It is completely normal to feel low, sad or fed up at times. This can be in response to things going on in our lives and around us, or sometimes seemingly for no reason at all. However we would expect to notice that our mood improves naturally within a week or two and the low mood doesn’t have too great an impact on our lives. However if you have depression, these low feelings tend to linger and can last much longer, months or even years, and they can then begin to have a significant impact on your life.
Below is a list of the symptoms of depression as provided by the Royal College of Psychiatry. People who are experiencing depression will not experience every symptom but may find they can identify with at least 5 or 6 of them.
- feel unhappy most of the time (but may feel a little better in the evenings)
- lose interest in life and can’t enjoy anything
- find it harder to make decisions
- can’t cope with things that you used to
- feel utterly tired
- feel restless and agitated
- lose appetite and weight (some people find they do the reverse and put on weight)
- take 1-2 hours to get off to sleep, and then wake up earlier than usual
- lose interest in sex
- lose your self-confidence
- feel useless, inadequate and hopeless
- avoid other people
- feel irritable
- feel worse at a particular time each day, usually in the morning
- think of suicide
CBT can help you to identify if you have developed any unhelpful, overly negative or unrealistic thinking styles or habits, as well as any unhelpful coping strategies or behaviours in response to feeling depressed. It is possible that you do things to cope with the low mood that feel helpful at the time, but these may in fact be maintaining the depression and not allowing your mood to improve. CBT would therefore be directed at helping you to develop more helpful ways of thinking and behaving in order for you to feel better.