A doctor will diagnose depression usually by checking your symptoms with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). A doctor may also ask you to complete a questionnaire to assist with diagnosing the severity of your symptoms, for example:
1) Mild depression is when symptoms are having some impact on daily life.
2) Moderate depression has a significant impact on daily life.
3) Severe depression is debilitating in every or almost every way and impacts greatly on daily life.
Please be aware that if you have suffered a loss or are grieving or perhaps going through a particularly traumatic time in your life, then it would be normal for you to feel sad and low in mood at times - your doctor would hopefully reasure you about this.
Depression is an illness, not a temporary state of low mood.
As a therapist, I believe that counselling can have an extremely positive impact on a client that suffers from depression.
As a client, you have the opportunity to gain further insight into triggers for your depression and how adjustments to your coping structure might help long term in reducing symptoms of depression.
Being able to talk openly about feelings and thought processes and how they impact on behaviour, and vice versa, can be a liberating and enlightening process. There are many different types of therapy out there, however the main aim would be to find a counsellor you can work with – someone you feel comfortable with. See about counselling for more information.
Your GP may be able to refer you for counselling, however be prepared to be put on a waiting list. Depending on where you live and the type of therapeutic intervention prescribed, this can vary from one month to nine months.
If you wish to search for a private counsellor near you in Great Britain, then I recommend the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
A doctor may prescribe medication if you are suffering from depression such as antidepressants. Try not to be concerned if this is the case - some symptoms can be alleviated effectively by these types of medication, however be aware that it may take a few weeks for you to notice that the medication is having any affect. Always read about possible side effects.
If you decide to take presribed medication, then do attend regular reviews with your doctor to make sure the medication is still necessary and right for you.
In my experience, a joint approach of a low dosage of anti-depressants and counselling is a good combination in lifting symptoms of depression and is an effective way of building resilience for the client and an understanding of how to manage and cope well long term.
When you are having a good day and have some energy, try to take some exercise, preferably by going outside if you can. Take a walk and feel the fresh air on your face and in your lungs...natural daylight is so good for all of us. Try to do this regularly and create a routine that is manageable. There is something quite cathartic about being outside and soaking up the sights, sounds and smells and being in the great outdoors.
Notice your diet. Are you eating okay? Are you drinking enough fluids (non alcohol)?
How long has it been since you had a laugh with a friend or family member? Try to make contact with people and engage socially when you can - especially when you are having a good day.
Don't beat yourself up when those more difficult or challenging days come along - tomorrow could be a good day...
See my stress management page for top tips which may be of help to you.
Read this article by Victoria Finan "Surviving Depression at University" about her own experience of depression - a very honest portrayal.
See my page on Hypnosis Downloads for easy to download scripts on managing symptoms of depression.
Click here for my page on Dysthymia - a long lasting form of depression.