Aware’s message is one of hope: recovery is possible.
At any one time, 450,000 people in Ireland are experiencing depression. That’s 1 in 10 people. Depression is different from normal sadness. It affects your ability to work, sleep, eat, engage with others. The feelings you have when you are experiencing depression can be intense and enduring. It can have a profound impact on the individual experiencing depression, but also on their families and friends.
At Aware we use the acronym FESTIVAL to describe the 8 main symptoms of depression.
F eeling – sad, anxious, guilty, hopeless
E nergy – low energy, feeling tired or fatigued
S leeping – under or over-sleeping, waking frequently, change to your normal pattern
T hinking – poor concentration, thinking slowed down
I nterest – loss of interest in hobbies, family or social life, things that normally give you pleasure
V alue – low self-esteem
A ches – with no physical basis, e.g. chest, head or tummy pain associated with anxiety or stress
L oss of interest – in living, thinking about death, suicidal thoughts
*We suggest that if you have 5 or more of these symptoms for 2 weeks or more, it is advisable to see your GP.
Symptoms in men can vary from how they present in women. Along with sadness, men can often experience irritability and anger during depression. Sometimes men lean on alcohol to “numb” the feelings but while there might be short term relief, alcohol is a depressant and only compounds the depression and creates an additional problem. People who experience depression have a negative view of themselves, but because men are slower to open up about how they feel, they can push people away, more quickly. Aware encourages any man who is concerned about his mental health to make use of the services which are available, to reach out for help, and to accept help. A lot of men can feel that it is weak to feel depressed but it is real strength to speak out and tell someone that you are not feeling well and need some help.
Aware does not provide diagnosis, treatment, counselling or consultations. What it does provide is that often-overlooked piece of the puzzle which can, for so many people, be the piece that makes all the difference: knowledge and understanding. Aware provides a number of support services for the individual, as well as their loved ones to include a Support Line and Support Mail service, both of which operate 365 days a year. We also run Support & Self Care Groups nationwide offering peer to peer support and facilitated by Aware trained volunteers. Aware is also committed to education and early intervention as we work towards reducing the prevalence of mental ill health, delivering free ‘Life Skills’ programmes to adults and senior cycle students nationwide with the aim of empowering people with the knowledge, skills and tools to look after their mental health and develop the ‘resilience’ to cope with the stresses of modern everyday life. We also deliver a free support and education programme, Relatives & Friends Programme, specifically for those who are supporting a loved one with a mental health condition.
For more information, visit aware.ie