What is depression?

Depression is a very common problem. Many people will at some time experience symptoms of depression. In its mildest form depression does not stop us from leading a normal life, but the most severe depression can be life threatening, with thoughts of death and suicide.

What causes depression?
No single cause for depression has been found. Usually there is more than one reason and this differs from person to person. Sometimes depression can happen without any obvious reason. Circumstances can play a part. So, for example, being alone, having to live on a very low income, physical illness and unemployment can all contribute. At times, even events that you might think of as good and positive, such as getting married, or starting a new job, can be stressful enough to cause depression. Different people will react to depression in different ways and although some may be sad and withdrawn, some show their distress in other ways, such as heavy drinking or irritability.

What treatment is available for depression?
Most people are treated for depression by their family doctor. The doctor may suggest a talking treatment or antidepressant tablets or both. The talking treatments are usually counselling or therapy. These will help you understand your own difficulties and begin to work out ways of overcoming depression. Counselling therapy will usually take a little time before you begin to feel the benefits, but treatment of this kind has helped many people and can be very effective. Most people find it helpful to talk with somebody who cares and at Stepping Stones Counselling we are trained to help you work through the feelings and thoughts that might be underlying your depression.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling we get when our body responds to a frightening or threatening experience. It has been called the “fight or flight” response. It is simply your body preparing for action, either to fight danger or run away from it as fast as possible. The purpose of the physical symptoms of anxiety therefore is to prepare your body to cope with threat.

Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time. It is a normal response to situations that we see as threatening to us. For example, if we had to go into hospital for an operation, or had to sit a driving test, or take an exam, it would be natural to feel anxious. Anxiety at certain levels can even be helpful in some situations such as when we need to perform well, or cope with an emergency.

Sometimes anxiety is not at all helpful because whilst not dangerous, it can be uncomfortable, and frightening. Sometimes people with anxiety symptoms worry that they may have something seriously wrong with them. This worry can then produce more anxiety symptoms which of course increases the worry! When anxiety is severe and goes on for a long time it can stop people doing what they want to do.

“My mind starts to race, I feel like I’m going to lose control and go mad or something”.

“I worry about everything, I get tense and wound up, and end up snapping at the children”.

Anxiety can affect:

• The way we feel. • The way we think. • The way our body works. • The way we behave.

What causes anxiety?
There may be many reasons why someone becomes anxious. Some people may have an anxious personality and have learned to worry. Others may have a series of stressful life events to cope with, for example bereavements, redundancy, divorce.
Others may be under pressure, at work, or home, for example, because of family problems or bills.
Anxiety can often become part of a vicious circle where our symptoms, thoughts and behaviour keep the anxiety going.

What treatment is available for anxiety?
Your family doctor, health visitor or practice nurse may be able to give you help in dealing with anxiety. Occasionally, doctors prescribe tablets for anxiety. These should only be taken for short spells to get over specific anxiety provoking situations.

Talking to a Stepping Stones Counsellor can be very helpful as you work out where your anxiety has come from and how to manage your feelings and thoughts, taking steps towards living a more fulfilling life.