This is the 19th in a series of blogs, using answers I provided to pass Mental Health qualifications.  This blog continues with how depression affects people. 

The next series of blogs will be continuing on how depression affects people and the different types of depression.

As with many mental health subjects, they can all be massive topics with reams of books written on them.  I will aim to break depression down into 4 easy to read blogs, describing possible causes, different types of depression, how depression can affect individuals and the people around them, and how they can be treated and managed. 

I strongly believe there is no one-size-fits all approach to managing any kind of mental health condition. It is the main reason why I am not a massive advocate of medication.  I prefer to consider natural, healthy ways to recognise and manage any kind of mental ill health, tailoring each treatment and therapy to suit each individual. I do this from experience.  It is what helped me which is why I believe it can help others too.

How depression affects people:
In this series of blogs, the aims are to explore and show understanding of how depression can affect the individual, through symptoms and behaviours, the potential impact on their lives and the implications for people around them.  

I have centred on the feelings someone might have when experiencing depression, both physical and psychological symptoms.   The aim is to give an insight of situations in life, where depression and the feelings that come with it will affect an individual’s ability to cope. This including attention to personal care, difficulties being organised and lack of focus and concentration.

The ripple effect is further considered, including a range of feelings, leading to potential isolation and further worsening of someone’s symptoms. 

I feel it is important to highlight that family members might avoid the person with depression, because of lack of understanding, and this will impact negatively on the person’s already low self-esteem.  I aim to highlight the potential impact on children and the role of social services. But this could be a double-edged sword, as people feel they might have their children taken away. Someone who is depressed will likely leap to the worst-case scenario and less likely to ask for help. 

Prevention of this cycle is the about raising awareness, and be able to start a conversation so that everyone has access to the information they need.

The feelings an individual may have when experiencing depression:

Although not everyone will have all of the feelings, all of the time, some feelings can be described as:
Feeling worthless. When life is seemingly difficult and even small tasks and chores seem exhausting, feelings of worthlessness can become apparent. This can also be due to people feeling they are letting others down such as family and work colleagues.
This can lead to feelings of guilt and being useless but the lack of ability to rectify this can lead to;
Feelings of hopelessness of not being able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Constantly feeling exhausted and not being able to make the change needed.
There are the feelings of regular, if not constant, sadness and lack of ability to experiencing joy and happiness.
With the inability to see a way forward with all of these, the person may feel suicidal as the way to make it all end and go away, to stop feeling like a burden.

Examples of how depression may affect an individual and their life:

Having depression can be exhausting. Sometimes it is a real fight just to get through the day, with some of the simplest tasks taking all the energy a person has.
Feeling fatigued, tired and exhausted can make it difficult to even sleep well and get out of bed in the mornings. This can impact on a person’s working day, whether that’s paid work, voluntary work or being an at home parent. This could result in getting up late and so starting the day late, which can cause further stress to not only the depressed person but any others in the household too. The impact on the rest of the day could start off so badly that the person may think it is really not worth the hassle and stress and may just want to abandon the day and go back to bed. 

If the person is working, this means they could phone in sick, potentially causing more work related problems and even grievance and disciplinary procedures, causing further stress and causes for depression.
If the person does decide to work, but they have arrived late, they may not have properly washed/showered/got ready for work as they may also start to lose care in their appearance. Depending on the level of personal hygiene required for work, this could also cause more work-related concerns,
If the person does go to work, their moods and general feeling of tiredness or fatigue could mean they are unable to concentrate or stay focused on the job. Mistakes could happen, tempers can fray and relationships with work colleagues may become strained. All this potential stress and the anxiety of worrying about these kind of days, could result in the person in missing more days off work, potentially losing their job, causing more stress and cause for depression.

Sometimes, not having a reason to get up, like family or work, the person may spend more time in bed, or not going out at all. This means they will feel they do not have a reason to get washed and dressed, resulting in them potentially losing more and more interest in looking after themselves. This could lead to not bothering to eat well and the issue of lack of nutrition and large amounts of weight loss, or gain, may appear, potentially causing more self-esteem and confidence issues and giving more reason for the person to not care about their health and hygiene, all which may cause isolation or worsening isolation.
There are many, many more examples of how depression can affect the person and their lives.

How an individual’s depression may affect others:   

Relationships with others can become strained and may even break down. These relationships can be with family, friends and work colleagues. A lot of this can be caused by the other people having little, or no understanding how the depressed person is feeling, and may not even know they have mental ill-health if the person has not spoken about it.
If the depressed person is not looking after dependants as well as they could be, this can cause further concerns for social services if children are suffering, for instance and more problems with other members of the family. Other family members may try and understand but can feel frustrated if they really cannot understand or help, potentially causing them to feel guilty and useless too, they could then take this out on other people around them.
On the whole, people around the depressed person can feel helpless themselves, and may avoid the depressed person to protect themselves from the negative feelings too. Naturally, this could make the original depressed person feel more isolated, reducing their self-esteem and confidence still further.

In it’s most severe, and prolonged form, depression can lead to suicide.

Tracey of PlumEssence Therapies and Training is a qualified stress management consultant, mental health first aider, clinical hypnotherapist and body work therapist focusing on helping reduce and alleviate concerns connected to both physical and emotional wellbeing.  Tracey is also a teacher and trainer, delivering workshops and accredited mental health courses.

Tracey is available for a no-obligation chat to see how we could work together on 01889 808388 or