Sunday, 15 July 2012

Depression, Recognising It.


- By Kazza K

I'm posting two blogs on depression - Depression Part 1, Recognising It. Then I will post over the next few days Depression Part 2, Some Helpful Strategies and Ideas to Cope. This is all done within the frame of a friendly blog. I truly dislike depression and I know the stats are around 1 in 5 people at any point in time is suffering from depression. We were talking about it on FaceBook recently and I felt like sharing my thoughts and feelings. I've worked with depressed clients, I've helped depressed friends, and I've suffered depression.

Without rattling on too much about my experience I feel it's important to state that I have suffered depression. I don't mind people knowing, it's nothing to be ashamed of, just for the record. I had the most shocking Post Natal Depression. Basically, it was Post Natal Psychosis. I won't go into all the details, because there are too many things to cover, and it was awful, but let's just say I couldn't cope after my son's birth, at all. I couldn't perform the most basic of everyday activities - like make up formula, feed my child, look after my 7 year old, cook dinner, pull myself together much to stop crying or panicking. I also felt like I wanted to run away - where to I could never say - but my husband caught me trying to escape through the back gate on a number of occasions. I also couldn't sleep, I was lucky to have 3 hours sleep a day which, of course, compounds things. I also kept battling inner voices telling me to "just drop my son" or for me to "stand behing the car" as my husband reversed out of the garage. There was more, but I don't wish to elaborate. I didn't fill my husband in on these horrific, frightening thoughts until I was more lucid, which was quite a few months down the track. My husband knew what a state I was in by and large, and would not leave me alone, at all. We were lucky to be self employed so he could do this for me and for our family. My husband's family were scattered to the four winds, so they couldn't help and my family are best not discussed. After I recoverd from the initial loss of total control and inability to function, I felt like my life amounted to not much more than trying to crawl out of a big black hole, with no footholds anywhere to be seen. Obviously my life got better, I'm a therapist and I've worked with plenty of clients, post my own major depressive episode, but it took years for me to get properly back on my feet again. I'm still prone to depressive bouts, not a lot but they do occur. If you have a severe depressive episode it sometimes has a hangover effect of smaller/ocassional bouts of depression after, but please don't think this is true of everyone; I had a particularly severe psychotic episode. What exacerbates this for me is that I cannot handle any anti-depressants, which, well, sucks, because AD's can be incredibly helpful for people suffering depression, particularly for those with more moderate to severe depression.

Yes, there are degrees of severity of depression, just as there is with anxiety. Together with your therapist and/or doctor you will be able to work out how severe your depression is and what should be done to help you through. Of course, family members are invaluable at knowing how bad things may be for you as they love you and notice details that you maybe too close to to analyse clearly. So below I have a checklist included for you to peruse, this is not meant to replace talking to a professional and it's not all encompassing. People have some different experiences, for example when I had my PND/P I couldn't guage temperature of water or weather, my doctor had not heard of this before. So this list is not to be used as a be all and end all, just a guide if you or someone you know needs it. I'm putting it on this book reviews and therapy blog as a talking point, an assistance not to replace actual professional help -

Depression Checklist

(Just answer yes or no to the following)

For more than TWO WEEKS have you –

1) Felt sad, down, miserable or irritable most of the time?                              

2) Lost interest or pleasure in all or nearly all your usual activities?              

If you answered YES to EITHER of these questions then look at the checklist below –


Stopped going out                                                     

Not getting things done at school/work/home         

Withdrawing from family                                        

Withdrawing from regular friends                           

Stopped doing things you’ve enjoyed                      

Unable to concentrate                                                

More forgetful (than usual)                                       


 “I’m a failure”                                                           

“It’s all my fault”                                                       

“Nothing good ever happens to me”                          

“I’m worthless”                                                          

“Life is not worth living”                                           

“I just want to run away”                                           

"Everyone is better than me"                                      



Unhappy, sad                                                             



No confidence                                                            




Tired all of the time/a lot of the time    
Sick & run down                                                        


Muscle pains                                                              

Upset stomach/Diarrhea                                            

Chest pain/pain down the arm (on left side)             

Can’t sleep/Trouble falling asleep                             

Waking in the middle of the night then unable
to get back to sleep                                                    

Can’t get out of bed                                                   

Poor appetite/weight loss                                          

As I said before, there are other things that you may be feeling. For me, I just constantly felt like a complete failure as a mother, amongst harsher thoughts. Everybody else seemed to be cruising along and I was falling apart. I had a lovely baby boy, a wonderful daughter, and a terrific husband, but I was a mess. I also felt like I was watching a movie go by. One day I sat in our car, with my daughter, while my husband took our baby boy to quickly go buy groceries, and I just fell apart as I felt like I wasn't part of the world outside the car. It was like a movie, a horror movie starring me. Also, what can start as poor to no appetite can change into cravings for sweet things. I love music but when I'm depressed I don't listen to it, nor do I sing and I pretty much always sing. So, there are other personal, specific things not on this checklist, but please use it as a general guide.

In the next sheet, Depression Part 2, Some Helpful Ideas to Cope, I will write about some positives,  things to think about, ideas. Remember, with depression you project into the future based on how you feel now. That is a false projection based on your current mood. How you feel now will not always be the way your life will be. This is something I know personally, something I tell my friends and clients -

You start off having mostly bad days, then some good days, then more good days than bad days, then good days rule. This is what happens. You will not always feel depressed. Life will get better. 


  1. What a wonderfully helpful, insightful and personal post. I think it will help a lot of people. I can't wait for part two :)

  2. Thanks Pandorash, As my father used to say - like Christmas it's coming!

  3. Really helpful post, Karen - the checklist is excellent. Sorry to hear about your PN depression - one of my friends had that and it was really horrendous for her. Took a while to recover too.

    Hugs galore


    1. A number of people have had a look at this one and asked to put the symptoms up on their FB page to help friends etc. Terrible thing depression. It affects so many and yet people still don't know much about it and we are under resourced to cope with it. PND is a shocker, there's such guilt attached to it as well.

      Thanks Anne :)