Depression and anxiety
Throughout our lives, it is inevitable that we will have periods of sadness and anxiety. At what point, however, does this turn into depression?
If you have these feelings for long periods of time and they are beginning to interfere with your daily life (e.g. lack of motivation to undertake regular activities, a want to be alone, high levels of irritation with simple actions, etc.) then it could be that you are depressed.
Depression can range from mild to severe and there are ways of reducing symptoms depending on their severity.
People who are depressed often have high levels of anxiety, with the two feelings going hand in hand. If you are feeling anxious, your mind may be full of busy, repetitive thoughts, which make it hard to concentrate, relax, or sleep. You may have physical symptoms, such as headaches, aching muscles, sweating and dizziness. Anxiety may cause physical exhaustion and general ill health. For both depression and anxiety, there are a number of ways in which you can reduce symptoms. These are presented below.
Do I have depression?
A continuous low mood, a loss of pleasure in most activities, a loss of self esteem, an inability to sleep and a loss of concentration in day to day activities are just some of the symptoms of depression. If you feel that these symptoms apply to you and have been ongoing for a while then it is important to visit your local GP. The Patient Health Questionnaire, which is used by doctors to monitor the severity of depression, can be found online and can help you to self assess your feelings.
What can you do to improve your care?
Alcohol and drugs
There is a strong link between drinking alcohol and depression. When you are feeling down it is tempting to drink alcohol because it “numbs” painful feelings. It can, however, exaggerate some feelings and make you feel angry or aggressive. It can also make you feel more depressed. You don’t have to give up alcohol completely to be emotionally healthy, but avoid drinking more than the recommended limit.
Although drugs can, at the time of consumption, make you feel relaxed and uplifted, in the long term they can cause paranoia, higher levels of anxiety, agitation and depression. Quitting taking drugs or avoiding drugs in the first place is strongly recommended.
If drugs and alcohol has become an addiction for you, local services are available to help you to overcome your addiction. New Hope provides a range of drug and alcohol support services under one roof.
Exercise and healthy eating
In recent years, studies have shown that exercise can help our mental health by giving us control over our bodies. Being physically active lifts your mood, reduces stress and anxiety, boosts the release of endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals) and improves your self-esteem.
Becoming overweight or underweight are both risks associated with depression. 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. A healthy balanced diet is important for maintaining good general health.
Change4life offers a range of tips for staying active and eating a healthy diet. It also helps you to find local activities within Bracknell, from team sports to water sports. These are not age specific and the large range means that there is something for everyone.
If you meet set criteria then you may be eligible for a free referral to Slimming World. Referrals are made via Bracknell Forest GP practices, stop smoking service and children centres. This will enable you to access a free 12-week course to Slimming World if the programme criteria are met. For further information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leisure and social interaction
It is important, if you are feeling anxious or depressed, not to isolate yourself from leisure activities with friends. Social interaction will help you to take your mind off your worries and lift your mood. Talking to friends or family about how you are feeling can help to relieve tension, anxiety and sadness.
If the thought of talking to a close friend or family member worries you then local counselling services are available. These are 100% confidential and you are not judged. Talking Therapies in Berkshire is a friendly and approachable service that helps people with depression, anxiety, panic, phobias, stress and obsessive compulsive disorder. You can refer yourself to Talking Therapies, or ask your GP or healthcare Professional to refer you. This service is for over 18s. Talking treatments on the NHS are free.
Youthline Bracknell is a counseling service set up especially for 8-24 year olds.
The Silver Line is a free and confidential 24 hour helpline for older people who are experiencing loneliness. The specially trained staff offer friendly advice, contact with local social groups, befriending calls and protection for those who are experiencing abuse and neglect.
If you are suffering from a more severe case of depression, there are a range of local services available:
- The Mental Health Crisis Service and Home Treatment team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for people who need urgent support or treatment.
- Prospect Park Hospital is the main hospital in Berkshire for the treatment of mental health illnesses.
- The Bracknell Community Mental Health team is located at Church Hill House in Bracknell. They work with both people with severe and complex mental health difficulties and offer support to carers and family members.
Specialist counseling services
- Relate Bracknell Centre offers specialist counseling for relationship counseling, sex therapy, children and young people’s counseling and family counseling.
- Cruse Bracknell offers bereavement counseling to people of all ages who are struggling to cope with grief from bereavement.
- Victim Support Bracknell offers support for victims and witnesses of crime.
If you feel that you are not ready to talk openly, Bracknell Library runs a book section called ‘books on prescription’. This allows you to do things in your own time and is helpful to those who are not ready to attend counseling.
The Samaritans in Bracknell also offers a confidential 24 hour telephone service for you to talk to someone about any worries or troubles that you have.
Around seven to eight hours is the average amount of sleep an adult needs for their body and mind to fully rest. In order to sleep better at night try to keep to regular sleeping pattern, do not drink too much caffeine, exercise regularly and try to relax before going to bed. This includes activities such as having a bath, listening to music or doing gentle yoga. If you are worrying or feeling anxious when trying to sleep, get up and try undertaking another relaxing activity.
Although smoking is seen as a way to reduce stress, in the long term smoking can cause depression and anxiety to worsen. Nicotine creates an immediate sense of relaxation so people smoke in the belief that it reduces stress and anxiety. This feeling of relaxation is temporary and soon gives way to withdrawal symptoms and increased cravings. Nicotine stimulates the release of the chemical dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is involved in triggering positive feelings. It is often found to be low in people with depression, who may then use smoking as a way of temporarily increasing their dopamine supply. Smoking, however, encourages the brain to switch off its own mechanism for making dopamine, so in the long term the supply decreases, which in turn prompts people to smoke more. Stopping smoking is, therefore, advised.