Are you close to depression?

Today 280 million people suffer from depression, and yet it remains a taboo subject, which we dare not talk about. Being depressed is an illness and not just complaining or having the courage to do nothing. Depression is still too much stigmatized even though it is the first cause of disability in the world. So dare to talk about your depression. Dare to express yourself and share your feelings and your discomfort. Taking care of yourself is above all being able to say so, and accepting the support that people can give you.

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1. What is depression?

Depression is a pathology manifested by sadness, despair, loss of motivation, great fatigue, low self-esteem, gloomy thoughts, the feeling of not feeling pleasure etc. It is therefore a mood disorder.

Depression usually comes in phases. This mood can worsen for several weeks, months or even years. And depending on its duration and intensity, depression can be considered more or less severe.
Today, it is considered one of the main factors of disability in the world. And yet, this illness is still too often stigmatized from a social point of view. A form of shame is attached to it, which regularly delays treatment.

2. Difference between depression and low mood

The word “depression” has increasingly entered the common language, but is not always used properly. This is why we may tend to minimize episodes of sadness.
Depression is a “normal” period of sadness. It can be more or less great and can occur following an event. It is normal, in life, that we have more difficult moments, with less enthusiasm, without it being pathological.  It is legitimate to be sad following a death, a break-up or any other event. A bout of the blues is not an illness.
Depression, on the other hand, is a mood disorder. It is a state of sadness that is permanent and persists without any particular reason. Unlike depression, depression is an illness, which can be chronic. It is linked to a lot of negative thoughts, to a great personal devaluation with the impression of not having any value. There is also a loss of projection into the future, a loss of pleasure in the activities that one used to enjoy. This major suffering creates a dysfunction in the person’s life with repercussions in the entire daily life. It can therefore have serious consequences on all levels.



3. What are the symptoms and characteristics of depression?

Each person is unique, and depending on the severity of the depression, the symptoms of depression may vary. However, there are many characteristics that can provide some clues to our psychological state. These symptoms must be long-lasting and last at least 2 consecutive weeks.

At first, when you are in depression, you are constantly in a sad mood. As a result, you feel a loss of interest and pleasure in your daily activities, but also in your leisure activities. When you are in a state of depression, you no longer feel pleasure in different activities. This deep sadness also leads you to have negative thoughts, sometimes even to the point of having dark and suicidal thoughts.

Moreover, when you are in depression, you feel a sense of emptiness, even the impression of not feeling anything anymore. Indeed, you feel soulless, wandering through life without really feeling like you are there.

Thus, you constantly put yourself down and have no confidence in yourself and you devalue yourself a lot. You systematically doubt everything: yourself, your future, others, life etc. And all the positive elements that are present in your life seem to be only a decoy.

The future no longer seems to exist, you no longer have any plans for the future, and you live with a permanent feeling of anxiety. This feeling of anxiety is present in your daily life, but also and especially for your future. Moreover, you feel guilty a lot, for everything. Every element, every moment, every event, every person around you is a source of guilt. Thus, you feel guilty for having done or said things that would go against a good development.

You are more easily irritable, you seem very agitated and even aggressive. Your reactions can sometimes seem inappropriate, exaggerated. In short, you are particularly sensitive emotionally.

In addition, you have associated sleep disorders. You have insomnia, or on the contrary hypersomnia (you sleep almost all the time). As a result, you are always particularly tired, and have a great lack of energy.

In addition, your libido has decreased, or is even completely lost. You no longer feel like making love with your partner, and this inevitably makes you feel guilty.

From a physical point of view, you feel pain more easily, especially in your head, back and stomach. And your body weight varies a lot (either by getting fatter or thinner).

Finally, you experience isolation, and you feel more and more alone.

4. What is the origin of depression?

It is difficult to pinpoint a single factor that can cause depression. There are many possible causes.


a. Genetics

Depression is therefore not a hereditary disease as such. However, it seems that certain genes could soon be identified as being involved in this disorder. Numerous studies show that genetics plays a major role in depression. Indeed, a person who has at least one depressive parent is two to four times more likely to be depressed.

b. The organic

Beyond the genetic aspect, depression can be due to bad connections between neurotransmitters, that is, a bad communication of certain neurons related to mood. Indeed, serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline – which are neurotransmitters linked to mood regulation, motivation, pleasure, attention and sleep and energy management – are down. This disruption creates a decrease in mood and an increase in depressive symptoms.

c. A link between depression and illness

When we contract an illness, we are more likely to generate depression. Indeed, man is made to project himself, to create future projects, to have fun. The disease can be a barrier to this and increases the risk of depression.

