Do I Have The January Blues Or Am I Actually Depressed?
Feeling down? It could be a classic case of the winter blues (the mince pies are all gone, there are no pretty lights making your house feel magical and no more pressies to look forward to) – or it could be a sign of depression.
Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with one in ten people experiencing it in their lifetime. So if you’re deflated or down in the dumps, how do you know whether it’s a bad mood or something more serious?
We turned to Occupational Psychologist and Master Coach Deborah Tom to explain our complicated, confused and sometimes melancholic minds…
Why Do I Feel Sad?
“The first thing to know about sadness is that it is normal – we all feel sad from time to time. It can be triggered from external events like wars or other people’s troubles; responses to our own difficulties, someone being unkind to us or a loss or disappointment; and for women in the premenstrual phase, oestrogen levels can affect the neurotransmitter serotonin which controls mood.
“Sadness can also be triggered by a lack of sunlight makes the hypothalamus lower the production of melatonin (which makes you feel sleepy) and serotonin (affecting your mood and appetite). On top of all of that, sadness can come upon for no obvious reason at all. If you are feeling sad you will feel more listless, lonely, melancholy and maybe gloomy.”
How Can I Turn My Frown Upsidedown?
“Sadness at the start of the New Year could be seen as a signal that maybe you need to change something. The sadness can be seen as your friend. It can motivate you to spend quality time thinking through what it is that you really want. It can be the right time to have the courageous conversation that you have been putting off – because you are likely to be calm, not aggressive, not brusque but will come across as measured and sensible.”
“Self-care during sadness is important. Your appetite might be disrupted so take care to avoid alcohol, too much caffeine or sweet things and limit TV or social media. Instead, eat more green vegetables, whole grains and calcium (dairy). Take some exercise – preferably a walk outside in the sunlight if you feel up to it, or have a bath by candlelight, wrap yourself up in a blanket afterwards and read a great novel.
“Old wisdom is that sadness shared with a good friend can be halved, so think about calling a good, positive friend. Or simply say out loud to yourself 5 things you are really appreciative and grateful for right now.”
When Does Sadness Turn Into Depression?
“Should you find yourself rather too often or regularly sad or even constantly sad and are feeling worthless, without hope and the lack of energy is affecting your life negatively, you might be suffering from a medical condition and you should go and see your doctor.
“For the rest of us, take the best of what sadness has to offer – cuddle up, enjoy a different pace in which you can read poetry or a novel, think, reflect and make some great decisions for your future.”