August is Mental Health Awareness Month at lifetrainme

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August is Mental Health Awareness Month at lifetrainme.

We all know what it’s like to feel stressed - being under pressure is a normal part of life. When we are overwhelmed by stress this can lead to mental health problems or make existing problems worse.

The word ‘depressed’ is a common everyday word. People might say "I'm depressed" when in fact they mean "I'm fed up because I've had a row, or failed an exam, or lost my job", etc. These ups and downs of life are common and normal and most people recover quite quickly. True depression isn’t just low mood, it’s also other symptoms which can last for at least two weeks. Symptoms can also become severe enough to interfere with normal day-to-day activities.

If you’ve had depression at some point in your life you’ll be aware that there are bad days. Whilst ‘bad day’ is a bit of an understatement, it’s a useful catch-all term to communicate to others that you’re struggling without going into detail.

Those are the days when you feel like you’re living in a dark cloud on a sunny day. Those days are bad days.

Crying is one of the most natural and healthy things you can do. It’s tied to our core emotions and is tied to our feelings of frustration and sorrow.

Crying helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Holding in those feelings not only exacerbates your mental health issues – especially anxiety related issues - but also has long term impact on your cardiovascular system.

So if you feel like crying, go for it.

Who gets depressed?

About 5 in 100 adults suffer with depression every year. Depression can be mild or last a few weeks. However, an episode of depression serious enough to require treatment occurs in about 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men at some point in their lives. Some people have two or more episodes of depression at various times in their lives.

Core symptoms of depression:

  • Persistent sadness or low mood. This may be with or without weepiness.
  • Marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities, even for activities that you normally enjoy.

Other common symptoms:

  • Disturbed sleep compared with your usual pattern. This may be difficulty in getting off to sleep, or waking early and being unable to get back to sleep. Sometimes it is sleeping too much.
  • Change in appetite. This is often a poor appetite and weight loss. Sometimes the reverse happens with comfort eating and weight gain.
  • Tiredness (fatigue) or loss of energy.
  • Agitation or slowing of movements.
  • Poor concentration or indecisiveness. For example, you may find it difficult to read, work, etc. Even simple tasks can seem difficult.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
  • Recurrent thoughts of death. This is not usually a fear of death, more a preoccupation with death and dying. For some people despairing thoughts such as "life's not worth living" or "I don't care if I don't wake up" are common. Sometimes these thoughts progress into thoughts about and even plans for suicide.

For those who are depressed it is not just a case of simply pulling oneself together. If you were to meet someone with a broken leg you would feel sympathy and want to help them manage, yet mental illness does not evoke the same feelings. Perhaps lack of understanding is the reason. During the month of August we will be examining the symptoms, causes and how to manage and get back on the right track. We will be gaining an insight into depression from a sufferer who will be describing his own personal battle with the condition.

The summer weather and the heat can exacerbate depression. We are conditioned to think that we should be having fun on the summer, which can make someone battling with depression feel even worse.

There is a lot of resource to help with depression. Making contact can often be the hardest thing and no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. Our aim this month is to raise awareness of mental illness and let everyone know that "it's OK not to be OK"

Written by: Mimi

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