Living with depression can feel exhausting. It drains your energy and leaves you feeling fatigued and empty. This often makes it difficult to take the right steps in bettering yourself. You probably know what makes you happy and what often makes you feel better, but depression makes these seem almost impossible.
The things that once brought you happiness seem the hardest to do. But while it may be difficult to take these first steps, it certainly isn't impossible. Overcoming depression is a long process, it can be persistent and severe, but it's important to remember that you do have more control than you may think.
Little things, such as dancing to your favorite song or speaking to a loved one over the phone, can boost your energy levels and put you in the right mood to take further steps. This could be cooking a nutritious meal or socializing with old friends. Doing these little things reminds you that you are in control and, slowly but surely, they add up to the bigger picture; you are fighting your depression so you are able to continue living a happy and fulfilling lifestyle.
Prescription medications have been proven to be effective and life-changing for many people suffering from depression; there are alternative options to help you work towards improved mental well-being.
In this article, we will discuss what depression actually is, the symptoms, and alternative methods to medication to help you overcome depression.
Depression, also known as major depressive disorder or clinical depression, is one of the most common mood disorders in the United States. In fact, it affects more than 8% of adults each year and 15% of children aged between twelve and seventeen. The disorder causes a constant feeling of sadness, low mood, and loss of interest in daily activities. It can affect how you think, feel, and behave, and often leads to many physical and emotional problems.
This mental illness cannot simply be 'snapped out of'; it is not a weakness but a medical condition. While there are some factors that increase the risk of developing addiction, the disorder can affect anyone at any stage of their life.
Depression differs from grief or sadness. Losing a loved one or being fired from a job is a difficult experience and feelings of sadness are common responses to situations similar to these. It's common for people to say that they are feeling depressed, however, feeling sad is not the same experience.
The grieving process definitely shares some similar features with depression, and they both involve intense sadness and withdrawal from typical or social activities. However, depressive episodes can last for longer than two weeks whereas grief comes and goes and is intermixed with positive thoughts and ideas. Of course, the two can co-exist as the death of a loved one or another traumatic event can eventually lead to depression.
As we now know, depressive disorders involve extended periods of intense sadness that disrupt a person being able to enjoy their life. Some common depressive disorders include:
This is the most common type of depression. It's characterized by an ongoing and often inescapable low mood that has a knock-on effect of causing you to have a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed as well as low self-esteem. To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, the symptoms are to be present almost every day for at least two weeks.
This refers to a long-lasting form of major depression. If an individual experiences depression symptoms for the majority of days for nearly two years, then they will be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder. The symptoms experienced are not as intense or severe as those that are present with a major depressive episode.
This form of depression is triggered after childbirth and can last anywhere from two weeks up to one year.
It is not uncommon for women to experience symptoms of depression, irritability, and tension in the lead-up to their menstruation; for those with PMDD, the experience of physical and emotional changes negatively impacts their lives.
This mood disorder is triggered by changes in sunlight during the fall and winter months and typically minimizes during the seasons of spring and summer
It is common for people living with bipolar disorder to experience a major depressive episode.
Symptoms of depression can vary from person to person. Although it can occur just once during your life, it is common for people to experience multiple episodes. Throughout these episodes, symptoms of depression will be experienced most of the day for nearly all days. Symptoms of mild to moderate depression include:
There are many coping strategies that those living with depression have utilized to help clear the fog that clouds those down days. Research suggests that small lifestyle changes can help you manage your symptoms of depression. Below are ten changes you can make to your daily routine to help you reduce symptoms of depression.
It can be difficult to keep a healthy and positive perspective and maintain the energy that is required to battle your depression. Similarly, living with depression makes it harder to reach out for help, and it's common for people to withdraw and isolate themselves from their loved ones.
Reaching out to those around you is not a sign of weakness. They care about you and want to support you through your difficult times. It's important to ensure that you have support around you. If you feel like you do not have people you can trust or turn to, you can try joining a support group, where you can meet others who are experiencing the same thing as you.
If you are unable to spend time with your loved ones face-to-face, try video chats or phone calls. It's always good to speak about how you are feeling.
