We often misunderstand depression with someone who is sad. If a person is feeling but can still work or socialize without any hiccups, then they do not meet the criteria for being clinically depressed.
However, a person who has been missing classes at school because they are unable to get out of bed or has fallen behind in their work due to the inability to concentrate may be struggling with mental health issues.
Getting professional help immediately is advisable for such individuals.
What is depression?
We often describe depression with symptoms ranging from sadness to irritability.
However, depression is a mood disorder that causes a person to lose interest in doing anything and feel sad for no reason. Depression affects how you feel, think, and behave. It is also known as clinical depression or a major depressive disorder.
Furthermore, it can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
But a person’s symptoms need to reach a specific threshold in order to qualify him/her as clinically depressed. And so simply feeling down doesn’t necessarily mean that an individual is suffering from depression.
If you ask someone in the field of psychology, he/she will probably tell you that depression is a much more severe mental condition than the temporary feeling of sadness.
Symptoms of Depression
In order to meet the criteria for clinically significant depression, the distress that a person is going through must affect his/her daily functioning.
If a person experiences five or more of the following symptoms, only then are they suffering from a major depressive episode:
- Depressed or irritable mood
- Sleep problems (either too much or too little and even during the day)
- Sudden change in interests (unable to enjoy the things you used to) or low motivation
- Excessive guilt or unrealistically low self-image
- Significantly low energy and/or declining to self-care (not taking a shower anymore)
- Significantly worse concentration
- Changes in appetite (either eating too much or too little)
- Agitation or severe anxiety/panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts, plans and/or self-harm (intentionally hurting yourself)
Possible causes of depression
Depression is thought to have many potential causes. Researchers and various professionals generally believe that several different factors come together for the condition to develop depression.
Certain factors also play a role in causing symptoms that lead to depression such as:
- Person’s environment
- Biological and physical changes (hormonal shifts during puberty, pregnancy)
The cause of depression may not be obviously linked to a predisposition or event in a person’s life. Sometimes people can even fall into depression even when they have no reason to do so.
Studies and research have yet to simply how the brain, its chemistry, and other parts of the body play a role in causing depression
How can we cope up with our symptoms and overcome depression?
As with any mental health problems, there are ways to cope with your symptoms for depression and live well with it.
Whether your doctor has recommended treatment or not, there are ways that can help you self-overcome and manage your depressive symptoms.
Build a support system
Having people in your life who are positive, supportive, and accepting is essential for mental health as well as your well-being even if you don’t have depression.
When you’re having trouble coping with your day-to-day life due to symptoms of depression, having a solid support system in place becomes even more vital.
Look to friends, family, and your community for people you can trust and be yourself around. Doctors and mental health professionals are also part of your team, so it’s important you feel comfortable speaking openly with them about how you feel.
Set Your Goals
Giving yourself a sense of accomplishment is important and thus, you must find workable goals.
Most people set unreasonable goals and thus they feel guilty talking about them. A goal is workable if it’s:
- Something you can control (i.e., it doesn’t depend on others)
- Manageable (i.e., not overwhelming)
- Realistic for you (not for someone else)
- Measurable (i.e., you know whether or not it is done or getting done)
You also need to adopt the attitude of learning from your mistakes (What can I learn from this) rather than a judgmental one (I am horrible at this)
Additionally, be careful when comparing your progress with others. We all have shortcomings but despite knowing that we compare our greatest weaknesses with someone’s biggest strength. This is unfair (and usually not accurate anyhow).
Yes your body and your mind are linked
Physical exercise is one of the best things that you can do to improve physical and mental health. While there does need to be more research in regard to how helpful exercise is as an antidepressant, there is evidence that remaining active is a good way to decrease depressive symptoms.
Furthermore, the main cause of depression is overthinking. But this bad habit can be controlled by giving yourself physical tasks that require your full attention throughout the day.
Make your day as tight as you can. Don’t let your mind do all the work, give your body a chance as well!
Diet and Nutrition
There is a direct link between depression and a lack of a healthy diet. Studies have found that people who eat unhealthy food often are more likely prone to get depressed.
For instance, when are all guilty of eating chips or ice cream when we are sad
Similarly, there is research regarding the communication pathways in the brain. There’s evidence of an association between nutritional intake, the central nervous system, and how they influence an individual’s psychological health status.
Keeping a nutrient-rich diet helps you stay physically healthy which in return can bring positive effects to your mental health.
Humans are social animals. Take away the social and you won’t be happy to see what’s left
Staying socially engaged is another natural way to improve your situation.
Depression causes individuals to withdraw from friends and family. However, we are social animals and we are not ourselves if we take the social away from us.
Maintaining relationships and expanding them can significantly improve your overall mood. One amazing way to stay socially active is through volunteering.
So grab your phone and dial-up that old friend’s number. Meet new people in cafes or events. Maybe even get a new match on Tinder 😉
Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Sleep and mood are intimately related. According to a 2014 study, 80% of people with major depressive disorder experienced sleep disturbances.
But, you might feel like you just can’t fall asleep. Or perhaps you feel exhausted and thus, struggle to get out of bed.
Good sleep hygiene is one way to improve both the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Here’s a simple yet effective trick. Turn off your mobile phone an hour before going to bed. If you read before sleep, use a dim light. You can even relax with activities such as meditation.
Moreover, only use your bed for sleep. If you use your bed to do work, rather than a place of relaxation, your bed can get associated with stress.
Create a Wellness Toolbox
Simply put, a wellness toolbox is a set of tools that come in handy when you feel down. They can be used to help soothe yourself.
It is important to create your own custom toolbox as what might help others, might not help you at all.
First, think of things you like to do when you’re happy.
Then, try doing one of those activities when you are feeling down.
Similarly, create a list of the activities you might try when you’re feeling bad. Then, choose one of those activities when you are experiencing a rough patch of time.
These activities can really be anything:
- Cuddling your pet
- Listening to your favorite music
- taking a warm bath
- Reading a good book
Despite whether you show symptoms of depression or not, these are a few of the things you can do whenever you feel down.
We all can get used to more happy moments than sad ones 🙂