With the recent wave of celebrity suicides, there’s been a lot of talk about depression and mental illness on social media. Today’s post comes from a guest who wanted their voice heard without recognition. They felt compelled to add their voice to the conversation but asked to not be identified.
This person has dealt personally with depression for some time and has a few pointers for those wondering, do I have depression? This article will not only speak to the difference between depression and low moods but also offer some self-help tips for dealing with depression that they have found successful in coping with depression.
Do I Have Depression?
In order to identify if you have depression, it’s important to look at the clinical definitions and the signs and symptoms of depression.
While there are many signs and effects of depression to look for if you’re trying to figure out what is wrong with yourself or someone you’re close to, it’s important to remember that only a trained professional can diagnose someone.
If you suspect that you or someone you love has a problem, please seek professional services.
The Definition and Effects of Depression
Depression is defined as a feeling of severe despondency and dejection. It’s a serious medical condition negatively affecting the way you feel. Thankfully, it can be cured. Signs of depression include:
Irritable Mood – If you feel irritable or depressed pretty much all the time, that is a sign of potential major depression – especially if this is not how you normally felt before.
Overwhelming Sadness – If you find that you’re crying a lot, and are sad about everything while having circular thoughts about this sadness, it’s a sign that you may have depression.
Loss of Interest – If there are things that you used to love to do and now you cannot find any joy in doing them, that’s a sign of depression.
Weight Changes – Often, depressed individuals have changes in appetite and either eat too much or eat too little.
Sleep Disturbances – Many depressed people cannot sleep at night, or they sleep all the time and would rather sleep than do anything else.
Restlessness – Some depressed people have described this as feeling as if they want to “do something” but they don’t know what it is. They are too sluggish to do anything but have an inner restless feeling of things not being right.
Sluggish and Tired – This has been described as feeling as if you have lead in your veins and the inability to wake up fully. You just drag yourself around each day with no enthusiasm and with great effort.
Worthlessness – Many depressed people feel unworthy and even describe themselves as hating themselves. They cannot find reasons why anyone else would want to be around them or why they are in this world.
Feelings of Guilt – Often, depressed people feel guilty a lot but not about anything they can define, other than they’re guilty that they can’t do the things they want to do and feel that they should do. But they feel helpless to help themselves.
Problems Concentrating – Depression can make it hard to focus and concentrate on anything. The mind starts wandering around and before you know it, you’re confused about what you were doing in the first place.
Poor Decision Making – Many depressed people don’t make good choices in their lives because they are trying to do anything to feel better. This may mean becoming a substance abuser, going shopping, gambling, having affairs and other things to mask the depression.
Thoughts of Dying – Some depressed people think about dying a lot. They wish they would just not wake up when they go to sleep. This is one reason a lot of depressed people sleep a lot.
Thoughts of Suicide – Not all depressed people think of suicide, but many will develop within their mind very well-thought-out plans on how they might kill themselves. They tend to run through various scenarios trying to pin down how they will do it.
If you or anyone you know have any of these causes, signs, and symptoms, please seek immediate professional help. You won’t just snap out of it; it won’t just go away.
Don’t be ashamed, because depression is a real illness with real help for anyone who seeks it.
If you’re enjoying this post, check out the mini-ebook here to help with depression in your friends and loved ones.
The Difference between Depression and a Low Mood
Everybody encounters depression and a low mood sometimes. Ordinarily, this is identified with an occasion in life, for example, working extended periods of time or an injury that you’re adapting to. In any case, states of being caused by low moods usually pass.
At the point when a low state of mind doesn’t pass, typically around two weeks, or you can’t recognize why you’re feeling terrible, at that point you might be experiencing depression.
Also, there are different diseases that you can encourage the onset of depression, for example, a thyroid issue, low vitamin D3 levels in the blood, and even anxiety. It’s important that you look for expert analysis to guarantee that what you truly have is depression in order to treat your condition.
Keep in mind that sadness like other feelings is a legitimate, human feeling. Everybody who feels low isn’t depressed. When you’re feeling sad or low, it’s reasonable that somebody can make you upbeat again, or you can tune in to happy music, or do your most loved past-time and can find joy. However, as communicated above, when you are depressed you can’t discover joy in even the things that used to give you bliss, regardless of what they are.
Depression may happen even at the most joyful times since it has nothing to do with outward occasions. While it’s valid that occasionally sadness can be activated by an ordinary life occasion that you’re experiencing difficulty tolerating and getting over, typically it simply occurs for what appears like no reason.
It’s almost the same as getting another sickness, for example, diabetes. It has a physiological reason for happening even if you’re not totally sure yet what causes it, but it has a treatment that can help you manage it or cure it.
When you are depressed, you can’t simply snap out of it. You can’t simply tune in to a cheerful tune, play with your children, go for a walk, read positive things, or compose a diary and anticipate that it will magically disappear.
Causes of Depression
Keep in mind that while these are considered causes, not everyone who has these issues has depression. Since only about 7 percent of the US population has depression, you can assume that more than 7 percent of the population has experienced one or more of these causes yet did not develop depression.
Abuse – If you have a past where you experienced any type of abuse, whether as a child or an adult, you may be more likely to experience a major depressive episode that requires you to seek professional treatment.
Medication – There are drugs that are supposed to treat other illnesses that can bring on depression in some individuals. Some acne drugs, antiviral drugs, and corticosteroids all increase your risk of developing major depression.
