Depression is first a mood disorder that can deteriorate to a mental health ailment. Depression can take many forms and it can affect anyone. To understand depression, you have to learn what it is and know how to identify it.
What is depression?
Depression is a widespread mental health disorder that affects over 350 million people globally. It is estimated that 10% of the general population will have it in their lifetime.
More predisposed than men, women are more affected by this disease, which can be explained in particular by postnatal depression which, as its name suggests, occurs after the birth of a baby.
Depending on the culture, cases of depression are more or less frequent. Considered an ailment, depression affects people of all ages and shows a clear possibility of reoccurrence.
What is the difference between sadness and depression?
Each life event has an impact on our mood and mental health, be it the death of a loved one, moving to a new environment, or loss of your job. The difference between sadness and depression is that you can get over sadness within a short time. Depression on the other hand is a mood disorder that occurs without a specific cause and can last for longer periods.
Depression affects almost every part of your life, affecting the way you think, feel, and carry out your daily activities such as sleeping, working, and socializing. Some common symptoms of depression include:
Feeling of emptiness
Constant feeling of exhaustion
Disorientation and lack of concentration
Insomnia (lack of sleep) or Hypersomnia (getting more sleep than normal)
Changes in appetite or weight
Feelings of hopelessness
Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
Irritability or restlessness
Pain with no clear physical cause
Thoughts of death or suicide
To be diagnosed with depression, these symptoms must be present most of the day, every day for at least two weeks.
What are the Causes of Depression?
Depression can happen to anyone for no reason or warning. Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders, with 8.7% of women and 5.3% of men suffering from depression each year. Research has shown that factors such as genetics, biology, environment, and psychology can play a role in depression.
It is important to note that depression can be either mild or severe, but even when mild, cases of depression should be taken seriously. Depression is not simply a "bad mood" or something someone can "break out" of, but luckily it is treatable.
How can One get out of Depression?
At first, depression is only an easy to overcome mood disorder. But when adequate care is not taken, it can deteriorate to a life-threatening mental health issue. There are many simple and practical ways to help yourself through this mood disorder, starting with imbibing a healthy self-care routine which is crucial to living a healthy, and happy life. From a healthy diet, to exercise, and everyday life plan, and your social interactions, there are numerous steps you can take to improve your mood. Be open to new approaches and understand that a combination of these self-care practices may be required before you notice a change in mood.
1. Eat junk-free healthy diets
What you eat can have a significant impact on your body and mind. While you may want to reach for snacks filled with sugar or fat when you feel bad, it's best to stick to a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. These food categories can improve your energy levels and keep you adequately nourished. Avoid skipping meals and try sticking to a regular menu. caffeinated beverages and alcoholic drinks can negatively affect your mood, so you should cut down on their intake.
2. Create a Workout Routine
Studies have revealed that just doing 15-30 minutes of moderate exercise a day can significantly lower symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. This is because exercise helps break down stress hormones like cortisol while also releasing feel-good endorphins. Daily workouts also help with mood regulation, improvement of overall health, and protection from obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Exercises that can help get your heart pumping and sweating are:
20-30 minutes of brisk walking
Running for 10-15 minutes
Cleaning the house
Washing your car
Taking a bike ride
Playing outside with children
Taking your dog for a walk
The above can serve as an effective cure for depression.
3. Take in some sun
Sunlight is an important self-care approach that helps in fighting depression. When depression is setting in, there may be an overwhelming desire to sit on the couch all alone. Spending too much time inside has a huge negative impact on your mood. Spending time outdoor can help increase serotonin levels, and also helps aid vitamin D production, help improve sleep quality, lower blood pressure, and build stronger bones.
4. Get a good night's sleep
Sleep can quickly affect any other part of your life, especially if you are not sleeping well. Depression and sleep go hand in hand, as a lack of sleep can cause or contribute to depressive symptoms, and depression can cause sleep problems that ultimately affect your ability to function daily.
To have a healthy sleep cycle make sure you go to sleep and wake up regularly, don't nap, and get bright light shortly after you wake up to signal your brain that it is time to start the day. If you limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption and get some exercise during the day, you can also fall asleep faster each night.
5. Socialize with friends and family
Even if you have mild depression you may withdraw from others, avoid social situations, or do not want to burden people with your feelings. One of the difficult but most relatively helpful approaches towards getting over depression is to find a formidable enclave of support and spend time with loved ones.
Try mapping out time to visit family members and friends, or go on a lunch date with a coworker. Spending quality time with loved ones gives you a worthy shoulder to lean on when you are battling depression. You may also find that some of these people have suffered from depression themselves and can chat with you about the subject and share ideas about what has helped them in the past, or just be willing to listen.
6. Plan fun activities
Before depression set in, you likely had different activities, interests, and hobbies that occupied your free time. While you may have lost interest in these things lately, it doesn't mean your passion is gone completely. Even if you do not feel like engaging in them, or if you feel too tired out to get involved in anything, try to spend a little time doing the things that once gave you pleasure. This can be cooking a delicious meal, creating works of art, listening to music, writing, or even working on your car. At some point, you will start enjoying these activities again and feeling more like you every day.
7. Be kind to yourself
One definitive way to help yourself out of difficulties is by being kind to yourself. Remember, feelings of depression are not your intentional fault or making. Be your ally and show yourself a lot of compassion as you work through challenging situations and days where it looks like you are never going to feel better. Depression is a treatable disorder and with little effort, you can get over it in no time.
When can a depressed person seek professional help?
Depression, no matter how mild, should be taken seriously, so the sooner you treat symptoms, the less likely you are to develop a more severe type of depression. Seeking professional help is a sign of bravery and self-respect because it shows that you are committed to taking care of your mind and body. A therapist can offer more clinical advice and guide you through treatment with approaches that are better tailored to your specific situation and needs. However, if you have thoughts of suicide, tell someone you trust and seek help immediately.
In life's journey, every human experiences some challenges at one point or another. At each of these periods, there is always a way out. Depression is a treatable mental health challenge. Whether you or a loved one are feeling depressed, each person's experience with mental illness is different, but help is available. Visit our "Helping Hands" page to learn more about the treatments we offer and to read our list of additional health and wellness courses to support your overall mental health.