Depression isn’t a one-size-fits-all illness. Just like a rash or heart disease, depression can take many forms. There are a number of symptoms that are normally present, but one person’s experience of depression often differs from another’s. In its mildest form, depression can mean just being in low spirits. It doesn’t stop you from going on with your normal life but it makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. Psychologists in Nairobi offer services that can help deal with depression, for example Intrapersonal health.
Depression has many possible causes, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, medications, and medical problems. It’s believed that several of these factors interact to bring on depression. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening. It can make you feel suicidal or simply give up on life. In this case, it is advised to seek professional help.
We all have times when our mood is low, and we’re feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually these feelings eventually pass, but if the feelings persist and interfere with your daily life, or if they come back over and over again for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing depression.
If you are given a diagnosis of depression, you might be told that you have mild, moderate or severe depression. This describes what sort of impact your symptoms are having on you currently, and what sort of treatment you’re likely to be offered.
Types of depression:
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – depression that usually (but not always) occurs in the winter.
- Dysthymia – continuous mild depression that lasts for two years or more. Also, called persistent depressive disorder or chronic depression.
- Prenatal depression – sometimes also called antenatal depression, it occurs during pregnancy.
- Postnatal depression (PND) – occurs in the weeks and months after becoming a parent. Postnatal depression is usually diagnosed in women but it can affect men too.
What Causes Depression?
There are several ideas about what causes depression. It varies a lot between different people, and for some people a combination of different factors may cause their depression. Some find that they become depressed without any obvious reason. The following are possible causes of depression:
- childhood experiences
- life events
- other mental health problems
- physical health problems
- genetic inheritance
- medication, drugs and alcohol
- sleep, diet and exercise.
How can I look after myself? Experiencing depression can make it hard to find the energy to look after yourself. But taking an active role in your treatment, and taking the initiative to help yourself cope with your experiences, can make a big difference to how you feel. Here are some things you can try:
- Get good sleep. For lots of people who experience depression, sleeping too little or too much can be a daily problem. Getting good sleep can help to improve your mood and increase your energy levels.
- Eat well. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help you feel well, think clearly and increase your energy levels.
- Keep active. Many people find exercise a challenge but gentle activities like yoga, swimming or walking can be a big boost to your mood. Cycling and taking long walks can help.
- Look after your hygiene. When you’re experiencing depression, it’s easy for hygiene to not feel like a priority. But small things, like taking a shower and getting fully dressed whether or not you’re going out of the house, can make a big difference to how you feel.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. While you might want to use drugs or alcohol to cope with any difficult feelings, in the long run they can make you feel a lot worse.
- List down activities that make you happy. Try making a list of activities, people and places that make you happy or feel good. Then make a list of what you do every day. It probably won’t be possible to include all the things that make you happy but try to find ways to bring those things into your daily routine.
- Treat yourself. When you’re feeling down, it can be hard to feel good about yourself. Try to do at least one positive thing for yourself every day. This could be taking the time for a long bath, spending time with a pet or reading your favorite book. Soothing yourself is so important, considering you spend a lot of time in a battle with your own thoughts.
- Be kind to yourself. None of us achieve all our goals. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do something you planned to, or find yourself feeling worse again. Be kind to yourself. If you need ‘me time’, give it to yourself. You are worth it!
- Try new things. Trying something new, like starting a new hobby, learning something new or even trying new food, can help boost your mood and break unhelpful patterns of thinking and behavior.
- Set realistic goals. Try to set yourself achievable goals, like getting dressed every day or cooking yourself a meal. Achieving your goals can help you feel good and boost your self-confidence, and help you move on to bigger ones.
- Keep a mood diary. This can help you keep track of any changes in your mood, and you might find that you have more good days than you think. It can also help you notice if any activities, places or people make you feel better or worse.
- Challenge your thinking. Avoid negative thinking. Make a list of things that give you a negative vibe or make you feel depressed, what you can change and how you can change them.
Contact a helpline. If you’re struggling with difficult feelings, and you can’t talk to someone you know, there are many helplines you can contact. These are professional counseling services with professionals you can speak to who are trained to listen and could help you feel more able to cope with your low mood. Intrapersonal health could be a good place to start.
The goal of Intrapersonal health(IPT) is to help you solve relationship problems, such as problems with your family, friends and co-workers. IPT has been found to be most helpful for improving communication and conflict resolution and/or increasing problem-solving skills.
During IPT your mental health provider will:
- Help improve your communication and problem-solving skills
- Help you to learn better ways of responding to situations that tend to result in feelings of depression.
- Help you to learn new and better ways of relating to others.
Psychologists in Nairobi use intrapersonal therapy which typically provides 16–20 sessions.