Coping with depression
A 2002 report published by the Canadian Mental Health Association showed that two-thirds of Canadians have had experience with depression or anxiety. A startling 36% have experienced it firsthand. The report showed that people in Alberta and British Columbia were more likely to suffer from depression than those in other provinces.
So what is depression, and why does it affect so many Canadians? Depression is a medical term, although it has come to be used to generalize a passing negative state of mind. It is part of a subset of mood disorders, which includes bipolar disorder, post-partum depression, and psychosis. While research suggests that women might be more predisposed to depression, there is no single factor which can be identified as causing it.
Depression can manifest itself in the following symptoms:
· Feelings of sadness and loss
· Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
· Loss of temper
· Loss of interest in surroundings
· Changes in weight, diet, and sleeping patterns
· Constant feelings of tiredness, anxiety, and restlessness
· Physical symptoms such as aches and pain in the joints and headaches
While biological and psychological factors play an important role in depression, isolation, lack of familial support and economic and social stress can contribute to the development of mental illnesses. Immigrants are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression than people born in Canada for the very reasons listed above, according to an article published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Similarly studies show that First Nations people experience major depression at twice the national average.
The good news is that depression can be beat and the first step is to acknowledge you need help. If you are uncomfortable visiting your regular practitioner, a registered social worker or counsellor is qualified to offer advice. Most counsellors will use different therapies appropriate for the illness, including solution-based remedies found in cognitive behaviour therapy, strengths based counselling, and psychosocial rehabilitation.
The key to moving forward is finding the right treatment for you. This is often accomplished by face-to-face counselling, or using a combination of treatments. Depression counselling also provides support when feelings of sadness, anxiety, and unhappiness arise. Another important aspect is learning to recognize the symptoms and onset of depression and possessing the tools to combat it early. Regular counselling sessions can be effective in producing long lasting results. A counsellor can also help you connect with appropriate support groups.
In cases of severe symptoms or suicidal thoughts, or where medication is required, it’s best to seek the help of a psychiatrist of if your in a crisis situation to go to your nearest hospital emergency.
Further suggested reading: Health Canada, A Report on Mental Illness, 2002
Alex Sangha is a counsellor in private practice based in North Delta. For further information check out http://thesuburbantherapist.com