How to Deal with Depression
Depression can be a debilitating condition and it’s not the same as feeling sad. In fact, feeling sad from time to time is quite normal. But when you’re faced with emotions like despair and hopelessness that just won’t go away, you may be experiencing depression.
Depression can alter the way you feel, think and function in day-to-day activities. It can interfere with your ability to eat, sleep, work, study and enjoy life. It can be overwhelming just trying to get through the day.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a mental disorder that is motivated by excessive sadness, low motivation and a complete loss of interest in things previously enjoyed. Depression is more common than you think and affects people from all walks of life. One in three people will experience depression at least once in their lives. While most depression cases are mild, 1 out of 10 people will experience a moderate to severe incident.
Types of Depression
Not all types of depression are the same. Current research reveals at least eight different types of depression.
- Chronic Depression (Dysthymia)
Oftentimes, people who experience mild depression may not even realize they are depressed. Their ‘chronic sadness’ may start to feel normal to them, having been around for so long. But, it’s not normal to feel unhappy all the time. This milder form of depression affects millions of people around the world.
- Major Depression
Much less common than mild depression, major depression can last up to 6 months at a time if left untreated. While some might experience a single major depressive encounter, more often than not major depression is a recurring disorder.
- Atypical Depression
Atypical depression is anything but unusual or uncommon. Many people with this type of depression don’t have the typical depression symptoms which means that their depressed mood can easily be lifted with positive occurrences. However, they may still struggle with normal daily tasks and often feel like life isn’t worth the effort.
- Postpartum Depression
Postpartum depression is linked to psychological and chemical changes after having a baby. Complicated emotional, physical, and behavioural changes can happen to a woman after giving birth. This type of depression is becoming increasingly common.
- Bipolar Depression (Manic Depression)
Typically, people who have bipolar disorder, go through periods of mania or depression. While not the same for everyone who has it, they may experience frequent mood swings – from major depression lows to elated highs of mania.
- Seasonal Depression (SAD)
Do you get depressed during certain times of the year? SAD is a mood disorder that occurs every year at around the same time. In most cases, it starts in Autumn and lasts throughout Winter, and finally ends in Spring.
- Psychotic Depression
A person who is psychotic is out of touch with reality. Psychotic depression is a temporary mental state identified by abnormal thoughts that may include hallucinations and delusions. Due to an increased risk of self-harm, this type of depression is taken very serious by health professionals.
- Treatment-Resistant Depression
Also known as refractory depression, this type of depression can leave you feeling discouraged and hopeless. Months or even years can go by without any relief.
What Causes Depression?
With the extensive research done on a daily basis, no one can say for sure what causes depression. Many cases of depression point to genetic factors. It seems that around 30% of all depression episodes are linked to genetics and runs in the family.
Another factor that can contribute to depression is stressful life events. Continual conflict with others can destroy your well-being. Other stress factors include unemployment, financial stress, retirement, loneliness, childbirth and grief. If you’re in a vulnerable place, these unpleasant events may be all that’s needed to cause or aggravate depression.
An important factor is a person’s personality characteristics. People who are depressed typically view themselves and the world in a negative way. Bad things seem overwhelming and they don’t appreciate the good things.
Risk Factors That Make You More Susceptible to Depression
Depression isn’t like other illnesses with straightforward medical causes. It’s more complicated, making treatment challenging. It can’t simply be cured with medication because it’s more than just a chemical imbalance in the brain (as previously believed). Depression is caused by a combination of psychological, biological and social factors, thus, relationships, lifestyle choices and coping skills matter as much as genetics.