Conflict – Often someone who is susceptible to depressive episodes will develop worse symptoms when there is a lot of conflict with the family and inner circle of friends. In addition, crime victims often develop depression due to the powerlessness and shame they experience.
Loss – Most people experience a loss, financial or death, and can overcome it. But people who are predisposed to become depressed might find that their loss is a trigger to severe major depression.
Genetics – There is evidence that these mental disorders run in families. If anyone in your family suffers from depression, you are more likely to also suffer, but it’s not a sure thing that you will.
Science still does not know the mechanisms behind what triggers depression or the gene that may cause it. If you have a parent or sibling with depression, you may be three times more likely to develop it.
Personal Problems – Some people with major depression have personal problems that make them outcasts to their family and their circle. This can cause someone who already has issues to become even worse. This can sadly happen for people whose sexuality and gender identity issues are not accepted by loved ones.
Serious Illness – Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic pain, and other serious illness can be a trigger for major depression. When someone’s life changes suddenly due to an illness, it can be hard to cope with and accept the new reality.
Postpartum Hormones – If you’ve just had a baby and are feeling like you’re not connecting with baby, this can lea to depression. Prenatal care and postpartum help can alleviate these feelings.
Substance Abuse – When it comes to substance abuse, it’s not always clear what came first: the depression or the addiction. Many people believe that substance abusers often are self-medicating to overcome their depression or other illnesses, and then end up making their situation worse with a major depressive episode.
These are all potential causes of depression. However, keep in mind that it’s possible that these are just triggers for someone who already had the right genetic makeup to suffer from depression since many people experience these things without suffering from depressive disorders.
Self-Help Strategies for Dealing with Depression
There are some things you can do on your own to help yourself cope with depression. However, this doesn’t work for everyone. Depression isn’t typically something you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps to cure. But you can try these things to deal with depression and help yourself.
Sleep Control – There are some studies that show that sleep control can help improve depression – specifically sleep deprivation, which we mentioned earlier. This is not a good thing for people with bipolar disorder to do, however.
Basically, the way it works is you limit sleep to six or seven hours a night and do not allow yourself to nap or sleep between your specific sleep time. Research “Wake Therapy” to find strategies for this type of remedy.
Exercise – You know the deal. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good. You may not feel that great while you’re doing it, but almost without exception, people feel better when it’s over. Try to at least get outside and walk for 20 to 30 minutes a day. You’ll get the added benefit of more vitamin D, which can also help.
Diet – If you are eating poorly, just improving your diet can help. But, consider that the brain uses glucose to work. If you aren’t eating enough vegetables and fruit, you may not be getting enough glucose. Some people on low-carb diets who aren’t eating enough vegetables can experience signs of depression when it’s just their diet.
Vitamins – It’s a good idea to ask your doctor to do a blood test to test for vitamin levels. Vitamins like B12, B3, and B6 can be missing from your diet. In addition, many people who suffer from depression have vitamin D deficiencies.
Journaling – It’s helpful to write down your feelings each day, but you also want to write down good thoughts. The brain tends to focus on anything you think about, so if you think about the positives in your life while keeping a gratitude journal, you may find that you feel better.
Meditate – Starting a meditation practice can help you in many ways. It’s good to try to focus on nothing for a short period of time each day and only focus on breathing. Meditation releases resistance in your mind and centres you in the present moment. This allows positive feelings to penetrate if even for a few moments. A daily practice will gradually improve your life.
Light Therapy – For some people who have seasonal depression, light therapy can help. The key is to do it in the morning before 10 or 11 am, only for about 10 to 15 minutes, and to never do it at night.
Some people only need to do it occasionally, but you want to do it prior to the symptoms developing rather than after they’ve already started.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption – While you may love your nightly glass of wine, for some people it can make them more depressed. You may feel temporarily lighter when you feel that buzz from the alcohol, but it can cause problems the next day.
Avoid Self-Medication – Any type of self-medication, whether from legal or illegal drugs, is a bad idea for depression. Many drugs that people choose (such as alcohol, cannabis and so forth) can be depressants and can cause your symptoms to get worse.
Do Things You Used to Enjoy – Even though you don’t feel like doing things, the worst thing you can do is isolate yourself. You don’t have to be as active as you were, but try to do something you used to love at least weekly. It’ll make you feel part of the process of life.
Try Something New – As we age, we change. Maybe you don’t like the things you used to do anymore, but you’re stuck. Why not find something new to try? You may find a whole new love for something you never considered before.
Talk to People You Trust – Hopefully, you have some people in your life that you can trust to talk to about what you’re going through. You don’t have to spill all the beans all the time, but if you have just one person to confide in, it can make life feel better.
Get into Nature – The best thing anyone can do for their mood and overall health is to get back to nature. If you live in a city, it can be hard. But, often there are zoos and atriums and other ways to get into nature such as parks. Try to get outside at least once a day for just 20 to 30 minutes.
Find Support – Sometimes you need support outside of your friends and family. Thankfully, today there are Facebook groups, Meetups.com, and other ways to find support groups for almost any type of condition.
Try out a few different groups so that you can find the right one for you.
The best way to approach self-help is to make goals for yourself that you can accomplish within a short period of time. The more you experience success, the more you’ll stick to your plan. But, if you do these things on your own and you are getting worse (be honest), please seek professional help.