Living with depression can feel like you are carrying a boulder on your shoulders. You can’t get rid of it on your own. It won’t go away without help from others. It can crush you and drive you to the ground. Depression can make you feel like you are trapped under its weight with no way out. If you think you are grappling with this problem that is affecting your mental health, you need to share this load. The first step is to open up to your family.
Some feelings of sadness or changes in mood are normal parts of the human experience. However, there are times when your mood can begin to interfere with daily life. Depression is a mood disorder that includes feelings of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness that don’t go away on their own. It’s common for people who are depressed to have trouble participating in many key aspects of life — including work, school, friendships, family, sex, and social relationships.
Depression is a common condition, impacting over 250 million people of all ages, races, and genders all over the world. But due to social stigma and lack of access to care, experts estimate that less than a quarter of people with depression in low and middle-income regions get the treatment they need. Without treatment and support, depression carries a high risk of disability or death by suicide.
Depression can be difficult to understand and discuss, especially with friends and family. People with depression may feel lost, isolated, or worried about judgment from their peers. It’s important to remember that depression is a real illness with effective treatments and that recovery is possible. Learn more about the causes of depression and available treatment options.
Symptoms & Warning Signs
Depression symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. Episodes of depression may be mild, moderate, or severe. They can come and go, or last for months or years at a time. For most people, depression happens gradually — symptoms begin slowly and worsen over time.
Common emotional and behavioral symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or guilty
- Losing interest in or pleasure from activities
- Feeling agitated or irritable
- Feeling very tired or sleeping too much or too little
- Having trouble concentrating, thinking, speaking, or making decisions
- Thinking frequently about death or suicide
Depression can also cause more physical symptoms, including:
- Changes in appetite, weight loss, or weight gain
- Back pain, headaches, or body aches
Causes & Risk Factors
The exact cause of clinical depression is unknown, and people experience symptoms for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s related to a specific event. For example, you may feel sad and have trouble functioning for a short time when coping with a difficult or traumatic situation. Other people may experience depression for no identifiable reason over a longer period of time.
There are many factors that have been linked with increased risk of depression, including:
- The brain’s ability to regulate moods depends on chemicals called neurotransmitters. Decreases in certain neurotransmitter chemicals (serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine) likely play a role in depression for some people.
- People with a family history of depression are more likely to experience it themselves. Further research is needed to find out which genetic changes may be involved in depression.
- Changes in your body’s hormone levels can have an impact on your overall mood. These changes may be related to thyroid problems, or to life events that naturally impact hormone levels, like puberty, pregnancy, or menopause.
In addition, the following environmental factors and life events are also linked to a higher risk of depression:
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Death or loss of a loved one
- Loss of a job or financial stressors
- Substance use
- Chronic illness or disability
- Certain medications
Assessment & Diagnosis
Depression symptoms are easy to overlook. Family and friends can play an important role in noticing signs of depression, like changes in behavior. If you or someone you care about is feeling depressed, talk with a doctor. Talking about your symptoms is the first step in diagnosing the problem and finding support.
Depression can be diagnosed by any of the following professionals:
- Primary care providers
There are no laboratory tests or physical exams available to diagnose depression. But your doctor may order blood tests to check for other health conditions that can cause symptoms similar to depression-like thyroid problems, infections, or vitamin or hormone level changes. They may also provide screening for depression using a questionnaire tool that asks about your symptoms.
After this initial screening, your primary care doctor may refer you to a specialist, like a psychiatrist or a psychologist. To diagnose depression, these specialists may ask about your personal and family health history, recent mood and behaviors, relationships, professional satisfaction, exercise habits, and overall quality of life. They’ll look for any patterns that show that you may have a mood disorder.
Tips For Dealing With Your Depression
1. Talk to your psychiatrist.
This is the most important thing you can do when dealing with depression. Make an appointment with your psychiatrist and discuss your symptoms, how they’ve been impacting your life, and any treatment options you may be interested in trying. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – your psychiatrist in Bhopal will be happy to answer them.
2. Continue your normal routine as much as possible.
It’s natural for people who are depressed to isolate themselves from the world, but it’s important that you continue to do things that make you feel good – whether they be eating a particular food, watching a favorite movie, or shopping at your favorite store. Those small things can make a huge difference in improving your mood.
3. Work out!
It’s always good to exercise, but when you’re depressed it’s especially important – studies have shown people who suffer from depression are much less likely to exercise regularly, which leads to many other tissues throughout the body. Exercise releases endorphins, which lift your spirits and give you an immense sense of accomplishment once you finish.
4. Get into nature!
Take a walk outside or just sit on your back porch for a few minutes – being surrounded by plants and flowers has been proven to help decrease stress levels and improve spirits within minutes of exposure. Even if all the research is wrong about this and it’s just a placebo effect, it can still be really helpful.
5. Connect with friends and family.
Depression can make you feel like you’re a burden to others, but that isn’t true – your loved ones want to help you get through this tough time. Reach out to them, either in person or online, and talk about your feelings and what you’re experiencing. They want to support you, so let them!
6. Get organized!
This one definitely falls more into the “self-care” category, but when you’re depressed it can be incredibly helpful to take some time to organize your life. Tidying up your room, cleaning up your computer/phone, or even just organizing your bookshelf can make you feel better about yourself.
7. Create a list of things that have made you happy in the past and keep it close by.
When you’re feeling really low, having a list to refer to – even if it’s just 10 small things – can remind you that there are good things going on in your life too. Sometimes looking at this list will lead to new ideas for how to spend time doing those activities again!
8. Learn strategies for coping with depression.
There are lots of great resources online where people have compiled lists of ways they cope with their depression – from simple breathing exercises to fun projects like creating scrapbooks or putting together a puzzle. The more you know about what helps you, the easier it will be for you to take care of yourself!
9. Challenge your negative thoughts!
Depression can cause us to have an overwhelming amount of negative thoughts that often seem very true. But they’re not – remember that even if something bad has happened in the past, there are good things going on right now too. Remembering this is one of the most important parts of dealing with depression, so do whatever it takes to remind yourself!!
10. Get plenty of rest!
People who are depressed typically don’t sleep as well as they should because their mind is racing all night, causing them to stay awake and think negatively about their life. Make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night to help your depression, even if it means taking a nap during the day or watching some TV before bed.
11. Always remember you are not alone!
There are so many people in this world who have felt exactly how you feel right now – and yet they still managed to get through it and turn their lives into something amazing! You can do that too if you keep working hard every day!
So, those are tips for dealing with your depression! As you can see, there are a lot of different things that can help, and it’s important to find what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends or family, or reach out to a professional if things get really tough. Remember that you are not alone in this – we all go through tough times, and you will get through this one too. Just keep working hard every day and before you know it, you’ll be feeling better! Thanks for reading!