“A lot of people don’t realize that depression is an illness. I don’t wish it on anyone, but if they would know how it feels, I swear they would think twice before they just shrug it off.”
– Jonathan Davis
Trying to lift the dark cloud of depression can sometimes feel like an impossible task. Depression is a tragic but real fact of life that must be addressed and never ignored or swept under the carpet.
Depression does not make you emotionally or mentally weaker than anybody else. Just like the common cold or flu, depression is an illness – one that has affected and continues to plague millions of people all over the world.
It’s possible that the mildest form of depression would gradually vanish for good even without treatment. But more often than not, without any proper treatment, depression is only likely to worsen and – in a worst case scenario – may result in suicide and other similarly undesirable outcomes.
THE SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
Now that you understand how depression is considered an illness, the next thing you should know is what signs you must look for to determine if you or another person is depressed or not.
• Do you or another person exhibit a prolonged state of pessimism?
• Do you or another person frequently feel worthless, empty, and anxious?
• Have you or another person lost interest in the usual activities he or she normally enjoyed?
• Are you or another person having trouble sleeping?
• Are you or another person undergoing any kind of stress?
• Have you or another other person lost or gained a significant amount of weight?
• Are you or another person showing frequent signs of heightened irritability and restlessness?
If more than one factor applies in your case or a loved one, then depression is likely to be the cause of all of these symptoms.
THE CAUSES OF DEPRESSION
There is no one strict and official cause for depression simply because there are just too many factors to consider. More often than not, though, this particular illness has to do with alcohol and drug problems, pregnancy and other major hormonal changes, anxiety and stress, and insomnia or other sleep-related issues. Strictly speaking, though, most experts believe that depression can result from a myriad of psychological, environmental, biochemical, and genetic factors.
So, mental depression can wear many faces. At one end of the scale, it can show up as the common, short term or blue feeling we all experience after hearing bad news, the loss of something we held dear to us, or a blow to the ego. These ‘blue’ feelings are generally not long lasting and usually disappear within a few days. At the other end of the scale are chronic or long-term crippling emotions of hopelessness, emptiness, loss of self-esteem, guilt or shame.
Mental depression can be mild, moderate or severe so there is much ground in between these two extremes. Also, depression can be masked – a person may not even realize they are suffering from it, though they manifest the symptoms to others around them.
THE DIAGNOSIS FOR DEPRESSION
Being diagnosed for depression must be conducted by a qualified and licensed professional. During your initial medical interview, you should be as honest as possible. Let them know if you had a previous history with drugs or alcohol. From there, a combination of therapy, medication, or an alternative treatment may be used to combat your feelings of isolation and sadness.
THE TREATMENT FOR DEPRESSION
There are various ways to have depression treated, but it’s usually best and recommended by medical practitioners for depressed individuals to undergo a combination of treatments.
A majority of anti-depressants require a prescription but some may be available over the counter as well.
One of the most common types of therapies used for treating depression would be psychotherapy.
Many medical experts also believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle by exercising more frequently and eating nutritious foods can go a long way in eliminating depression in your life.
Below are a number of key strategies that you can use to help yourself, a friend or a family member. It only barely touches the subject, so I would encourage people to research the topic further through the internet, books and self-help groups. Remember, knowledge is power!
• The number one rule when it comes to depression is to TALK. You MUST TALK about issues that are concerning you. The very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. But always remember, difficult doesn’t mean impossible.
• To recover from depression means you must TAKE ACTION. But taking action when you’re depressed is not easy. In fact, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like going for a short walk or spending time with family and friends, can be exhausting. It’s like a Catch-22 situation: The things that can help you the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. But, like I just said above, difficult doesn’t mean impossible.
• Whether we like it or not, we are social creatures. However, isolation and loneliness only compounds depression. That’s not to take away from the fact that every person needs ‘alone time’ for contemplation and reflection. That’s only natural and perfectly understandable. It’s only when isolation and loneliness becomes the normal way of our existence that it causes depression to take hold and control our lives. This is where SUPPORT becomes so vital. We all need a helping hand at some stage in our lives. There’s no shame in it. Why should there be? After all, we’re all human beings with the same needs and problems like everybody else. Getting SUPPORT from family, friends and self-help groups is a vital key in overcoming depression.
• The way to conquer depression is to set small GOALS and build it up from there. One small step at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day! It takes time to make changes in your life. It takes about 3-4 weeks for a person to break a bad habit and you need to give yourself at least the same amount of time to develop a good one! You have to give yourself a chance.
• You must TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. When a person is depressed, personal hygiene usually takes a back seat. Just having a shower and rubbing yourself down hard with a towel will circulate the blood around your body and give you a healthy color. It will make you feel good about yourself. Also, if you eat crap, you’ll probably feel like crap. Try to go for as much natural food as you can. Fruit and vegetables aren’t really all that bad. In fact, just trying them on a regular basis will make you wonder why you don’t indulge more often! And finally, the dreaded exercise lecture! Let me put it this way: Just do it! One small step at a time will become one giant leap for your body fat index!
If you’ve tried some of these strategies and they don’t seem to be working for you, you may need to seek professional help. There are amazing advancements made in medicine every day that can make a huge difference in a person’s life. Talk to your family doctor and get the support you need.