d. The living environment

Living conditions and the way they are experienced can have a strong impact on the risk of depression. Indeed, certain living conditions related to daily life can make the quest for happiness more difficult. It is true that if we have difficulty finishing our month ends properly, if we are an exhausted single mother/father, if we live in a violent environment etc. it is difficult to find happiness. But without going to such extreme living conditions, chronic stress (at work, with a busy schedule, feeling overwhelmed…) can increase the risk of depression. Family conflicts, small or large, are also factors of depression.


e. Lifestyle habits

Some poor lifestyle habits contribute to depression. Indeed, food is an essential component, and poor eating habits related to it can create nutritional deficiencies that have an impact on mood. In addition, certain habits such as drug and alcohol use play a major role as well.


f. Life event or trauma

There are difficult life events that can generate sadness or anxiety. It is normal to be sad following a death, for example, but when this sadness lasts too long, it is possible that this phase of sadness becomes a phase of depression. In addition, certain life traumas can generate a tendency to depression, in particular childhood traumas (violence, rape, aggression…), but also later in life (unemployment, separation).

5. What are the consequences of depression on daily life and on the future?

The consequences of depression are multiple and affect your whole life. It affects not only your physical health, but also your professional/school, personal and social life.

First, depression affects your mood, your thoughts and your behaviour. You have reactions and ideas that you cannot always control. Then, you don’t feel like doing anything anymore, you lose your enthusiasm for many activities. Moreover, you always feel tired, have no appetite or on the contrary eat too much. As a result, you no longer feel good about yourself and have lost all confidence in yourself.

From a physical point of view, you often feel pain all over your body, whether it is in your back, stomach or head. You have the impression that your body can no longer support you, and you feel it. In addition, your immune system is diminished, and you become more vulnerable to illness. All the little viruses are constantly lurking around you.

As a result, you are no longer very focused in your professional or academic life. You feel like you don’t want to go there anymore, that you don’t belong there. Your grades are down or your boss is showing his displeasure. Your colleagues think you are slack and your work is less and less efficient.

It is true that depression causes cognitive problems. Indeed, it decreases your memory capacity, your attention or your concentration. You are less able to concentrate on a task, you have difficulty paying attention. Or you forget everything you are told or what you have to do. So you feel like you are not really yourself anymore, and that you are losing your mind.  Your whole life becomes very confused, both within yourself and around you.

Depression also affects your social life. Indeed, you suffer from isolation and loneliness. You no longer have the energy or desire to see those around you. You may be ashamed of what you are going through, or the people you have talked to about it may not understand and let you brood over your negative thoughts. They don’t always want to be a part of it and may not be there to help you. Sometimes you simply lock yourself into the idea that, in depression, no one would want to see you.

However, family life also experiences difficulties when one of the members suffers from depression. When we suffer morally and mentally, we are more irritable, more tired, less patient, more susceptible. Many conflicts may arise within the family. It is also possible that your family does not understand that you are suffering and asks you to “shake it off”. Without understanding that it is not a question of willpower.

Finally, untreated depression can become more severe or increase the risk of triggering depression again in the near future. Depression also greatly increases the risk of suicide.


6. What disorders can be regularly associated with depression?

Depression often does not occur alone. Either certain disorders cause depression, or, conversely, depression leads to other disorders. In any case, it is possible that other disorders are associated with it.

Anxiety, in many forms, can be associated with it. Indeed, when we suffer from depression, we are more vulnerable to anxiety (whether it be generalized anxiety or certain other phobias). But conversely, when we suffer from an anxiety (or a phobia), it can ruin our lives to the point that we fall into depression.

Addiction and depression are also two pathologies that complement each other. It is true that addiction (tobacco, alcohol, drugs or other behavioral addictions) can silence inner pain. Addiction is sometimes an anaesthetic of suffering. Conversely, some addictions can block certain neurotransmitters or cause other disorders that increase depression.

Because our immune system is diminished, you are more vulnerable to illness. You are more tired and the viruses that pass by attack you quickly. You therefore feel weak and create a vicious circle of malaise.

Finally, depression is often accompanied by an eating disorder. Indeed, eating is a way to manage your depression. You can therefore suffer from anorexia, hyperphagia or bulimia linked to your depression.

7. Who are the people most affected by depression?

Depression can affect anyone, from children to the elderly. The onset of symptoms and the disorder usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood. Nevertheless, there are certain prevalences with a higher risk of suffering from depression.

