Depression has been described as the common cold of modern society due to the prevalence rates. Depression is not a respector of class, race , age, gender or sexual orientation. Depression effects 25% of the UK population during their lifetime whilst being a significant financial burden on society due to lost productivity which amounts to 17 billion pounds per year. The World Health Organization anticipates that depression will be the second cause of disability by 2020 and its fourth in disease burden amongst medical and psychiatric disorders.

What exactly is depression as I have discovered from my professional and personal experiences that there are many misconceptions. Depression is a collections of symptoms in which an Individual experiences a depressed mood or loss of pleasure in life. Individuals must also experiences at least four of the following symptoms to receive a diagnosis over a two week period. The signs of depression include significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, insomnia or hyper insomnia nearly every day, agitation , fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive inappropriate guilt, poor concentration, indecisiveness or recurrent thoughts of death and suicidal ideation.

Strategies to combat depression

1. Activity Scheduling – engage in a range of meaningful activities that will enhance your sense of pleasure and achievement as this will elevate your mood and counter the social isolation which tends to be prevalent. What do you enjoy? What have you ceased doing since feeling down? Whats important to you? Align yourself with those activities that will help you to get your mojo back. Reward yourself when achieving these actions as this will positively reinforce the novel behaviour.

2. Be compassionate towards yourself rather than being self critical. How would you treat a friend who is depressed ? I encourage you to treat yourself as you would treat others as you’re important and deserve kindness. What helps you to self soothe?

3. Identify ad reframe negative beliefs about yourself , the world and the future . Don’t accept your thoughts as reality as they are fleeting and the beliefs regarding being a failure will lift when becoming a detective and considering what evidence underpins this.

4. Be Mindful – acknowledge your negative beliefs /emotions and the associated bodily sensations, let go of them and remain present instead of ruminating on past failures and disappointments. Try mindful breathing , the body scan exercise or imagine that your thoughts are snowflakes that dissolve when falling on the ground

5. Exercise more frequently as this releases endorphins that will elevate your mood

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Martina Renaud

Accredited Cognitive Behaviour Therapist