LEARN MORE ABOUT DEPRESSION

“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”
― Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss

Photo by Anh Nguyen on Unsplash

Mental illness affects tens of millions of people in the United States. Depression is by far the most prevalent, representing 99% of all mind-brain illness. (Schizophrenia and major psychotic illness represent the remaining 1%). 

The umbrella of depression encompasses Major Depressive Disorder and its related mood disorders including bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, anxiety disorder, and suicide.

Depression is a common, but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities; such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks.

If you experience these symptoms consistently for most of the day or nearly every day for 2 weeks you might be suffering from depression:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Moving or talking more slowly
  • Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

Depression doesn’t look or feel the same for everyone. Different individuals might be affected by all symptoms or just a few, with varying degrees of intensity.

This also means different individuals will benefit from different treatments or mental health approaches and diagnosis. It is important to note mental health is greatly influenced by physical health and some symptoms might be caused by a physical condition. Please talk to a doctor as well as a mental health professional.

Depression is a condition that can bring many questions. The journey towards emotional health can seem scary, confusing, or daunting at times because it requires us to acknowledge something is not right. In order to be able to overcome our struggles, first, we must be aware of them and, second, decide what actions can we take to improve what is not working or hurting us.

When working towards building healthy coping methods and making healthy changes in our lives, it is always important to focus on things that are within our control by making realistic goals.

Focusing on factors we can control in our lives helps us feel empowered and take charge. Controllable factors include what we say and do, our perspective on different situations, how we handle and act in relationships, our self-awareness, our eating, sleeping, and exercise, etc.

Identifying factors that we can control helps set realistic goals we can reach, increase introspection, encourage healthy behaviors and boost self-esteem.

DEPRESSION MYTHS DEBUNKED

  1. DEPRESSION IS ALL IN YOUR HEAD

Depression is a psychological, social, and biological disorder. It can be chronic and takes treatment to manage. Someone who is depressed can’t just shut it off or “suck it up.”

The general public only sees the emotional side of depression-like acting out or not acting like yourself. If we took the time to realize that depression is a condition that causes physical issues as well, maybe we would see that depression is a real disease that takes time and treatment to manage.

2. MEDICATION IS THE ONLY WAY TO HANDLE DEPRESSION

Medication is only one way of treatment. There are other treatments that might not require medication or will work together with it. Therapy techniques including CBT, EMDR, DBT and Art therapy can help depression. Neurofeedback targets specific brainwaves training that can help enhance brain functioning and help depression by boosting positive thinking and self-awareness.

3. EVERYONE EXPERIENCES DEPRESSION THE SAME WAY

People who experience depression may have physical differences in their brains than the average person. These differences don’t always act the same way in everyone’s brain. The changes in the brain, plus hormone changes, can influence the severity of moods, thoughts, and physical issues.

4. DEPRESSION IS A SIGN OF WEAKNESS

Depression does not discriminate. You do not decide to become depressed. The only reason depression is viewed as a weakness is that society has stigmatized the condition. Depression is a biological and psychological condition that has nothing to do with how strong you are.

5. DEPRESSION COMMONLY HAPPENS TO WOMEN

t’s not that there isn’t any depression in men, it’s just that men don’t talk about it as often as women. In the U.S., four times as many men die by suicide than women. Some men believe that talking about their emotions is silly or pathetic. Some men avoid treatments for depression in fear that they will no longer appear masculine or strong.  Some symptoms of depression in men, additional to the ones mentioned above, include anger, unable to meet daily responsibilities, loss of interest in sex.

“The strongest people are those who win battles we know nothing about.”

– Unknown

“Don’t let your struggle become your identity.”

– Unknown

Source: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

Depression– The Basics

While everyone will experience high points and low points in their lifetime, the degree to which everyone experiences their highs and lows varies greatly.

For those who experience more extreme low points, it can be hard to know if or when you should seek help. In this post, we will discuss the symptoms of depression and where you can find help to better manage your low points in life.

There is a difference between feeling depressed and struggling with depression.

Feelings of depression are fleeting and don’t last longer than a day or two. Depression lasts for days, weeks, or other long periods of time and usually is accompanied by changes in weight, sleep, appetite, and mood.

Dealing With Depression: Symptoms

Depression Symptoms: Mood/ Cognitive
  • A feeling of hopelessness, helpless,
  • Mood swings
  • Intense sadness or feeling “empty”
  • Anxiety
  • Apathy
  • Loss of interest
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Repetitive thoughts
  • Lack of concentration
  • A bleak outlook on life
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Self-criticism
Depression Symptoms: Behavioral
  • Isolation
Depression Symptoms: Physical
  • Weight gain
  • Emotional eating
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Restless sleep
  • insomnia
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Unexplainable aches and pains
  • Frequent upset stomach
Suicide Signs and symptoms

Suicide and suicidal thoughts are not only associated with depression but can be linked to other mental disorders. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be at higher risk for suicide.

  • Hopelessness 
  • Excessive sadness
  • Excessive moodiness
  • Sleep problems
  • Sudden calmness
  • Withdrawal

“Choosing to be alone and avoiding friends or social activities also are possible symptoms of depression, a leading cause of suicide. This includes the loss of interest or pleasure in activities the person previously enjoyed.”

WebMD
  • Changes in personality and/or appearance

“A person who is considering suicide might exhibit a change in attitude or behavior, such as speaking or moving with unusual speed or slowness. In addition, the person might suddenly become less concerned about his or her personal appearance.”

WebMD
  • Dangerous or self-harmful behavior
  • Recent trauma or life crisis
  • Threatening Suicide
  • Making preparations

“Often, a person considering suicide will begin to put his or her personal business in order. This might include visiting friends and family members, giving away personal possessions, making a will, and cleaning up his or her room or home. Some people will write a note before committing suicide. Some will buy a firearm or other means like poison.”

WebMD

Finding a therapist

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, a therapist will be able to help you and can give you more resources or tools for recovery.

Are you nervous about going to see a therapist? Don’t worry, you still have options.

If dealing with depression is making it hard for you to get out of bed, you can talk to a therapist in your pajamas, from the comfort of your own home.

Today’s technologically enhanced world allows you the opportunity to talk with a licensed therapist through phone calls, online chats, or mobile apps. Such options include Talk Space, Better Help, Regain, Teen Counseling, and Break Through.

You can also set up a Skype or regular phone call with a therapist who does telehealth appointments. By visiting Psychology Today you can search for providers in your area. Once you put in your geographic area, on the left-hand side there is an option to search for providers who offer online services.

Living life with depression is hard enough. Don’t try to tackle it all on your own.

The National Network of Depression Centers also keeps a list of online resources that could be helpful.

To get more understanding about dealing with depression, watch this video called, “I had a blag dog, his name was depression” from the World Health Organization.

If you’re looking for more ways to help you deal with depression, the National Institute of Mental Health also gives great explanations about medication and other therapies that can be helpful for someone dealing with depression.