What Is Depression, and What Can You Do About It?

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Depression is very common, having been named “the cold of mental disorders”, in an attempt to explain just how often it is seen. Despite this, it’s still misunderstood by the general population, and even by those who are depressed.

However, it’s very important that more people become aware of what depression really is, in order for them to be able to either help those around them, or even themselves, get the proper treatment when they need it.

 

What Depression is Not

First of all, one has to understand what depression is not. In the day-to-day life, people tend to go through periods of happiness, followed by periods of unhappiness. These ups and downs are normal, and they usually correspond to events that happen in one’s life.

While people often say that they are depressed when they’re experiencing those “downs”, this is the wrong label, as it is not depression they’re experiencing.

 

What is Depression?

Depression is characterized by feelings of despair, and an inability to find pleasure and interest in everyday activities. Indeed, this loss of interest can be so debilitating that it might leave a person completely unable to carry out regular activities.

Here is a list of symptoms that one might experience when undergoing a depressive episode:

  • Experiencing depressed mood almost the entire day.
  • A substantial decline in interest in nearly any activity.
  • Lack of movement, or too much movement.
  • A substantial decline in energy levels.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Weight loss or gain that is unintentional.
  • Decreased ability to concentrate.
  • Feeling worthless.
  • Experiencing guilt.
  • Thinking about death.
  • Thinking about suicide or attempting to commit it.

These symptoms have to last for over 2 weeks in order for it to be considered depression.

 

What Should You Do when Experiencing Depression?

The first step you should take is talk to a professional about it. If you don’t know where to start, even going to your family doctor is a good idea, as he or she will be able to point you in the right direction. In addition to this, there are a few things that you can do to help yourself.

  • Exercise
  • Eat healthy
  • Get the proper amount of sleep

You’ve probably heard about how good these things are for you that you might be tempted to ignore them, but you shouldn’t. Indeed, they can help you improve your mood, and though they might not be the quickest way to healing your mind, they are efficient.

Exercise

While exercising, most people enjoy an elevated mood, and though someone who’s depressed might not experience this, after a few weeks of exercising 3 to 4 times per week, there are high chances that you will notice an improvement in the way you feel.

Not only this, but exercise can also help you relieve stress, and improve your energy, which will leave you better able to deal with everyday activities.

Eat Healthy

Eating healthy foods, such as vegetables and fruits is always a good idea, but this tends to be even more true for depressed people. By doing so, you will be feeding both your body and your brain with the nutrients it needs to work properly. As such, your brain will be on its way to recovery.

Get the Proper Amount of Sleep

Getting enough sleep is probably easier said than done. If you have insomnia, then you simply can’t get to sleep. However, there are things that you can do make falling asleep easier.

For instance, you can start by having a bedtime routine that helps you relax, which might involve reading a book, drinking a hot beverage such as tea or milk, and having a warm bath.

Then, if you find yourself unable to get to sleep, you should make sure that you don’t stay in bed, as that will only make matters worse. Rather, get up, and continue reading the book, or do something else, until you feel like you are about to fall asleep again. If this doesn’t help at all, then talk to your doctor about getting medication for sleeping.

If, on the other hand, you sleep too much , then you should make sure that you have activities that you can do throughout the day in order to avoid sleeping.

 

Ask for Help

Talking to a professional might feel a bit overwhelming, and if that feels like it’s too much in the beginning, you should start by asking a loved one for help.

Some people feel ashamed about having depression, but it is nothing to be ashamed about. Not only is it very common, but it’s also not your fault that you have it.

If you open up to someone who cares about you, you don’t have to worry about them thinking less of you, because they will very likely understand and try their best to help you.

 

Experiencing depression is difficult, but luckily, the problem can be dealt with. While getting the help of a professional is the surest way to healing, there are a few things you can do on your own, such as getting the help of a friend, taking care of how much you sleep and of what you eat, and exercising.

 

Sources:

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-signs-and-symptoms.htm

http://depressionhurts.ca/en/manage/social-life.aspx

http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/depression/

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Some “What Ifs” Are Better than “Oh Wells”

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I’m sure you’ve heard people saying that it’s better to have done something and regretted it later than to not have done something and always wonder what would have happened if you would have had enough courage to do it. I agree with this, but I also believe that it’s not always true.

