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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