Research states that physical activity and regular exercise can improve your mood and have been found to effectively aid in treating depression symptoms.
It can be difficult when exercise is the last thing you want to do, but moving your body and partaking in physical activity can help you in relieving your symptoms. This could even be a short walk around your local park.
Of course, there is no such thing as a magic diet that automatically cures your depression; however, food has been found to affect our mental health and moods.
Eating a balanced and healthy diet can keep you feeling physically well while preventing alternative health deficiencies. This includes foods such as:
There is no point in making a long to-do list that induces feelings of anxiety, for this will only make you feel more stressed. Instead, set small attainable goals that can provide you with a sense of accomplishment and control while helping you feel motivated.
Try and break your big goals into smaller ones. For example, if you are thinking about cleaning the house, why not set yourself smaller tasks such as taking the trash out or cleaning the floors? Eventually, the completion of these tasks will lead to a bigger goal.
Sleep experts have said that good sleep hygiene is essential to support your mental health. You need to ensure that you are getting a good night's sleep; this could be sleeping and waking up at the same time.
The relationship between depression and sleep is complicated. Not getting enough quality sleep can contribute to worsening depressive symptoms, and alternatively, depression can cause low-quality sleep.
Spending time outdoors can have a powerful impact on your mood. In fact, research has found that being outside in nature can boost an individual's mental health.
Sunlight can help boost levels of serotonin, which is our body's natural feel-good chemical. Consider spending more time outside on those sunny days, enjoying a picnic in the park, a hike, or even some gardening.
Mindfulness involves being present in the current moment to stop yourself from worrying about things in the past or future.
Consider writing in a journal about things you are feeling or experiencing; research has found that this can benefit in managing your mental health. Or try keeping a gratitude journal: start with writing something you are grateful for each day to help you focus on the positives.
Keeping your mind and body connected is key. This could be through deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or mindfulness meditation. It may seem, initially, difficult to focus, however, practice makes perfect. After a few attempts, you will experience the positive effects and learn to focus better.
Depression can make you lose interest in things you once enjoyed and that brought you happiness. If you try and push through and attempt to engage in things that make you happy, you can lift your energy and mood. Maybe this is watching a funny movie or listening to music.
Research shows that music can help strengthen your connection to positive emotions and can help boost your mood. Listening to music you enjoy can also boost your dopamine levels, a naturally occurring brain chemical that is associated with feelings of pleasure.
Doing something worthy with your time can give you a sense of purpose. Research has found that, at times, people who volunteer have better physical and mental health.
Finding a local volunteering opportunity and reaching out to help can aid in boosting your self-esteem and improving your mental health.
Depression can make you feel weak and powerless, bad things happen, and you believe there is nothing you can do. This is just depression speaking. It has the power of putting a negative spin on everything you encounter, see, and your expectations.
It may try and speak you out of self-care, but, if you learn to recognize the negative voice, you can learn to work with it, and not against it. Once you start to identify the negative thoughts, you can start to challenge them, maybe through questions such as:
The more you question your negative thoughts, the more you'll be able to process them which can have positive effects in helping improve your mood and your well-being.
Depression IS treatable. There is a range of treatment methods that have been proven to be effective in showing improvement. The most commonly used are antidepressant medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
A combination of the two has been proven to be most effective. The choice of treatment differs for all individuals, regarding the severity of the disorder, how long it has been present, and the pattern of the symptoms. For some, depression can be extremely stubborn to treat and may require alternative treatment methods.
Depression is a serious mental health condition that has the potential to get worse if you do not seek professional help.
At GIA Miami we know that depression is not the same for everyone. It's not a one-size-fits-all disorder which is why our state-of-the-art diagnostic technologies and a team of exceptional experts design an individualized treatment plan for all individuals. Our team of healthcare and wellness professionals offers the highest level of care to help you overcome depression.
We are aware that depression not only affects the individual but family members, friends, and other loved ones. Our treatment offers you and your loved ones a chance for a full recovery and to continue living your best life. At our treatment facilities, we offer a range of effective treatment methods to cover your overall well-being. You can expect:
If you believe you or a loved one is living with depression, then contact us today to discuss how our exceptional recovery programs can help you. We can guide you in returning to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
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