It’s never easy when feeling depressed. Your body and mind don’t do what you want them to, and they seem like they’re at war with you. Fighting against yourself by not trusting your thoughts and instincts can be difficult, but there are circumstances when it’s necessary.
Typically, our moods are well-regulated because our hormones, sleep patterns, and general rhythms are functioning well. When they are not functioning well, however, mood swings and erratic behavior can result.
Depression is a common mental health concern in the United States, with around 8% of all adults having at least one major depressive episode. Depression also affects adolescents and younger children. Regardless of age, it can affect a person’s ability to enjoy life and function in daily life.
If you’re feeling depressed, you may experience big changes, but depression can also subtly affect how you think, feel, and act. This is why it is helpful to understand depression and seek help sooner than later.
Depression is a mood disorder.
Depression is more than just feeling sad or down for some time. A better way to think about depression is as a mood disorder that affects how you think, act, and feel. That means that the issue goes deep and is more than a passing feeling that you snap out of or a funk that will go away on its own.
There are different types of depression that can be categorized according to the intensity and persistence of the symptoms, as well as what triggers the mood disorder.
Some types of depression include Seasonal Affective Depression (SAD) which is when mood changes are linked to changes in the seasons, peripartum or perinatal depression which occurs during or after pregnancy and affects both men and women, and major depressive disorder, which is what many people refer to when talking about depression.
As a mood disorder, depression requires treatment to be addressed properly, as the underlying causes won’t disappear on their own. Not only that, but treatment can also help address the unhelpful thoughts and behaviors that accompany depression and that one should be on guard against, such as being irritable with loved ones, low self-esteem, and feelings of hopelessness.
Signs of depression to look out for.
Being alert to the symptoms of depression can save a life, whether your own or that of a loved one. When a person is feeling depressed, they don’t think, act, or feel like they would under normal circumstances. When you feel sad, that can color everything you experience, and depression is more intense than sadness.
Some people have described feeling depressed like being in a fog – you’re unable to think clearly or understand what’s happening around you. When you see these symptoms, it’s important to seek help from your doctor or a mental health professional like a psychiatrist or counselor.
While not everyone will experience all of these symptoms or experience them with the same intensity, you can be on the lookout for the following:
Withdrawing from your life. If you find yourself losing interest or pleasure in the things that you used to get excited by, that might be a sign of depression. You may find yourself withdrawing from family and friends, and no longer enjoying normal activities such as sports, hobbies, or sex.
Being irritable and angry beyond what’s reasonable. You may have angry outbursts at the slightest provocation.
Suicidal ideation. You may find yourself having frequent or recurring thoughts about death, or you may think about suicide or even make suicide attempts.
Trouble sleeping. You may find yourself out of your usual rhythm, either having trouble falling and staying asleep or sleeping too much.
Changes in your eating habits, such as losing your appetite and eating very little, or having increased cravings and eating more than usual.
Difficulty with mental activity. One may experience sluggish thinking, and struggle to concentrate and remember things. This can make decision-making difficult.
Drastic weight changes. Connected with changes in eating habits, one may lose a lot of weight, or find themselves gaining a lot of weight.
Lack of self-care. When a person is feeling depressed, they may let go of self-care habits such as bathing, grooming, eating well, and getting exercise.
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt. One may find themselves having low self-esteem, fixating on past failures, or blaming themselves for past events.
Feeling sad, tearful, empty, or hopeless. Depression can make a person feel like there’s no way out, and that there’s no pleasure to be found in life.
Feeling fatigued and a lack of energy. Even after sleeping for an adequate number of hours, one may feel tired, making even small tasks seem large and as though they require extra effort
Feeling anxious, agitated, or restless.
Somatic pain. Depression can result in unexplained physical problems, such as body aches, nausea, muscle tension, back pain, or headaches.
Anyone can get depressed. It doesn’t matter how old you are, your gender, socio-economic bracket, ethnicity, or religious beliefs. We live in a broken world, and part of living through that reality of brokenness is that our bodies and minds don’t always function as they ought. Thankfully, the Lord has made treatment options available to address depression and its symptoms.
What to do if you’re feeling depressed.
If you or a loved one experience these symptoms, especially if they persist for two weeks or more, you should seek help immediately from a doctor or a mental health professional. Depression is a serious mental health issue, and it should not be taken lightly. Instead of thinking it’ll blow over or ignoring the symptoms, seek help.
The first step if you’re feeling depressed is to tell someone. A loved one can walk with you and keep track of your symptoms. It is also important to seek help from a professional such as a doctor or mental health expert. This will allow you to get an accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan.
Should you get diagnosed with depression it’s quite likely that you’ll have a combination of regular counseling and medication. Your doctor will put together a treatment plan that fits your circumstances, and part of that plan may also include having your family as part of your support structure.
Your friends and family can help you be consistent in taking your medication, getting to your counseling appointments, as well as keeping up with other areas of your health such as what you eat and getting some exercise.
There are a few things that will help you on your journey as you deal with depression, and these include:
Stick to your treatment plan. Keep taking your prescribed medication. If the side effects are serious and are affecting your everyday life, let your doctor know. They can change your medication or the dosage until it works for you. Keep going for counseling to help reinforce healthy thought and behavior patterns while exposing and disrupting unhealthy ones.
Take care of your physical health. Exercise, sleep, and eat well. Doing this will help you keep your health up and exercise can also help elevate your mood through the release of feel-good neurochemicals.
Embrace your support network. Don’t ditch church, friends, or family, though you may feel inclined to withdraw from them. Allow people to draw close and minister to you through prayer, visits, making meals, and providing support. Go for walks with people, which gets you up and about and helps you connect with others.
Take it easy. Don’t make huge decisions like starting a new relationship, moving house, or leaving your job when you’re feeling depressed. It may also help to simplify your tasks and break your day up into manageable portions, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
Create firm boundaries so you don’t overextend yourself. While it’s important to connect with others and allow your support network to be present in your life, it’s also important to maintain healthy boundaries so that you don’t exhaust yourself. These boundaries can also extend to work and learning to say “No” to certain things you’re asked to do.
Depression can be overcome. If you or a loved one are dealing with depression, don’t do so alone. Seek help and schedule an appointment with a doctor or a mental health professional. The counselors in our office can help. Call today.
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