Depression is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you were trying to be strong for too long.

What is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent low mood, a feeling of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. Depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how one feels, the way one thinks and how one acts.

 

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of depression can include:

  • Feeling sad, lost, empty, hopeless, or just generally unhappy for a long period of time

  • Frequent crying

  • Reduced interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, like socializing, sex, etc

  • Unintentional weight loss or low appetite, Change is an eating pattern.

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping)

  • Slow psycho-motor skills like slowed movement and speech.

  • Constant tiredness and fatigue.

  • Feelings or loss of worthlessness or guilt

  • Impaired ability to think, concentrate, or make decisions

  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide, or attempt to suicide

  • Psychosomatic complaints including headaches, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal distress

  • Feeling guilty about things that aren't your fault or are out of your control.

Treatment

Depression is a treatable mental illness. A professional diagnosis is needed for successfully overcoming depression., though success rates and length of treatment will vary depending on the severity of the depression. Although treatment is individualized, several standard treatments are recommended.

Talk therapy: the act of discussing symptoms, feelings and related experiences with a mental health professional to treat depression or other mental health issues. Talk therapy covers many different therapy techniques.

  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) - this type of therapy is designed to help you learn how to alter negative thinking and to begin viewing your life and environment in a more positive light. It can help you identify what's contributing to your depression and what triggers make it worse.

  • Interpersonal Therapy- therapy designed to help you work through relationships or events that altered a relationship that may contribute to depression, including loss of a loved one, the end of a romantic relationship, or problems with your parental relationships.

  • Problem-Solving Therapy - this type of depression treatment can help you become better able to cope with difficult, stressful or tragic life events. This technique typically involves creating a step-by-step process for realistically coping with a given situation. This is especially useful for older adults with depression.

  • Brain stimulation therapies - including electroconvulsive therapy - are also used in depression. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation sends magnetic pulses to the brain and may be effective in major depressive disorder.

  • Medication   Each class of antidepressants acts on a different neurotransmitter. The drugs should be continued as prescribed by the doctor, even after symptoms have improved, to prevent relapse.

  • Hospitalization if necessary, depending upon the severity.

  • Residential treatment if necessary, depending upon the severity.

Alternative Self -Help Treatments

  • Reach out and stay connected-

Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.

You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook.

  • Do things that make you feel good- " me time"

In order to overcome depression, you have to do things that relax and energize you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day.

  • Develop a “wellness toolbox” to deal with depression

A wellness toolbox is a set of tools that you can use to help soothe yourself when you are feeling down.

The tools you find most helpful might not work for someone else so it's important to carefully consider what things can help you feel your best.

Come up with a list of things that you can do for a quick mood boost. The more “tools” for coping with depression, the better. Try and implement a few of these ideas each day, even if you’re feeling good.

  1. Spend some time in nature

  2. List what you like about yourself

  3. Read a good book

  4. Watch a funny movie or TV show

  5. Take a long, hot bath

  6. Take care of a few small tasks

  7. Play with a pet

  8. Talk to friends or family face-to-face

  9. Listen to music

  10. Do something spontaneous

  • Eat a healthy, depression-fighting diet-

One of the most overlooked aspects of mental health is nutrition. Food plays a significant role in our physical health, as well as our mental and emotional health. When you are struggling with depression, it can feel a bit overwhelming to think about eating the right foods. However, some of these small changes in your diet may help to decrease your symptoms and have a positive effect on your daily life.A dietary pattern characterized by a high intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grain, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy and antioxidants and low intakes of animal foods was apparently associated with a decreased risk of depression. A dietary pattern characterized by high consumption of red and/or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes and high-fat gravy, and low intakes of fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of depression.

  • Get a daily dose of sunlight

Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood. Whenever possible, get outside during daylight hours and expose yourself to the sun for at least 15 minutes a day. Remove sunglasses (but never stare directly at the sun) and use sunscreen as needed.

  • Penning down negative self-talk

When we write down our self-criticisms then it’s clearly in front of us in black and white and we are able to take a step back, ponder over the direction that our self-talk takes which helps us to rationalize our thoughts. If we do not express our anxiety-producing thoughts then they tend to fester and build up which increases our level of stress.

  • Identify nature of self talk

 We must be careful of how we are talking to ourselves because we are listening and the way we talk to ourselves become our inner voice hence it is of utmost importance to evaluate whether we are engaging in self-limiting thoughts when we talk to ourselves or is our self talk serving as a motivation booster. If we beat ourselves up over our mistakes and perpetually indulge in self defeating thoughts then it should be considered a red flag to slow down and assess our pattern of thinking.

 

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