Depression

What is depression?

Nearly all day, every day

  • Depressed mood
  • Lack of interest/pleasure
  • Weight gain/loss without dieting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia/hypersomnia
  • Very restless/drop in physical activity
  • Fatigue/loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness/inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulty thinking/concentrating/making decisions
  • Recurrent thoughts of death/suicidal thoughts/plans/attempts

How common is depression?

  • Between 10 and 15% of people will experience at least one episode of major depression in their lifetimes.
  • Stigma and shame associated with depression is changing and more and more people talk about it.
  • Important things to keep in mind
  • People who experience these symptoms do get well
  • There are many things you can do to help yourself
  • It is not your fault you have these symptoms
  • People live with these symptoms, move on in their lives and do the things they want to do.
  • Medication may be helpful now. Nobody knows the future.
  • You should not have to put up with side effects from medication.

Things to do if you are depressed

  • Keep remembering that there is hope
  • Take charge and take responsibility
  • Educate yourself about depression
  • Ensure you get what you want, need and deserve

Possible causes of depression and things you can do to alleviate it

Genetic, biological, environmental

  • Exercise: develop a routine/habit
  • Diet: three balanced meals a day, plenty of water, high in complex carbs, cut sugar, processed carbs, caffeine, alcohol, be aware of possible allergies
  • Make sure you get enough time outside in natural sunlight (glasses off if you wear them)
  • Sleep routine: make sure the latest time you go to bed is 10pm
  • Creative activities: do art/pottery
  • Medication

Focus on negative emotions, negative thoughts

  • Notice sensations in your body without any judgement of them
  • Notice when you start to judge sensations as good or bad
  • Notice your mood and emotions and chart these*
  • Notice your negative thoughts and change them*
  • Write in a journal
  • Relax in natural settings
  • Spend time quietly in prayer, contemplation or meditation

Lack of meaningful spaces to share your experiences – feeling your family and friends don’t understand you:

  • Find a counselor/support group that does understand you to share with

Not feeling you have valued functions in family system/school system/community system – playing negative functions in the family/school/community (e.g. the difficult child/the failure/the disorganized one etc.)

  • Find opportunies (perhaps through voluntary work, the church, the school) to function in valued roles

Noticing early warning signals

  • Charting your emotions, writing journals etc. should help you to start noticing warning signals
  • Take action early
  • Exercise, diet, time outdoors, relaxation
  • Take a positive attitude: Change negative thoughts, wait it out, stay active, recall good times, focus on living one day at a time, make and stick to simple plans and schedules, seek help, focus on spirituality
  • Seek support, build a strong support network of family, friends, support groups, health care professionals that you can talk to
  • Do something to feel valued

* Charting emotions and moods: make a schedule of the different times during the day, note what has happened, what you are doing and the accompanying emotions – this will help you to find triggers

Suicidal thoughts

  • Hopelessness and depression: depression ends, life is worth living
  • Desperation: no matter what the problems or how hard they seem to deal with, there is always a way out that is better than death
  • Loneliness: your friends and family do love you, even if it doesn’t feel like it, join a support group
  • Bad memories: you may need help dealing with bad memories
  • Psychosis: seek help if you hear voices telling you to do something
  • Low self-esteem: if you feel a failure, are obsessed with memories of past failures, feelings of inadequacy, take an honest look at yourself, list your accomplishments, people you have ever helped/befriended/been kind to. Make it a habit of noticing the good things about yourself!
  • Guilt: guilt about things you have done may be hard to deal with but you can pick up the pieces
  • Seasonal triggers: if family times like Christmas trigger a bad response, make sure you spend time with people you enjoy being with
  • Fatigue: eat foods high in complex carbohydrates, take a break, get exercise

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