Anonymous asks:

I have lost all focus and enthusiasm for anything. I have everything I could ever want- a partner, a beautiful child, a house, loving parents and a job I like most of the time, but I feel so empty. I cry most days but I'm afraid to tell anyone because it feels so ungrateful to admit that I'm not content with what I have when it's far more than some others do. What can I do to get out of this black hole I'm stuck in?

Relationship expert Jessica Leoni says: “You are clearly suffering from depression and what we need to establish is whether this is a temporary malaise or a more long-term, deep-seated problem.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Image courtesy of Unsplash

“It would be good to know if you have a history of depression and this is the latest recurring episode. I suspect that this is not the case because I think you would have mentioned it in your letter. So I am going to assume that this change in mood is new and look for some simple ways to view life a little more positively.

“You mention that you have a beautiful child - but not a baby. So I am assuming that the child is not relatively recent. Obviously post-natal depression is a common problem, affecting up to a fifth of new mums. It does tend to ease as the baby gets older so I would be hopeful that your depression is a short-term thing if this is the cause.

“However, I suspect that your child is older and there are other sparks for your feelings of despair. The first thing you need to do is talk to your GP. They can get to the root of the problem and, if need be, prescribe medication or possibly refer you for specialist care. Depression is an incredibly common condition even in someone such as you who appears to have everything. It’s estimated that around 15% of the adult population will experience depression at some point in their adult life.

“I have suffered from depression on and off throughout my adult life. Unlike you, there is a direct cause with me and it tends to come on when I am stressed and have taken on too much work. My sleep suffers and I can feel a little overwhelmed by the multiple demands on my time and attention. I suspect that there is a bit of that going on here - combining relatively new motherhood with a demanding career that you like ‘most of the time’ is stressful. There is a clue in your phrase ‘most of the time’ - I suspect this disguises the fact that some of the time also your job is a bit of a nightmare and this is getting you down. Nothing unusual in that.

“Talk to your partner - be very open about your feelings of despair and ask for their patience and understanding while you get better. Talk to your parents, too. Don’t be afraid to tell them about the hell you are going through. They will all be eager to help and possibly, like you, have kept their own issues with depression to themselves which is why you are unaware of a family history.

“The three best cures for depression in my experience are exercise, cutting right down on the booze and good sleep. If you are not already, start doing exercise at least four times a week - for an hour a day. This could be walking the dog, swimming lanes of your local pool or going for a jog. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins in the body which immediately lift the mood. Alcohol is a depressant and you will only feel worse if you try to drink your way out of these troubles. Your mood will be worse during hangovers. I am not saying quit altogether but avoid getting drunk or bingeing on alcohol. If you are stressed it can easily impact on your sleep. You will wake up in the middle of the night worrying about things. Make sure you sleep in a very dark, quiet room and avoid distractions before you go to bed. Don’t have your phone by your bedside.

“Hopefully I have given you some pointers to the way out of this black hole. You have so many positives in your life and I am sure that this moment of darkness will pass soon. Good luck.”

Jessica is a relationship expert for the dating site 

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