Depressive complaints in general. The mood is disturbed in depression. It is the most common psychological complaint. You can see the mood as the keynote of our emotional life. No one has a completely stable mood; it fluctuates every now and then with everyone. Some days you feel a little less, some days a little better. Even in one day, the mood of most people can change quite a bit. An example of a daily swing is the well-known ‘morning mood’. If the mood is bleak for a long time, the mood is disturbed.
There is no absolute distinction between ‘no depression’ and ‘yes depression’. Only when the depressive symptoms have a certain duration and severity do we speak of depression.
Symptoms of depression
People who feel depressed for a long time often also get other complaints related to this, such as:
- not being able to enjoy things, or having fun anymore
- constant tiredness, no energy, the feeling that everything takes effort
- becoming slower in thinking, moving and reacting or being very restless and hunted
- sleeping problems, such as not being able to fall asleep and waking up too early or having an excessive need for sleep, being unable to get out of bed in the morning, wanting to stay in bed all-day
- problems with eating, such as no appetite or excessive eating
- increased irritability, be irritated faster
- concentration problems, difficult to keep your mind on something for a longer period of time, difficult to make decisions
- a negative self-image, a negative image of others and a negative image of the future
- thoughts of death and / or wishes
This list is not exhaustive but it makes it clear that a disturbing mood can be expressed in very different ways. Sometimes other complaints even prevail. For example, people go to the doctor because they are tired and sleep poorly; sometimes depressive complaints are the basis for this. Often there is an overlap with mood complaints with other complaints, such as stress and anxiety. Some people experience that they ‘just don’t feel comfortable’.
How does depression complaints occur?
There is no single cause for a vote disruption. Experts nowadays assume that it is always a combination of different factors in different areas. Which factor contributes most to the depressive symptoms varies per person. Both physical and psychological factors can play a role in this.
Physical factors Some people have a predisposition to develop depressive symptoms. This is especially the case with more severe depressions. There appears to be a certain disturbance in the transmission of stimuli in the brain. Neurotransmitters are substances that play a role in this. With depression, some neurotransmitters do not work well enough.
Factors such as a high dose of stress, lack of sleep, physical exhaustion, insufficient exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to a disturbed mood. A gloomy mood can be seen as an attempt by your body to restore balance. Being ‘less energetic’ forces you to take a step back.
See also, Alcohol dependence
Other physical factors can also be a cause. This is evident, among other things, from the fact that depression sometimes starts after giving birth. Many women who suffer from depression also report that menstrual symptoms are getting worse. Furthermore, depressive complaints about the transition are quite common. This indicates that changes in hormones, at least in women, can affect mood complaints.
Psychological factors that can play a role in the development of a gloomy mood, mainly have to do with loss experiences and disappointments and the way in which you deal with them. You can think of radical life events, such as the death of a loved one, yourself seriously ill, the loss of work or the breaking of a relationship.
In addition to one-off events, longer-term circumstances may also play a role. For example, people who are in social isolation and therefore have little contact with others, appear to be more susceptible to depressive symptoms. Long-term relationship problems or overloading due to private and working conditions can also play a role.
The way you deal with setbacks is important. Because of certain experiences, some people have the conviction that they themselves have little influence on their lives. It appears that in case of setback these people will respond more depressed than people who try to actively manage their own lives.
Depressed people also often have a negative way of thinking. They feel less worthy than others. This way of thinking contributes significantly to the development and persistence of a depressive mood.
Is it serious and what can you expect?
The gloomy mood usually clears up after a few weeks. Sometimes the symptoms persist to a lesser extent for a longer period of time. Most people, especially if the depressive symptoms are not very serious, will naturally recover. Some people need help, for example from a psychologist.
No matter how miserable a gloomy mood is, many people also experience positive sides to it. A period with depressive symptoms can be a turning point in life. It can be a valuable period of reflection, after which you give your life a new, more meaningful interpretation.
When to the doctor?
If you feel that there is something more going on than a ‘dip’ and your gloomy mood lasts too long, it is always wise to contact your doctor. Even if you notice that you are hindered in normal daily life and your symptoms increase rather than decrease, it is wise to visit your doctor. The doctor can work with you to see if there is a depression or mood complaints, and what can be done about it. He or she will discuss the options with you and give you advice. Your doctor can, for example, advise you on medication or psychological help. A combination of both is also possible.
What can you do about it yourself for Depressive complaints?
So various factors play a role in the development of a gloomy mood. In order to find out what you can do about it yourself, it is important to find out for yourself which circumstances play a role in you and how these can be changed.
