Depression is a common illness that should not be neglected. It impairs the life of patients and their personal improvement.
Who has never had to deal with depression at some point? Even though it is considered a modern affliction, it’s not new. Throughout history, it has received many names: melancholy, the blues, and sorrow.
For long, it was associated with laziness, overreacting, and pessimism. Individuals experiencing depression were pushed to “snap out it” as if it was this simple. While the intention was the best, the results were quite the opposite. The peer pressure of the environment just forced patients to feel worse.
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Depression can be triggered by an event. The loss of someone close is a reason for deep sadness. Other triggers are:
- financial difficulties
- unexpected (and unwanted) life changes
Depression always comes without prior notice and strikes hard.
A lot has been done in the field of researching the mechanisms behind depression as well as its treatments. It is still hard to pinpoint isolated causes, though. In most cases, it can be a series of events. But depression is also linked to lifestyle and dietary habits. Individuals deal with it in different ways, but there are general approaches that prove to be helpful in most cases.
What is depression?
One of the definitions of depression is: “a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way.”
A person does not choose to feel depressed. It happens. And before they realize it, depression takes over their life and even their ability to react to the problem itself in the most severe cases.
Depression doesn’t discriminate. Even though it is frequently associated with issues in adulthood, children, teenagers and elderly people may also fall victims of this so-called “disease of the century”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) puts depression at the top of the list of the most common illness worldwide and the leading cause of disability. The Organization estimates that 350 million people around the world are affected by depression.
Some symptoms of depression
The same way that its causes vary from one patient to another, the symptoms of depression are not always the same. The circumstances that lead to the mood change will play a role in the individual’s reaction(s). As a rule of thumb, though, one should be aware of:
- feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- loss of interest in daily activities
- loss of energy
- sleep changes
- unexplained aches and pains
These symptoms, among others, are not necessarily related to depression. However, they should raise a red flag.
How to deal with depression
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to depression. The cure is related to its causes which again, varies widely from one patient to another, but some steps may ease the suffering.
As not all depression is the same, it’s important to collect as much information as possible about it. By understanding the condition and learning about its potential triggers, treatment can be facilitated.
While some cases can be controlled by lifestyle changes, medical treatment might be necessary.
The first, most important, and sometimes hardest step towards overcoming depression is getting help.
It is important to break the communication barrier and overcome taboos. Depression is a condition like many others and helping patients has to be a priority. It should never be seen as a sign of weakness.
Because depression is a unique condition, it may not always be easy to find the most appropriate treatment at first. While patient, family members, and friends hope for a fast solution, recovery might take some time.
Individuals may feel overwhelmed and frustrated, with ups and downs. While it is not the ideal scenario everyone hopes for, it is still normal.
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The role of lifestyle
While medication and therapy are well-known ways to treat depression, some changes in lifestyle can also contribute to a fast and long-lasting recovery.
Exercising is an excellent opportunity to interacting with others and break the isolation status of depression. Besides, it boosts serotonin, endorphins, and other feel-good brain chemicals. It also triggers the growth of new brain cells and connections, just like antidepressants do. A half-hour daily activity can already make a big difference. When possible, aim for 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise on most days.
Balanced meals are key to maintaining energy levels and avoiding mood swings. An imbalance in the ratio of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids may be responsible for the increase of depression symptoms. The lack of the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan is also associated with low mood.
According to a study, mood improvement was associated with improved vitamin B2 and B6 status.
While the relationship between sleep quality and depression is complex, it should not be neglected.
Depression may cause sleep problems and sleep problems may cause depressive disorders. Sleep deprivation worsens irritability, moodiness, sadness, and fatigue.
At the first signs of a change in sleep pattern, either insomnia or oversleeping, make sure to investigate its cause.
The increase of the levels of cortisol caused by stress is responsible for the reduction of serotonin and dopamine. This reduction has been linked to depression.
In addition to traditional treatment, alternative and complementary techniques prove themselves effective in the control and recovery from depressive states. Reiki, yoga, and meditation can be extremely helpful in the process.
Putting it all together
Depression is a serious condition that impairs personal improvement. Sometimes, because of pressure from the environment, its signs are covered up. Pretending it is not there doesn’t make depression go away. On the contrary, the sooner it’s treated, the better.
If you notice the first signs of depression on yourself or someone close to you, ask for help. Some cases can be dealt with family support and lifestyle changes. Others, however, more serious, may require psychological treatment (with or without medication).
In extreme cases, depression may lead to suicidal behavior. For such cases, adequate support is mandatory.
Remember that the journey to depression relief doesn’t have to be a lonely one. While some may feel better with prayer and meditation, others may need professional help. Neither patient or those close to them should feel guilty or responsible for the condition. There is no one to blame. The only thing that is important is building a support system that eases the healing process.
What do you do when you feel depression is taking over?
For more tips of Personal Improvement read also:
- How To Deal With the Silent Threat of Anxiety
- The Surprising Value of Listening To Your Body For Health
- How To Find Time To Work Out Consistently
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