- Isolation and loneliness
- Family history of depression
- Stressful life experiences
- Lack of social support
- Relationship or marital problems
- Financial stress
- Early childhood abuse or trauma
- Drug or alcohol
- Health issues or chronic pain
Common Depression Symptoms
Psychological symptoms: The psychological symptoms of depression include:
- constant sadness or low mood
- feeling hopeless
- low self-esteem
- feeling tearful
- feelings of guilt
- Irritability and intolerance
- no motivation
- no interest in things previously enjoyed
- difficulty make decisions
- not enjoying life
- anxious feelings
- suicidal or self-harming thoughts
Physical symptoms: The physical symptoms of depression include:
- speaking or moving more slowly than usual
- changes in appetite
- excessive weight gain or weight loss
- lack of energy
- unexplained aches and pains
- loss of libido
- sleep difficulties
Social symptoms: The social symptoms of depression include:
- neglecting hobbies and interests
- not performing at work
- isolation – avoiding contact with friends and not taking part in social activities
- difficulties in your family life
Grief and Depression
Distinguishing between depression and grief can be difficult. They are completely different, even though they share many of the same characteristics. Depression is an illness while grief is a natural response to the loss of a loved one.
People who are grieving a loss find their feelings of sadness come and go. They can still look forward to the future and enjoy things. Alternatively, people who suffer from depression constantly feel sad. They aren’t positive about the future and don’t enjoy anything they used to take pleasure in.
How to Overcome Depression
There are many different treatment options available that have proven successful in treating depression. These treatment options include:
- Behaviour therapy
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
- Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
- Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)
One of the most effective ways to overcome depression is through mindfulness practices. This type of therapy won’t change your thoughts or feelings, but your relationship to them. This will enable someone who tends to depression to not get carried away by the feelings and thoughts that contributes to their depression.
Another way people who are fighting depression can benefit from mindfulness practice is that it will help them tolerate and regulate their emotions better.
Treating Depression Naturally
Eat healthy. While there isn’t a magic diet you can follow to cure depression, eating nutritious meals and drinking enough water will make your body feel better. People with depression tend to overeat, making them feel worse than they already feel.
Exercise. Moving your body boosts endorphins also known as feel-good chemicals in the brain. Regular exercise may also have long-term positive effects for people with depression since it encourages the brain to rewire itself.
Get enough sleep. Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms of depression and not getting enough sleep will make depression worse. It’s a vicious circle. If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, try not to nap during the day, get rid of distractions in the bedroom like your phone or TV and stick to a bedtime schedule.
Get in a routine. It’s vital to have a routine if you’re fighting depression. This illness can remove the structure from your life and one day can easily dissolve into the next. Setting a flexible schedule can help you feel like you’re accomplishing something and get you back on track.
Set goals. Depression can make you feel like you’re not achieving anything, making you feel even worse. Start by setting small achievable goals for yourself daily, even if it’s getting out of bed and getting dressed.
Meditate. Anxiety and stress are two of the biggest depression triggers. Meditation can help you change your reaction to those feelings by training your brain to maintain focus. When negative thoughts and emotions intrude, you just return to that focus. Daily meditation practice can help your brain better manage anxiety and stress that might activate depression.
Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW to Improve Depression Symptoms
Envision a happy memory. In a moment where depressive feelings overwhelm you, think about a time or place when you were truly happy.
Take care of your body. Get out of bed, get in the shower and make yourself a tasty, nutritious meal. Self-nurturing is still nurturing. You’ll feel much better mentally if your body is taken care of.
Interact with another real human being. If you’re feeling depressed, the feeling to avoid people is natural but not good for your condition at all. Phone a friend or a family member that understands your struggle with depression and just talk to them for a bit. If there isn’t anyone you can talk to, get out of the house, even if it’s to buy milk. Bright daylight and fresh air can be very helpful.
Meditate. Again, meditation works wonders for depression. If you don’t know how or you’re struggling to focus, try a guided meditation to get you going.
Book an appointment with an executive coach. By working with an executive coach, you will be able to identify the beliefs that are making you feel depressed and replace them with new beliefs of empowerment.
The first thing you need to have as a person fighting depression is compassion for yourself. You’ll need this to take the necessary actions to overcome depression, including seeking help. The situation is never hopeless so whatever you do, don’t listen to the critical inner voice that might be telling you otherwise.
There’s help available and there are many actions you can take to treat your condition. If you want to overcome depression for good, get in touch with an Integrative Coach right now!