There are some things that are better left floating in the land of “what if” than being brought down into the world of reality. Why? Because some things might never turn into “oh well”. They might just turn into “why did I do that?”

Now, it’s hard to figure out which “what ifs” are better than others. Perhaps that’s why the idea of always doing something you want instead of wondering about it came to be. But what if there would be a better way than this? What if we could make sure that we go for the right “what if”, leaving the wrong one behind?

The world in which this always happens is a fictional world. We can’t always know. Sometimes we are going to mess up. Occasionally, we’re going to mess up a lot worse than other times. That’s something we need to learn to accept, because striving for perfection is a losing battle.

When trying to figure out if something is worth the risk, whatever that risk may be,  you have to consider how important that thing is for you. Can you learn to be without it? Be careful here. I wrote “learn” intentionally. It is normal to feel like you can’t be without something you’ve started to “crave”, but as time passes, the craving might go away, and you will learn to be without that thing.

However, if you feel like that thing has the potential to complete your life in a meaningful way, perhaps letting go is not the best thing in the world.

Keep in mind here that whatever the conclusion you arrive at, you might still have to learn to be without that thing, eventually. You can’t always get what you want, so be prepared for that possibility too.

Think of the situation where you might feel tempted to call your ex and try to get back together. Such a decision is always loaded emotionally, and I would personally call up a friend to get their opinion, because it will be less biased than yours, but you can also try to think of whether it’s really worth it. It’s very hard, but even in these situations, where the irrational part of your brain seems to be taking over, you might still be able to hear the voice of rationality, lost between your thoughts. Listen to it.

Even here, you might end up where you started all over again, if your ex won’t want to get back together. If you choose to give it a shot, be prepared for this option. But maybe leaving things at “what if” is the better choice.

/Larisa

The Terrifying Face of Change

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“We are creatures of habit.” The number of times I’ve heard this is ridiculously high, yet I never really gave it much thought. “Yes, I suppose we are.”, I’d say to myself, and go about my day, without really absorbing what the person meant by saying this. Hell, maybe they didn’t even know the extent to which they were right.

The idea of change is a beautiful one, isn’t it? There’s a certain comfort in thinking that your life won’t always be the same. Of course, we hope that someday it will be better. That we’ll get that dream job we’ve wanted since we were kids, that we’ll be able to afford the house, the car, the clothes, and the vacations we want. The reality, however, is that change isn’t always good. Sometimes, we go down a level instead of up. That can happen at work, but it can also happen in life. One day you’re happily riding the “Business Class” of life, and then the next, all of a sudden, you’re sent to “Economy”. No warning, no nothing.

This is why people don’t always welcome change; because they don’t know if it means that something good will happen, or something bad. Of course, some are better than others at dealing with the uncertainty of it all. Yet still, most of us are wired to prefer what is known, because simply knowing something makes it more comforting than not knowing. This is why people will stay in crappy conditions (and I’m sure you can think of someone who has stayed waaaay too long in a bad relationship). Chances are, they probably know that those conditions suck. But there’s a little voice inside of them whispering that maybe, just maybe, if they dare to change something, they might end up in a situation that’s even worse.

Via pixabay
Via pixabay

Many times, change can be seen as a good thing; a way for getting out of a life that’s not offering what you’re looking for. Even so, the more that change is approaching, the more terrifying it can be to look at it.

But there’s good news! Sometimes, change can make it seem as though you’ve gone to a worse place than you were before. Perhaps, temporarily, it may be true. However, if you know how to make use of it, even the scariest of changes can lead to better outcomes. Maybe you find yourself having to quit your job, leading to a period of unemployment. Let’s be honest here: for most people, going from job to no job is going from good to bad. Yet, this may give  you the chance to look for a better job than the one you had. It may push you to do something you never did before, because you were too comfortable.

Change happens outside of your comfort zone, but stepping into that land doesn’t feel all that great at first. There’s a reason it’s called the “comfort” zone. Nevertheless, once the change has occurred, you may just find that your zone of comfort is extended, and you can do so much more than before. This is why, no matter how terrifying change may seem, it certainly comes with benefits.

/Larisa