From time to time, we all feel completely overwhelmed. We don’t even need to have a crisis to reach that point – it just seems to happen.
Suddenly we feel tired all the time and everything seems pointless – going out with friends, eating foods we used to love and doing things we used to enjoy – nothing brings us pleasure.
If this is happening to you and it’s been going on for weeks or longer, you may have depression. It happens to lots of people, but if you get help early enough, you will recover completely.
Depression is very different to unhappiness
If you’re just feeling a bit flat, then talking to a friend, watching something funny or getting a warm hug will often lift your mood, but none of these will help you if you are feeling depressed. In fact, they can make you feel even worse because you also feel guilty and ashamed that you can’t respond in a positive way.
Some people become depressed after a traumatic event, a long period of anxiety, or negative early life experiences (though they can be unaware that these contributed to it). Others are predisposed to chemical changes in their bodies that contribute to depression.
Whatever the cause, depression is a huge chemical change that affects your sleep, appetite, libido, memory and concentration, and you will need help to set the chemistry straight again.
What can you do?
Whatever you do, please don’t ignore it and hope it will go away. The longer you delay getting help for depression, the harder it is to treat.
- Talk to a friend or relative and tell them how you’ve been feeling. Just saying it out loud can help you get clear about what you are experiencing and what you need to do.
- Call or chat on line with a qualified youth counsellor at eheadspace (1800 650 890). They know what you’re going through (9am–1am 7 days).
- Don’t put yourself under extra stress by taking on extra responsibilities.
- Practise a gentle relaxation technique like this one: Lie down on your back somewhere comfortable, and take slow, deep breaths. Focus your attention on your toes, feeling the muscles relax. Then move your attention to your arches, heels, ankles, calves and so on, all the way up to the top of your head. By bringing your awareness to your body, your mind can shift away from its negative thoughts.
- Try free online cognitive behavioural therapy for depression such as MoodGYM (run by the Australian National University) or My Compass (run by the Black Dog Institute).