Depression Is Real. How
Can You Fight the Battle?
What is a depressive episode?
Sometimes it’s difficult to understand where that line actually is. When does sadness turn into depression? Here are a few things to look out for:
Your normal daily behaviours start to change for the worse. Daily life gets disrupted. Sleeping and healthy eating tend to suffer the most.
Sometimes it feels as through you’re navigating through a ‘fog’, tied down by fatigue, tiredness, and weight fluctations
Cognitive Functions, Thoughts, and Feelings
Thoughts and emotions can be highjacked by depression. Some things to look out for are:
- Feeling sad and hopeless nearly every day
- Lack of concentration
- Feeling guilt for past or present decisions or results
- Low self-esteem
- Hopeless about the future
- Recurrent thoughts about death
- Sudden crying episodes
- Feeling physically and mentally exhausted
Family and Social life
There is a progressive unwillingness for social interactions. It usually starts with procrastinating social gatherings and coming up with excuses to avoid contact. Sometimes, there can be a complete shutdown, with no desire for social interaction.
Can Anyone Suffer From Depression?
There isn’t just one singular cause of depression. There are in fact many. Depression is a result of psychological, environmental and biological factors.
Some risk factors are:
- Family history of depression
- Major life changes situations or trauma
- New physical impairments
- Deficient coping skills: low self-esteem, easily stressed, pessimistic, noncompassionate
- High levels of stress
- History of abuse, poverty, and neglect
Most Common Depressive Disorders
Dysthymia is a persistent depressive disorder. It combines major depression symptoms with less severe ones. They are permanently present and severely impact habits and personal life.
Usually the result of a combination of psychotic and depression symptoms. People suffering from psychotic depression may experience delusions, hallucinations, and psychotic beliefs, which are mixed with depressing thoughts.
Women feel severe depressive and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy and/or right after giving birth. Sadness, exhaustion, and anxiety usually get in the way of the mother-baby connection.
Mixed symptoms characterise this disorder. People suffering from bipolar often experience extreme opposites – a combination of mania: episodes of euphoric moods with major depression symptoms
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Winter can be hard for some people. This disorder appears during cold months when there’s less sunlight. People suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder experience feelings of sadness and continuous depression. These feelings and behaviours tend to disappear when springs come and return every winter.
Depression can be treated. Reaching out for help can be life-changing. A trained psychologist will work with you to develop the right toolkits and strategies to combat depression.
What else is needed?
- Love and Empathy: This is key for recovery from depression. Strong bonds with family and friends are helpful. But loving and supporting yourself is even more important. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that what you’re going through is common and often out of your control. It can be treated.
- Mindfulness: According to numerous studies, the practice of mindfulness has been shown to prevent depression recurrence and maintain a greater level of happiness over time. Mindfulness has also been shown to help with self-compassion and to improve coping skills.
Habits and Tips to Manage Depressive Symptoms
Gratitude is an amazing tool to focus on the good things that are happening in your life. It’s a powerful tool in helping you take in all aspects of your life – good and bad.
Every night before bed, think and write on a paper three things that you feel gratitude about that happened during the day. It could be a coffee with a friend, feeling healthy, feeling better, or having love in your life.
Moderate Alcohol Consumption
Depression and alcohol are usually – and unfortunately – very close friends.
Alcohol has been shown to alter brain chemistry in a way that is conducive to depression. Sometimes alcohol is used as a coping mechanism for unhappy thoughts and worries because of the short term feelings it can sometimes provide. In the medium to long term, depending on alcohol could actually be one of the worst things you can do to manage your depression.
Do you know that the vast majority of people with depression have sleep disturbances? A lack of sleep has been shown to directly impact mood.
To practice effective sleep hygiene:
- Avoid screens at least an hour before sleep time
- Practice a consistent bedtime every night
- Use your bedroom only for rest or intimate purposes. This will prevent your brain from associating your rest place with work or stress
Manage Your Stress Levels
Be aware of chronic stress. While stress itself prepares you for action and can make you more productive and proactive in some instances, it can become an issue when it becomes a constant. Stress over a long period of time has a negative impact on the body.
How To Manage Stress?
- Actively balance work and personal life
- Exercise. Science has been showed that exercise significantly increases serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that makes you feel “happy” and helps to combat feelings of stress
- Practice breathing and calming techniques
- Be in contact with nature. Science has shown that connecting more with nature can help to reduce feelings of stress
Depression is a silent enemy. It’s tough and it’s common. Many people expect it to ‘just go away’ without proper management. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out for a bit of help.