It is important to know that depression is a widespread disorder. In fact, it is the disorder from which the most people suffer. In fact, between 11 and 20% of the world’s population would be affected by a major depression during their lifetime, and 8% would have suffered from it during the year. This is why it is important not to continue to let this subject be taboo and to dare to talk about it around us and to health professionals.

Depression currently affects more than 280 million people worldwide. It affects more women than men. Unemployed people and the elderly are also more at risk of suffering from depression.

Following childbirth, it is possible for a mother to suffer from the baby blues. It is important that this be treated quickly to prevent the condition from becoming more permanent.

8. How to avoid or prevent depression?

There are certain habits that one can adopt to avoid suffering from severe depression and to take care of oneself quickly.

First of all, there are certain lifestyle habits that are important to adopt. First, be able to exercise. Do at least 1 hour of sport per week, walk, take the stairs, ride a bike, go to the gym. Choose an activity that you like, and devote time and energy to it.

It is also important to be able to breathe. Either during your sports activity that we mentioned earlier, or take the time to get some fresh air. It is important to spend at least half an hour a day outside. In winter, cover up well and take advantage of the lunch break to go for a walk. Otherwise, try as much as possible to move around outside (go to work, walk the dog, go for a walk…).

Nutrition is a key factor in good mental health. Don’t we say “a healthy mind in a healthy body”? So try to take care of your meals, your food and the products you buy. Take the time to prepare small pleasant dishes. Favour vegetables (in season). Don’t forget your five fruits and vegetables a day.

Promote restful sleep. A good sleep is necessary and fundamental to good mental health. If you’re tired you can’t implement techniques, projects or manage your emotions. So adopt sleep habits. Avoid staying up too late, try to go to bed at a similar time every night, avoid psychotropic drugs several hours before going to sleep, limit screen time to at least 45 minutes before going to bed…

Relax. Take the time to (re)connect with yourself, to take the time to know yourself, to learn to be with yourself, to take and give time. Feel good, listen to your body, your emotions, your sensations and accept them.

Open yourself to others, don’t neglect social relationships. Go out with your friends, meet new people, accept to know more intimately your surroundings. Try to be interested in the other person and to reveal yourself in order to create sincere, strong and authentic relationships. Moreover, if you feel that your morale is declining, dare to talk about it to your trusted circle of friends. As soon as the first symptoms of depression appear, talk about it to those around you. This circle of friends and acquaintances can help you. If you don’t feel able to talk about it to those around you, talk to a health professional from the start. He or she will be able to help you and guide you in your treatment process.

Man is made to have projects, to have goals to reach. Give yourself goals: “Hope is life”. Mobilize your energy, your skills and your qualities to successfully achieve all your wishes. These goals give you an important ambition to keep your morale up and an important motivation.

Finally, the most important thing is to learn to appreciate and love yourself as you are. You are full of qualities and success. Focus on what you can do, on who you are rather than on your “flaws”. Every flaw is also a quality. Every difficulty in life is a new skill learned. Look back at all the mountains you have already managed to climb.

9. How to treat depression?

Depression is a disorder that you should not be ashamed to talk about. It is an illness that should be treated as soon as possible. Not treating it in time can increase the symptoms or make them persist. It is therefore important to quickly consult a health professional (psychologist or psychiatrist). If your symptoms are too severe, the psychiatrist will probably prescribe medication to reduce your sad mood. However, in the long term, it is harmful to the brain and can be very addictive.

Virtual reality therapies allow you to apprehend the world differently, to create again the neuronal connections of pleasure, to increase your self-esteem, your self-confidence, to work on positive thoughts, to work on false beliefs. All this work will be done in a context of reactivation of neurotransmitters and in a playful and pleasant practice. The psychologist who accompanies you will know how to help you find pleasure and make your daily life more serene.

10. What is the solution for treating depression?

It is important not to let personal discomfort and exhaustion take over and grow within us. Even if it seems weak and we find alternative solutions, depression can take over and completely ruin your life. The more you let this feeling creep up on you, the harder it will be to get out. We won’t feel like going out with our friends, doing activities, motivating ourselves to make plans, etc.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapies (VRET) allow us to work on different aspects, whether they are of the substance (feelings of sadness, dark thoughts, or feelings of uselessness for example), or of the form with solutions and tools to find a more serene daily life, and to learn to listen to our needs.

Virtual reality therapies allow you to take ownership of your body, to listen to it and to accept that you can feel certain sensations. They will allow you to increase your self-confidence, your self-esteem and will help you manage your emotions.

You advance according to its temporality and are followed in your progression. You are always accompanied, supported and listened to. In this way, you will be able to serenely find your way back to serenity and you will leave behind you these obstacles that may have spoiled your daily life.