Major Depression A Chronic Illness
Major depression is a serious mental illness. It is classified as a mood disorder, which means that it is characterized by negative patterns in thoughts and emotions that dont line up with a persons actual circumstances. It is also a chronic mental illness. This means it is not curable and that it can come and go, sometimes for a persons entire life. Someone diagnosed with depression may feel fine for a long period of time and then have symptoms. The period during which someone experiences the symptoms is called a depressive episode.
Most people with major depression live with it as a chronic illness. Episodes come and go, although they may be made less severe and less frequent with good treatment. In some cases, though, a person may experience a singular episode of depression, just once in a lifetime. Often these episodes of depression are triggered by a situational event: a death in the family, the loss of a job or relationship, or some kind of trauma, like a physical assault. This single depressive episode may be just as serious as those experienced by someone with recurrent major depression, with all the same symptoms and persistence.
I Put On Real Clothes
One of the first things I do after I get up is go to my closet and pick an outfit for the day. Even on days when I dont leave my house. Actually, especially when I dont leave my house. Putting on clothes Id wear out in the real world helps my productivity. Im sure weve all heard the saying, Dress for the job you want. Well, I like to dress for the day I want to have.
If I put effort into choosing an outfit that fits my mood or aesthetic for the day, it helps me put effort into other things. I get more writing done, reply to more emails, and eat real meals because I present myself to myself as someone who is at work and is capable of working.
When I stay in my PJs, its harder for me to get anything done because Im still in the mindset of someone who is perpetually asleep. Personally, PJs means staying in bed, watching TV, taking 8 hour naps, and wallowing. And there are days when I need to do all the above, when this kind of rest is self-care and not self-sabotaging. But, a few days in a row of sedentary behavior can lead to getting stuck in a rut and feeling a loss of control over your life.
Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy can be extremely useful in counteracting depression and is based on the principle that certain ways of thinking can trigger certain health problems, such as depression. The counselor helps you understand your current thought patterns and identify any harmful or false ideas and thoughts that you have that can trigger depression or make it worse.
The aim is to change your way of thinking to avoid these ideas, as well as help your thought patterns be more realistic and helpful.
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Treatment: Psychotherapy For Depression Symptoms
In essence, psychotherapy helps you get to the bottom of the depression symptoms, understand how depression affects your life, and cultivate healthy habits that will keep your depression at bay.
In general, experts believe therapy is an excellent treatment option for mild forms of depression, and most professionals specialize in depression or have experience working with people who are experiencing depression. When it comes to severe clinical depression, healthcare professionals recommend a psychiatric consultation followed by antidepressant medication to tackle the depression. This balance of treatment medications and therapy can help with the pain of depression while understanding the thoughts and feelings.
Aside from individual therapy, patients with depression can benefit greatly from family and couples therapy. Theres also group therapy for depression which brings together people who suffer from the same condition, creating a community that tests and provides mutual support for depression.
Depressive Episodes With Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a different type of mood disorder that is characterized by a cycle of depressive episodes and manic episodes. Manic episodes are essentially the opposite of depression, during which a person feels euphoric, energized, and sleeps little and acts recklessly. The depressive episodes that precede or follow manic episodes can feel a lot like an episode of major depression.
Certain symptoms are more common in episodes of bipolar depression than major depression. Someone going through bipolar depression is more likely to feel irritable and guilty, to be restless and agitated, and to have unpredictable mood swings. Bipolar depression is also more likely to cause psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. Another important difference is that antidepressants may not help treat someone with bipolar disorder. In fact, these drugs may make periods of mania more likely. Instead, bipolar disorder is more often treated with mood stabilizing drugs.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
You may like to unwind after a long day with a beer or glass of wine, but now isnt the time. Depression and alcohol dont mix.
As a depressant, alcohol will worsen your mood and wreak havoc on your sleep. And when done to excess, drinking creates all kinds of problems on its own.
Youll feel better if you resist the urge to self-medicate with alcohol or other substances.
Connect With Friends And Family
This can be one of the hardest things to do when feeling depressed, but it is one of the most rewarding activities. Isolating oneself from others may seem like a good idea, but put a limit on it and then get out there again.
Confiding in friends and family members can have a huge positive effect on your mood.
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What Is The Treatment For A Depressive Episode
How do you get out of a depressive episode? Treatment is always customized based on what your mental health needs are at that time.
If youre facing an emergency situation such as having thoughts of hurting yourself, call 911 right away. Do not wait for anyone else to be available.
Your doctor will be able to help you as an initial step. If youve never been diagnosed with depression before, this generally will include an exam, lab tests, and a psychiatric evaluation. During this exam, your doctors and therapists determine if you have the symptoms for the classification of depression or a major depressive episode. They also determine what type of depression you have.
Treatment for an episode depends on whats occurring. You may need to begin taking antidepressant medications. These medications can help to balance hormones and chemicals in the brain to ensure you have fewer episodes. Getting the right treatment can take some time.
Most people also benefit from psychotherapy. This includes talking to a therapist about whats happening and developing strategies for dealing with triggers in your life. A key goal is to identify the negative beliefs you have and working through your feelings. Youll also learn how to set realistic goals, develop a higher level of tolerance for distress and work to improve relationships.
Recognize The Importance Of Self
Self-care is essential for good physical and mental health. Self-care activities are any actions that help people look after their wellbeing.
Self-care means taking time to relax, recharge, and connect with the self and others. It also means saying no to others when overwhelmed and taking space to calm and soothe oneself.
Basic self-care activities include eating a healthful diet, engaging in creative activities, and taking a soothing bath. But any action that enhances mental, emotional, and physical health can be considered a self-care activity.
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Make An Appointment With A Professional Stat
Got a therapist, but don’t maintain regular appointments? Line one up. If you’re regularly scheduled, but feel like you can’t hold out until your usual Thursday time slot, contact your therapist or other mental health professional to let them know that you believe you’re at the edge of a dark time. They’ll appreciate the heads-up, and may either be able to fit you in earlier or give you tips on coping.
Thoughts Of Death And Suicide
A person going through a major depressive episode may have repeated thoughts about death or suicide , or may have made a suicide attempt. The frequency and intensity of thoughts about suicide can range from believing that friends and family would be better off if one were dead, to frequent thoughts about committing suicide , to detailed plans about how the suicide would be carried out. Those who are more severely suicidal may have made specific plans and decided upon a day and location for the suicide attempt.
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More Self Care Tips For Dealing With Depression
These are a few major steps in finalizing your recover from a depressive episode, but theres more that you can do on your own. You can practice self-care by being proactive when it comes to maintaining your own positive outlook on life.
Its perfectly fine to squeeze a pillow, cry it out, or take a long drive to get your thoughts together. You can make frequent trips to local parks to ground yourself and reconnect with nature by taking long walks outdoors. Practice breathwork, mindfulness, and always challenge your negative thoughts when they arise.
Listen To Upbeat Music
I have always thought of music as food for the soul. An upbeat tune can change an atmosphere instantly and create a more positive vibe. Listening to upbeat, happy music alters brain chemistry and can improve your mood.
One study found that findings indicate that music listening impact the psychobiological stress system, which means music has the ability to lower stress and regulate mood. Both of these can help relieve some symptoms of depression.
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Be Familiar With How Depression Affects You
The first step in coping with depressive episodes is knowing how you experience depression. Not everyone goes through an episode in the same way. For instance, some people lose weight when theyre depressed while others gain weight.
Additionally, there can be a variety of reasons why you slip into a depressive episode. Maybe its when you feel stressed over how you perform at work. Or when a specific situation makes you worry that others might not accept you.
Knowing why you experience depression and how it affects you can be very helpful when you do have a depressive episode. After all, knowledge is power, and it will help make the situation feel less scary and intimidating. Plus, you will have a better idea of what you need to do to cope.
More On How To Overcome Depression
If you suffer from depression or suddenly experience bouts of sadness that seem to come out of nowhere, you probably wonder why this is happening. The truth is that there are several possibilities, and you arent alone. According to the World Health Organization, in January of 2020, more than 264 million people were diagnosed with depression and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. In this article, I will answer the question: why am I depressed if my life is fine? I will discuss what depression is and what the possible causes of depression are. Additionally, I will offer some solutions to consider as you navigate the depression you are experiencing.
The question of why you are depressed if your life is fine is one that I can personally identify with, as I can remember a time when I went through an intense depression even though, in many ways, my life couldnt have been much better. I was financially secure, had a good family, lived in a beautiful place, had a pretty adventurous and exciting life, but none of that could have prevented a serious and prolonged battle with depression.
Given that you are here reading this article now, you will hopefully be able to identify the problem early and get the support you need to fend off any significant depressive episodes, as this can make a huge difference in your battle with depression.
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What You Eat And Drink Can Also Affect How You Feel
Theres no magic diet that will treat depression. But what you put into your body can have a real and significant impact on the way you feel.
Eating a diet rich in lean meats, vegetables, and grains may be a great place to start. Try to limit stimulants like caffeine, coffee, and soda, and depressants like alcohol.
Some people also and have more energy when they avoid sugar, preservatives, and processed foods.
If you have the means, consider meeting with a doctor or registered dietitian for guidance.
Whats The Difference Between Sadness And Depression
Whether youve lost a loved one, moved to a new place, or missed out on a job opportunity, there are plenty of stressful and upsetting events that can get you down. However, the difference between sadness and depression is that sadness usually passes with a little time, while depression is a mood disorder that can appear without any specific cause and last for two weeks or more.
Depression impacts almost every part of your life, interfering with how you think, feel, and go about your daily activities like sleeping, working, and socializing. Some common symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling empty
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping more than normal
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
- Irritability or restlessness
- Aches and pains without clear physical causes
- Thoughts of death or suicide
To be diagnosed with depression, these symptoms must be present nearly all day, every day for at least two weeks.
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What Causes These Episodes
Depressive episodes dont always need a trigger. Overwhelming feelings of sadness can spring up without any troublesome event or warning.
Yet, certain circumstances such as stress at work or home, financial problems, loneliness, or death of a loved one are known to set off a depressive episode.
The outbreak of such an episode could also be because of a chronic illness. Factors such as hormones, genetics, or brain chemistry might very well be responsible too.
According to research, there is no single reason behind these episodes or depression in general. The aspects of our life that we can control physical health and attitude can help manage these symptoms in the long run.
Depression And Suicide Risk
Depression usually does not lead to suicide ideation. But, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, studies have shown that about two percent of people who have been treated for depression in an outpatient setting will die by suicide. If the treatment is inpatient, the number doubles to four percent. Men are more likely to die by suicide after depression than women. Find hotlines and organizations for support in our emergency mental health resources directory.
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Do The Opposite Of What The Depression Voice Suggests
The negative, irrational voice in your head may talk you out of self-help. However, if you can learn to recognize it, you can learn to replace it. Use logic as a weapon. Address each thought individually as it occurs.
If you believe an event wont be fun or worth your time, say to yourself, You might be right, but itll be better than just sitting here another night. You may soon see the negative isnt always realistic.
A lengthy to-do list may be so weighty that youd rather do nothing. Instead of compiling a long list of tasks, consider setting one or two smaller goals.
- Dont clean the house take the trash out.
- Dont do all the laundry thats piled up just sort the piles by color.
- Dont clear out your entire email inbox just address any time-sensitive messages.
When youve done a small thing, set your eyes on another small thing, and then another. This way, you have a list of tangible achievements and not an untouched to-do list.
All goals are worthy of recognition, and all successes are worthy of celebration. When you achieve a goal, do your best to recognize it.
You may not feel like celebrating with a cake and confetti, but recognizing your own successes can be a very powerful weapon against depressions negative weight.
The memory of a job well-done may be especially powerful against negative talk and overgeneralization.
Focus on times when you feel the most disorganized or scattered.
What Foods Help Ease Depression
While no specific diet has been proven to relieve depression, a healthy diet can help you feel your best physically and mentally. Certain foods may be linked to brain health and support for memory, alertness, and mood. Examples include foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids , antioxidants , and nutrients like choline . Always talk with your doctor before making any major diet changes.
Breathe Deeply And Relax The Muscles
Deep breathing techniques are an effective way to calm anxiety and soothe the bodyâs stress response. Slowly inhaling and exhaling has physical and psychological benefits, especially when done on a daily basis.
Anyone can practice deep breathing, whether in the car, at work, or in the grocery store. Plenty of smartphone apps offer guided deep breathing activities, and many are free to download.
Progressive muscle relaxation is another helpful tool for those experiencing depression and anxiety. It involves tensing and relaxing the muscles in the body to reduce stress. Again, many smartphone apps offer guided progressive muscle relaxation exercises.
We have reviewed some meditation apps that can help with depression and anxiety.