How Depression Affects The Brain
No one knows for sure what causes depression, but researchers have determined that it is definitely a disorder that has biological underpinnings and that the chemistry of the brain plays a big role. Studies have uncovered how differences in the brains structure and chemicals may contribute to depression, but also ways that having depression changes your brain:
What Does Depression Feel Like Trust Me You Really Dont Want To Know
Darker than grief, an implosion of the self, a sheet of ice: no matter how you describe it, this is a terrifying state to be trapped in
This is Depression Awareness Week, so it must be hoped that during this seven-day period more people will become more aware of a condition that a minority experience, and which most others grasp only remotely confusing it with more familiar feelings, such as unhappiness or misery.
This perception is to some extent shared by the medical community, which cant quite make its mind up whether depression is a physical illness, rooted in neurochemistry, or a negative habit of thought that can be addressed by talking or behavioural therapies.
Im not concerned about which of these two models is the more accurate. Im still not sure myself. My primary task here is to try to explain something that remains so little understood as an experience despite the endless books and articles on the subject. Because if the outsider cannot really conceptualise serious depression, the 97.5% who do not suffer from it will be unable to really sympathise, address it or take it seriously.
There is a heavy, leaden feeling in your chest, rather as when someone you love dearly has died but no one has except, perhaps, you. You feel acutely alone. It is commonly described as being like viewing the world through a sheet of plate glass it would be more accurate to say a sheet of thick, semi-opaque ice.
Can Depression Be A Symptom Of Other Mental Health Problems
Depression can be a part of several mental health problems, such as:
If feelings of low mood or suicidal thoughts are the reason you first speak to your doctor about your mental health, your GP might offer you treatment for depression without realising that you are also experiencing other symptoms.
If you think you’re experiencing other symptoms, you can talk to your doctor about this to make sure you’re getting the right treatment to help you. See our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for information on how to make sure your voice is heard, and what you can do if you’re not happy with your doctor.
Read Also: What’s The Phobia Of Long Words
What You Can Do To Feel Better
When youre depressed, it can feel like theres no light at the end of the tunnel. But there are many things you can do to lift and stabilize your mood. The key is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there, trying to do a little more each day. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself.
Reach out to other people. Isolation fuels depression, so reach out to friends and loved ones, even if you feel like being alone or dont want to be a burden to others. The simple act of talking to someone face-to-face about how you feel can be an enormous help. The person you talk to doesnt have to be able to fix you. They just need to be a good listenersomeone wholl listen attentively without being distracted or judging you.
Get moving. When youre depressed, just getting out of bed can seem daunting, let alone exercising. But regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in countering the symptoms of depression. Take a short walk or put some music on and dance around. Start with small activities and build up from there.
Eat a mood boosting diet. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, sugar and refined carbs. And increase mood-enhancing nutrients such as Omega-3 fatty acids.
The Importance Of Self
Depression may make you want to be alone and not do that much. But it is important to push yourself and be proactive to help yourself feel better:
- Go outside, get some fresh air and do some exercise this can help boost your endorphins, your happy brain chemicals
- Maintain structure set yourself a positive daily schedule, which may include time for exercise, cooking and activities you usually enjoy dont stay in bed all day
- Try to eat healthily throughout the day evidence suggests that eating foods rich in folic acid such as avocado and spinach, as well as foods rich in omega-3 like salmon and tuna can help ease symptoms
- Dont use alcohol excessively or drugs people try to mask or manage negative feelings with alcohol and drugs, but this is counterproductive and should be avoided
- Establish a good bedtime routine try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Also avoid napping and make your bedroom a tech-free space, so you are away from screens before you sleep
- Document your thoughts and feelings before you go to sleep at night, write down three positive things about yourself and reflect on them when you wake up the next day. Also, jot down where you want to be emotionally, mentally and physically, and note the small steps you can take to get there
You May Like: No Appetite Depression Anxiety
When Should You Seek Professional Medical Treatment For Postpartum Depression
As a new mother, please reach out for professional help if:
- The symptoms last for more than two weeks.
- You are feeling extremely scared, anxious, and panicked for most of the day.
- Youre unable to function normally or cope with everyday situations.
- You have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
Feeling depressed after your babys birth does not mean that you are a bad mother or your baby doesnt love you. Your baby has nothing but love for you, no matter what! Remember your friends and family are there for you. Do reach out to seek professional help both for your health and your babys health. Most importantly, you should realise that you are stronger than you know, and everything is going to be okay. Youve got this mamma!
Depression Treatment: Lifestyle Changes Talk Therapy Antidepressants
If you suspect that depression is interfering with your life, talking about what youre experiencing and discussing treatment options with a medical professional is essential. As actress Taraji P. Henson, who describes her depression as suffocating darkness, recently explained in an interview with Self magazine, When youre quiet, things arent fixed. It gets worse.
The good news is that theres abundant evidence that people with depression who seek treatment will find significant relief from lifestyle changes, talk therapy , medication, or a combination of all efforts, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
You May Like: Celine Dion Anorexic
Changes In Appetite And Weight
Weight and appetite can fluctuate for people with depression. This experience may be different for each person. Some people will have an increased appetite and gain weight, while others wont be hungry and will lose weight.
One indication of whether dietary changes are related to depression is if theyre intentional or not. If theyre not, it may mean that theyre caused by depression.
People who die by suicide usually show symptoms first. Often people will talk about it or make a first attempt before succeeding in ending their life. If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:
- Stay with the person until help arrives.
- Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
- Listen, but dont judge, argue, threaten, or yell.
If you think someone is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Helping Someone Who Is Depressed
If your loved one or friend is depressed, here are some things you can do:
- Help him find a GP or a mental health professional such as MensLine Australia counsellor so he can get support.
- Offer your support and understanding.
- Talk to him and listen to what he has to say.
- Invite him out. He may say no at first, and you dont want to push him, but let him know that you are there.
- Men with depression may be at risk for suicide. If he is in a crisis, get help quickly. Call Suicide Call Back Service on or call 000.
Also Check: Fear Of Bees And Wasps Phobia
Favorite Apps Products And Gadgets
If youre feeling sad, lonely, or stressed, the 7 Cups app could provide you with online therapy and emotional support. With more than 160,000 trained listeners and licensed therapists, youll be able to speak to someone 24/7 in a confidential setting.
This app offers activities and games to overcome negative thoughts. Youll receive a happiness score that you can improve each time you play. Its based on effective, evidence-based psychological strategies. The company says 86 percent of those who use the app report feeling better about their lives after just two months.
If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder , bright light therapy may help improve your symptoms. We like the Verilux HappyLight Lucent 10,000 Lux LED Bright White Light Therapy Lamp. Its compact and portable, so you can use it on the go. And it received an average of 4.5 stars on Amazon reviews. The cost is around $45.
Should I Worry That My Child Will Commit Suicide
National surveys from the government show the overall risk. In 2019, for example, nearly 9% of high school students attempted suicide at least once over the course of a year. Thinking about suicide also continued to rise from previous years . Although less common, young children do attempt suicide as well.
Watch your child closely for the warning signs of suicidal behavior, including:
- Focus on death and dying.
- Giving away possessions.
- Combination of the two.
Also Check: Phobia Meaning In English
How To Tell If You Have Depression
Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms.
They range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.
There can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains.
The symptoms of depression range from mild to severe. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living.
Most people experience feelings of stress, anxiety or low mood during difficult times. A low mood may improve after a short period of time, rather than being a sign of depression.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Depression In Men
Different men have different symptoms, but some common depression symptoms include:
- Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness
- Feeling anxious, restless, or on the edge
- Loss of interest in work, family, or once-pleasurable activities
- Problems with sexual desire and performance
- Feeling sad, “empty,” flat, or hopeless
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Feeling very tired, not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overeating or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
- Physical aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
- Inability to meet the responsibilities of work, caring for family, or other important activities
- Engaging in high-risk activities
- A need for alcohol or drugs
- Withdrawing from family and friends or becoming isolated
Not every man who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some men experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many.
Read Also: Does Celine Dion Have An Eating Disorder
Exercise Whenever You Can
Exercising during pregnancy and after childbirth is an effective way to reduce the symptoms of postpartum depression. Walking with your baby in a stroller is a good way to get in some steps and breathe in the fresh air. You can even join online groups/exercise classes for new moms which are perfect for socialising too. If you cant fit in an extensive exercise session in your day, fret not! Simply put on some music within the comfort of your home, and break into your signature dance moves. And if youve got two left feet, then even better! Your baby will be highly entertained with even your silliest dance moves!
Eye Problems Or Decreasing Vision
Do you find that the world looks blurry? While depression may cause the world to look grey and bleak, one 2010 research study in Germany suggests that this mental health concern may actually affect ones eyesight.
In that study of 80 people, depressed individuals had difficulty seeing differences in black and white. Known by researchers as contrast perception, this might explain why depression can make the world look hazy.
Recommended Reading: What Are Eating Disorders Caused By
When Did They Tell Me I Had Bipolar Disorder
After countless therapy and physiological sessions, medications, doctor visits and late nights scanning the internet on how to get a handle on a depression disorder it turns out I didnt have it at all. Bipolar. When my physiatrist told me I had a type of bipolar disorder, I actually laughed at his face. I thought he was joking.
Information For Family Carers And Friends
You can get support if you are a carer, friend or family member of someone living with depression.
Being a carer might mean you can claim certain benefits that might help you and the person you care for. For more information, please see the Mental Health and Money Advice services website:www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/en/welfare-benefits/what-benefits-are-available-for-mental-health-carers/
You could also get in touch with carer support groups or sibling support groups. You can search for local groups in your area online or ask your GP.
You can ask your local authority for a carers assessment if you need more practical support to help care for someone.
As a carer you should be involved in decisions about care planning. There are rules about information sharing and confidentiality which may make it difficult for you to get all the information you need in some circumstances.
You can find out more information about:
How can I support the person that I care for?
You might find it easier to support someone with depression if you understand their symptoms, treatment and self-management skills. You can use this to support them to get help and stay well.
Below are some initial suggestions for providing practical day to day support to someone with depression.
You can find out more information about:
Read Also: What Is The Meaning Of Phobia
Tom Describes His Changed Perception Of The World He Compares This To Living In A Video Game
A few people had noticed they were more susceptible to getting ill and said they always had a cold or an infection. For a couple, their weakened immune system was connected to an eating disorder and not eating well. One man experienced overheating and said its likely to be caused by both depression and the medication he was on.
You’re Glued To Facebook
Or gambling or shopping…basically doing anything in excess, especially online. Several studies confirm that people who go online compulsively and have more virtual social interactions than real ones may be depressed. They may feel deprived of real human companionship and/or may be using the online world to escape from their thoughts and feelings. While Internet addiction and depression are separate diagnoses, they often overlap. “The quest for a short-term boost is a common coping mechanism,” says Rego.
Recommended Reading: Fear Of Long Words Phobia Name
Is This Depression Or Anxiety
Everybody goes through times of fear, worry and sadness . But when those negative emotions are so intense that it feels youre no longer in control of them, we could call it distress.
Distress can include a huge range of negative feelings. Everyones experience is unique and personal to them.
If the main problem is feeling down and miserable, or that there is no interest or pleasure in things, we call it depression. If the main problem is having times of panic, or always being on edge and worrying, we call it anxiety. Its quite common to experience a bit of both.
Whether you call it distress, depression, or anxiety, it doesnt matter. What matters is that you understand whats happening, and know what you can do to feel better.
How common is it?*
Depression And Gender: Is It Different In Men And Women
When it comes to depression, there is a distinct gender gap. Depression is nearly twice as common in women as in men, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Hormonal and other biological factors play a role in this disparity. After all, only women can have premenstrual or postpartum depression. The same is true of antenatal depression depression during pregnancy which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates affect anywhere from 14 to 23 percent of pregnant women.
Don’t Miss: What Is A Depression On A Topographic Map
Is It Depression Or Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, involves serious shifts in moods, energy, thinking, and behavior. Because it looks so similar to depression when in the low phase, it is often overlooked and misdiagnosed.
This can be a serious problem as taking antidepressants for bipolar disorder can actually make the condition worse. If youve ever gone through phases where you experienced excessive feelings of euphoria, a decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, and impulsive behavior, consider getting evaluated for bipolar disorder.