Depression is a serious medical illness that affects how you feel, think and behave and often lead to many emotional and physical problems. Although it often entails a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest, some individuals who suffer from depression feel empty or apathetic as opposed to sad, and some may even feel angry, aggressive or restless all the time.
Suffering from depression does not mean you are weak and it is not something that you can simply “snap out” of; it is a chronic illness that generally requires long-term treatment. It differs from normal feelings of sadness, as the feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness are extremely intense and don’t go away.
Symptoms of Depression:
Depression is a serious risk factor for suicide, so if you or someone you know is displaying symptoms of depression, you should seek help and support immediately.
Depression affects each individual differently, so symptoms will vary from person to person. It also affects men differently than women and adults differently than teens. This means that treatment for depression is also different for each person. Understanding the cause for the depression can help determine what treatment would be best.
Depression can be caused by a variety of things and is often a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. Certain life situations, however, can put you at a higher risk for depression.
Possible Causes & Risk Factors:
The best approach to recovery from depression includes social support, lifestyle changes, emotional skills building and professional help. Treatment will be different for each individual, but these four things should be involved in any treatment plan.
Depression causes feelings of being helpless and hopeless but just because you feel that way doesn’t mean the situation actually is hopeless. You do have the power to change your situation and the best way to start to do so is by taking the first small step forward and asking for help. Being isolated only fuels the depression so when you feel alone, reach out to others. Build a support system by letting your family and close friends know what’s been going on and how they can help support you. A strong support system will help your recovery be successful and move faster.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes:
– Cultivate supportive relationships
– Get regular exercise and sleep
– Eat healthy foods to naturally boost your mood
– Practice relaxation techniques
– Manage stress
– Challenge negative thought patterns
Learning to balance emotions and manage stress is very difficult, but will give you the ability to battle depression and cope from adversity, trauma and loss. When you can recognize and express your true emotions, it makes you more resilient and gives you more peace when facing difficult situations. Actively becoming more self-aware is the key to managing strong emotions.
Finding a professional to talk to about your depression is incredibly beneficial. There are many different treatment options, so it’s important to find the one that fits your situation and needs. Effective treatment for depression can include therapy, medication and alternative treatment, and a professional can help you discover the best treatment plan for you.
Therapy in itself will help you become more self-aware, learn how to detect and change negative thinking patterns and to develop new and healthy behavioral skills. It will help you get to the core of the depression and to learn coping strategies to manage emotions. Therapy is essential in breaking free from depression and developing skills to keep it from coming back.
Depression can have many different faces and fall into several different categories. In order to get the best possible treatment, it’s important to know which form of depression you are suffering from:
Being unable to enjoy life or experience pleasure. Symptoms are constant and range from moderate to severe and, left untreated, can last up to six months; however, major depression is often found to be a recurring disorder. Proper treatment can help lower the risk of the depression returning.
Chronic, “low-grade” depression. Periods of feeling mildly depressed may be broken up by short moments of “normal” moods. Symptoms are not as strong as those of major depression, but they can last for a very long time. Those who suffer from dysthymia may grow to believe their low mood feelings are simply a part of their personality and may believe they have always felt depressed. Treatment can help treat these feelings.
*It is possible to experience major depression episodes on top of dysthymia. This is known as “double depression.”*
New mothers may suffer from this form of depression, triggered by hormonal changes that occur when having a baby. It usually develops soon after delivery (although any depression occurring within six months of childbirth may be postpartum depression) and can be a long lasting, serious form of depression.
1-2% of the population suffers from this form of depression. It most often affects women and youth, although anyone can be affected. It is triggered by limited exposure to daylight during the fall and winter months and symptoms usually subside when spring comes.
Anxiety comes as the body’s natural response to a sense of danger and can be sparked by a stressful situation, feelings of being threatened, or being placed under pressure. Feeling a little bit of anxiety before facing a challenging situation is a normal part of life and can actually help the body to be more alert and focussed on problem solving. However, if feelings of anxiousness and fear become overwhelming and start interfering with daily life or impacting relationships and daily activities, it may be an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder: