Friday, 24 April 2015

Can you spot the signs of depression in young people?

In our final post during Depression Awareness Week, we wanted to highlight a group of people  who are known to be moody as a matter of course - we do of course mean teenagers.

Of course, the tendency of teenagers to have mood swings and to be independent is quite normal. As well as hormonal issues, there is a lot of change, anxiety and pressure at this life stage, so it stands to reason that there will be mood swings.

However this tendency can make it harder to spot signs of more serious issues, such as depression, in this age group.

How can I spot the signs?

When it comes to depression, the key is to consider the length and severity of the symptoms. Long lasting, uncharacteristic changes in personality, behaviour or mood are good indicators that something is not right. 

Teenagers who are depressed may become irritable, hostile and prone to angry outbursts. They may not take criticism very well and be particularly sensitive to being rejected or to failing. You may notice some changes in friendships, although many teenagers with depression manage to maintain their friendships. Depressed teenagers will often distance themselves from their parents or start hanging out with a new crowd. They may also complain about physical ailments that seem to have no  cause.

Spotting the signs of depression in teenagers is vital to getting them the help they need at this stressful life stage. 

Here are 10 signs that your teenager may be suffering from depression

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Loss of interest/pleasure in activities
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue/lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death/suicide

If you need help and want to know more about depression and what you can do about it, please read our information sheet for further details >

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Depression Awareness: Helping Men Seek Help

This week is depression awareness week and in our previous post we looked at what depression is.

At First Psychology Scotland's centres we work with people of all ages and from all types of background and we see the evidence every day. Depression doesn't just affect one type of person - anyone can suffer from depression at any point in their life.

Men are often overlooked

However when it comes to thinking about depression, men are often overlooked. There are a number of reasons for this. Traditional ways of assessing people for depression looked at the symptoms which up until recently had been the symptoms reported by women. That is because women are more likely to seek help. Indeed many men have been brought up to be big and strong and not to cry or admit weakness. They may not share their feelings with their friends, family or even their partner. This can prevent men seeking help.

The signs that a man may need help

Men actually experience the same range of issues and problems as women, but their coping strategies differ and they may drink excessively or take drugs, over-work, eat unhealthily or undertake risky/self-harming behaviours to deal with their feelings. 

Does therapy work for men?

Once men have got over the initial hurdle of admitting they need help, therapy can be a huge relief, allowing them to open up about their feelings in a safe environment where they won't be judged. Indeed surveys have shown that men and women report and equal level of satisfaction with the experience of therapy and counselling. 

Further information

If you would like further information about our 'therapy for men' service, please visit our website >

Monday, 20 April 2015

How do you know if you're depressed?

It is Depression Awareness Week this week and everyone will be familiar with the term 'depression' being used in everyday conversation to describe someone who is feeling miserable, but what really constitutes depression and how can you tell the difference between low mood and depression?

What is depression?

Someone who is suffering from depression will not simply feel a little bit down for a few weeks, they will experience low mood, loss of interest or enjoyment in activities, and low self-esteem over a prolonged period of time. They may find it hard to deal with daily life and may not feel able to cope with day-to-day activities.

Common symptoms of depression 

There are many different symptoms associated with depression including:

Changes in feelings: feeling agitated, irritated or angry; feeling worthless or helpless; low confidence; guilt; feeling you have lost control of your life; and suicidal thoughts.

Changes in behaviour: increased aggression towards others; losing your temper quickly; taking more risks than usual; finding it hard to concentrate on tasks; reduced interest in social activities; little interest in sex; and lack of motivation to take care of yourself by eating properly, keeping clean or exercising.

You may also experience an increased or reduced appetite and thus rapid weight loss or gain; and difficulty sleeping.

Of course everyone is different and so some people may experience a few of these symptoms while others may experience nearly all of them and in varying degrees of severity.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Are you an assertive communicator?

What sort of communicator are you? 

If you find it hard or feel guilty about expressing your view point or feel angry and lose your temper when others disagree with you then you may be a non-assertive communicator.

Lacking assertiveness skills, non-assertive communicators may be passive and submit to the dominance of others or they may be aggressive and dominate social interactions. 

Often aggression and dominance is what people think of when they think about assertiveness, but assertiveness is not about this.

What is assertiveness?

Assertiveness is about feeling able to express your view point and feelings in an open and honest way as well as listening respectfully to the views and feelings of others. 

An assertive communicator will feel able to say 'no' to the unfair demands of others without feeling guilty or anxious. This may sound easy, but expressing your viewpoint without bullying and dominating others and without feeling guilty later is a skill that many lack. 

Tips for becoming more assertive

There are plenty of things you can do to become more assertive.

  • Take a course or join a local group: Practice is vital and a local group or training course will be able to help set you on the right path.
  • Watch your body language: Our bodies often send out messages about us without us being aware, so learning to stand up straight, walk with confidence and to make and maintain eye contact are all good ways of feeling and showing you are more in control, which in turn can help you stay calm and feel more assertive.
  • Role play: Practise going through difficult situations with a friend and remember to swap roles so you can see both perspectives. 
  • Take time to reflect before reacting: Often when a situation is stressful or we feel put on the spot, we react without thinking. Consciously try to take a step back, take a deep breath and reflect on what you are going to say before speaking. Over time this will become easier to do without thinking about it.
  • Don't give up on your message: Be ready to repeat your message if you feel it is being dismissed or ignored.

Further information

First Psychology Scotland is running a four week course 'Assertive Skills For Women' in Edinburgh, starting on 13 May 2015. If you are interested in taking part or finding out more, click here for further details of Assertiveness Skills For Women