What is depression?
After anxiety, depression is one of the most frequently diagnosed mental health illnesses within the United States. Depression is something that everyone feels at some point during their life, however, most people are able to work through their feelings of sadness and continue with everyday life. On the other hand, there are those individuals who continue to struggle, and their quality of life begins to deteriorate. Depression is more than just sadness.
Because most mental health issues cannot be seen with the naked eye many people question if depression is real. I continue to hear comments like “they just need to get over it” or “are they faking it”? When trying to explain depression there are those who “just don’t get it”. Trying to explain depression can be difficult. I found a great blog that gives spot on analogies of just how depression can feel sometimes. Depression, to say the least, is many things and It’s very real for many people.
How do I know if I’m depressed and not just sad?
That’s a good question. I always encourage people to become familiar with and educate themselves. Talk to family and friends about what they’ve observed regarding your behaviors and emotions. Ask them if they see any patters. Take a short quiz to determine if you have depression symptoms. In addition, I also suggest journalling about your feelings, thoughts and behaviors because getting that information out of your brain helps with overall reduced anxiety. Once you’ve noticed some patterns or ongoing symptoms, it may be time to consult a professional for support.
What are symptoms of depression?
Here is a comprehensive list of possible symptoms to look for on a consistent basis:
- Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest of pleasure in activities, mood swings, racing thoughts or sadness
- Sleep: early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep
- Whole body: excessive hunger or poor appetite, fatigue, loss of appetite or restless sleep
- Behavioral: agitation, excessive crying, irritability or social isolation
- Cognitive: lack of concentration, slowness in activity or thoughts of suicide
- Weight: weight gain or weight loss
- Suicidal ideation or thoughts
Does everyone get depressed?
Although men, women and children can experience depression, women are more likely than men to have some sort of bout with depression during their lifetime. Research has been conducted regarding human biology and has shown that depression can be passed through the genetic makeup from parent to child. Some of us have a predisposition or likelihood of developing depression due to our DNA and in combination with environmental and social factors that makes the probability of developing depression much higher.
From a social perspective, many individuals develop depression due to strained relationships, change or loss of employment as well as financial stress or just the everyday challenge of a healthy work-life balance. In addition, a history of mental health issues such as mood disorders or chronic anxiety, makes the probability of developing depression much higher. History of past abuse as well as certain medications can also contribute to the development of depression.
Psychologically, the tendency to ruminate or recycle emotions has been shown to directly impact having a healthy life perspective. In addition, those who struggle to self-soothe or distract themselves from an ongoing negative emotional state are more likely to develop symptoms of depression. Lastly, more women than men struggle with negative body image as well as stress-induced depression. These are only indicators and not a guarantee of depression developing.
What can I do to help my depression get better?
There are many treatment options available f depression is diagnosed. Once you’ve seen a professional and have been diagnosed with depression, it is important to consider all of the possible treatment options available to you. Because there are many contributing factors to depression there are also many possible contributing solutions. Remember that journal I talked about earlier? Because you were proactive, you are now armed with loads of information to assist you with developing goals to address your depression! You can be an active participant in developing a working plan because you are empowered with information about your emotions, thoughts and behaviors in relationship to your overall mental health well-being.
What’s the next step?
As a more holistic mental health professional, I encourage individuals to begin with lifestyle changes first to counter their depression. Consistent and regular aerobic exercise, reducing caffeine as well as sugar intake and a strong social support group are very important and effective ways to begin your mental health journey. Nutritional intake has also been directly linked to mental health and an overall sense of well-being so make sure to eat healthy whole foods. Low blood-sugar, hormone imbalance and chronic illness is also a huge factor of depression. One of the most powerful ways to positively impact your depression is to be proactive and utilize tools within your Mental Health Toolbox to help with day-to-day life challenges.
There is no one-size-fits all solution for working through and developing realistic skills to effectively manage our emotions. Therapy approaches that work for one person may not work for another. I believe that one of the most important components of mental health treatment is the therapeutic relationship. Whether you have only tried talk therapy or you have worked with a therapist who didn’t “click” with you, I urge you not to give up. I am a trained psychotherapist with a unique perspective and approach, and I believe the modalities I use can truly help. If we work together for a while and you don’t see the growth you expect, you can always end therapy whenever you wish. But, you have nothing to lose by trying. Please request your free 30-minute consultation at the top of the page or call 816.729.6122 to speak with me directly. Good luck and take care!