A number of options are listed below:
Breaking the negative spiral If you are in a somber mood, there is a risk that you will end up in a negative spiral. You feel sad and tired and do not feel like the things that normally give you pleasure or satisfaction. You may have the tendency to withdraw more and more. You will do less and less and avoid contact with other people. And because you do little business, you have less opportunity to have fun experiences.
This way your negative ideas about yourself or about others are always confirmed. These negative views also lead to you doing less. It goes on and on and in this way, the mood complaints are maintained or even worse. Although it is in itself an understandable response to withdraw and to do less if you feel very gloomy and bad, it is good to realize that you are not helping yourself with this.
Exchanging negative thinking patterns for positive thinking patterns Looking at your thinking patterns is worthwhile. Perhaps you recognize in yourself how certain thoughts make you more sad or sad. This is probably more often the case than you realize. Somber people tend to think negatively without being aware of it. They make all kinds of ‘thinking errors’ unnoticed. This means that their thoughts often turn out to be inconsistent with the actual facts.
For example, you only have an eye for everything that is negative in your life, and “forget” to look at the positive things that of course exist. Please note whether you often use the word ‘always’. Sometimes people start to feel guilty about their depression: ‘now I am completely worthless’. Or you are, as it were, predicting the future, by always thinking that it will never get better. It may also be that you view everything in black and white, in terms of everything or nothing, while the reality is much more nuanced.
Another example is the so-called ‘mind-reading’: you assume that other people think very negatively about you, without you actually being able to know this. how it affects your mood. This can be done by keeping a ‘diary’ for a while, in which you note what went through your mind before you started to feel gloomy.
You will find that your own thoughts often play a role in this. You can then check for yourself whether your thoughts are actually correct, or whether you might be making a ‘thinking error’. Although this can be an important method to combat your depressive symptoms, it can be difficult to do this on your own. That is why it is wise to explain your thoughts to others so that they can tell to what extent they think you are right.
Finally, there are various self-help booklets available in the book trade, in which this method is described in detail.
General advice and precautions
If you think you are depressed, it is important to intervene as quickly as possible. Make an appointment with your doctor to present your problem and to discuss what you could do about it. Again: not every gloomy mood is immediately a depressive disorder. Almost everyone sometimes feels depressed. There is a gradual transition from this kind of ‘normal’ depressive feeling to real depression.
In addition to the points mentioned above, the following general advice can also be valuable:
Live healthy Especially if you feel depressed, a healthy lifestyle is important. This includes adequate and healthy eating and drinking, a good night’s rest and regular exercise. Reduced physical resistance probably makes you more susceptible to depressive symptoms. All the more reason, therefore, to ensure that you feel as physically as possible.
Limit alcohol and drug use Alcohol have a relaxing effect on many people. People often feel good when they have something to drink.
Alcohol strengthens the mood, so if you feel comfortable, you will feel even more comfortable with the use of alcohol, but if you feel sad, you will feel even sadder if you drink alcohol. If you were to drink more to combat these feelings (more than three or four glasses a day), you would soon end up in a vicious circle.
Many drugs also have a disruptive effect on the brain and can make you more susceptible to depression. Here too, the danger of a vicious circle is lurking. Moreover, the excessive use of coffee (more than five cups per day) can have a lot of influence on how you feel.
Do not experiment with medicines without your doctor’s advice Certain medicines, if you use them for a long time or suddenly stop taking them, can cause feelings of depression.
Depression can also be a side effect of some medicines. Always consult your doctor about medication and read the package leaflet before you start using a new medication.
Talk about your feelings Gloomy people tend to withdraw. However, it is very important to share your feelings with people who are close to you, such as your partner, family, and friends.
They will understand you better when you talk about what concerns you, and they will be able to support you better.
Stand up for yourself People who do not act assertively run a greater risk of developing psychological symptoms, including depressive symptoms. If you are already depressed, it will not help you to get out if you do not tell others what you think and what you want.
Do self-examination If you are depressed, you may be unaware that you are dissatisfied with how your life currently looks. Check for yourself if you are satisfied with important aspects of your life, such as your relationship, friends, and work. Do you still support the important decisions that you have made in the past? Do you have enough time for things that are important to you?
Take a moment to sort things out and talk about it with others you trust. When you have a clear idea of where the shoe is pinching, it is easier to take steps to do something about it.
Use experiences from the past If you have had depression before, it is good to find out for yourself how it developed and how you got out again. Perhaps the things that helped you back then are good things to do now.
It is very important to keep in mind that you also got out last time. There is no reason to think that you could not do it again.
Stay optimistic The vast majority of people get through it again. There are good treatments available for depression and you don’t have to do it all by yourself.
And although that may be hard to imagine now: you may look back on this period in a while as a very instructive and valuable experience in your life.
Depressive complaints in general