Everyone goes through periods of feeling down, but it usually passes after a few days and you start to feel like your old self again. Sometimes though, this feeling will go on for weeks, months, or even years, indicating something more serious. Anyone who has suffered from depression knows that it is not something that you can just snap out of; you need help. Luckily, there are several ways of tackling depression and getting back on track. But, first, you need to spot the symptoms of depression.
How to tell if you are depressed
We are all different, so depression affects us in different ways; however, there are some common symptoms that may help you identify depression. The most common is a lasting feeling of unhappiness or hopelessness that often involves losing interest in many of the things you used to love. You may feel sad and tearful, for no apparent reason.
Some physical symptoms are also very common, such as feeling tired all the time, not being able to sleep, losing your appetite or your sex drive, as well as unexplained physical pain. These symptoms can also vary in intensity, from mild to severe. At the mildest, you consistently feel in a low mood, but if depression is severe, you may have suicidal thoughts.
You think you are depressed; what can you do?
There are several approaches to dealing with depression, but the best results come from a combination of several of these approaches. These include lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise, which has been shown to be effective against mild depression. A healthy diet and cutting down on addictions, such as alcohol or smoking,can also be helpful for fighting depression. Self-help groups can also be useful for getting the support you may need to fight your depression.
If you find that these strategies are not helping, and your situation is not improving, psychological therapy may be a helpful alternative. There are various types of therapy that can be used, including: cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, which aims to help you understand your behavior and your thoughts, and how they affect your life; and interpersonal therapy, which focuses on your relationships with others, any problems you may have with them, and how these may be triggering your depression. Counseling can also help you understand problems you are facing and evaluate ways to deal with them. For more severe depression, you may need medical help, such as antidepressants. What works best for severe depression is usually a combination of antidepressants and therapy.
In some cases, none of these treatments seem to work. This is condition known as treatment-resistant depression. In these cases, alternative treatments, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), can be very helpful. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is an FDA-approved treatment that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate the brain and normalize the activity of specific regions of the brain that, in major depressive disorder, show decreased level of activity.
This treatment has been shown to be effective in reducing the symptoms of depression. An additional benefit of TMS is that it is non-invasive and has no systemic side effects.
But, most importantly, start by taking care of yourself
An important step toward optimal mental health is self-care. This might include cooking a healthy meal, or going for a walk outdoors and breathing in some fresh air. It is not as easy as it might seem because of some deeply rooted mechanisms that have disconnected you from taking the time to help yourself. Additionally, it might be tempting to believe that you do not have time for self care , because of children, work, housekeeping, or other activities. However, it is crucial that you realize that you will not be able to help anyone if you are not in a mental state to feel alright being with yourself.
Sometimes, just talking with others who can understand what you are going through might enable you to take a much-needed step back. Additionally, social contacts release endorphins. Since depression often includes a desire to withdraw from social events, trying to be social might seem like difficult at first. However, it is very important to connect with others for your emotional well-being.
The main point is to understand your symptoms and the cause of your depression. Once you are able to pinpoint them you will be empowered to tackle those problems and find a solution for your depression. We all deserve to be happy, and a new year is a perfect opportunity for tackling depression and turning your life around.