many different reasons why people experience depression and it is not known exactly how many people suffer from it. The fact is, too many.
The exact figure may never be known because people don’t like to talk about depression or are simply ashamed of it.
Although the last few years have seen a wider acceptance of mental health, there are still many people who feel uncomfortable talking about it.
How do you know if you have depression?
It’s not a matter of only feeling a bit blue but it can be quite debilitating. Many of those symptoms can go either way or differ in severity.
Symptoms of depression
- absence of everything positive
- feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness and possibly thinking everyone hates you
- change in sleeping patterns (too much or not enough sleep, insomnia).
- change in eating habits or loss of appetite (overeating, comfort eating, not enough/regular eating)
- feeling worthless, helpless, irritable or guilty with no hope of ever getting out of it
- no energy and/or feeling tired all the time
- isolating yourself or feeling lonely
- self-loathing. or in more serious cases self-harm or even thoughts about suicide
All these symptoms seem quite obvious when you see them written down. But in reality, they might be difficult to spot.
The onset of depression can be so subtle that it is difficult to notice. There is a lot of frustration around that can be controlled, but it can also easily let you slip into darkness.
If you’re unsure if you have depression, ask a good friend or family member to see if they’ve noticed changes in your mood, behaviour or wellbeing. But be careful whom you talk to. Remember, you need objective feedback not blame.
Managing depression and dark thoughts
Here are a few steps that may help you to manage your depression and stop the dark clouds from gathering above you:
- Look after yourself – other sufferers said that self-care is vital in the management of depression and don’t feel guilty about your condition.
- Put purpose in your life – this might mean finding a hobby or some kind of work, even if it’s voluntary.
- Get into a routine – this helps you to start the day (eg make an effort to get out of bed, make the bed and take a shower each morning).
- Ask for help – people like to help and you are not a burden on anyone.
- Eat healthier and regularly – make it a routine and don’t overeat or have snacks.
- Keep a journal – make a list of your plans/goals and keep track of your success.
- Manage your sleep – sleep if you’re tired and if you struggle to sleep, read a book or do some light stretches or meditation.
Professional support with depression
These are just some ways you can manage depression and gain control of your emotions. However, if it becomes significantly harder or life-threatening, you should talk to a health professional.
Some people need drugs and/or talking therapy to get better. In serious cases, your doctor might even consider Electro Convulsive Therapy (ETC) and I’m told today it’s not as bad as portrayed by Jack Nicolson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.
If you are suffering from depression or other mental health problems, you should seek professional help from your GP ot a psychologist.
Also, have a look at Spokz People, an online mental health platform and wellbeing programme tailored to support disabled people and their families. You can join now for £50 a year or £5 a month membership and get a one-month FREE trial to see how it can help you.
You can find out more about Wolf’s mentoring by visiting his website The Stroke Mentor.
More on Disability Horizons…
- 5 high-profile disabled people share their mental health journeys
- The value of peer support and how it can benefit your wellbeing if you have a disability or health condition
- How to beat the winter blues if you have a disability or health condition
- 8 accessible products to help you enjoy arts and crafts if you have a disability