Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Depression symptoms includes
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty while thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.
Depression Is Different From Sadness or Grief
The death of a loved one, loss of a job or the ending of a relationship are difficult experiences for a person to endure.
It is normal for feelings of sadness or grief to develop in response to such situations. Those experiencing loss often might describe themselves as being “depressed”. But being sad is not the same as having depression.
The grieving process is natural and unique to each individual and shares some of the same features of depression. Both grief and depression may involve intense sadness and withdrawal from usual activities.
Difference between Depression and Grief :
|Depression||Grief or Sadness|
|It is simply a complex form grief.||It is a normal reaction to a loss.|
|People who are depressed cannot function or recover without some professional help.||People who are grieving normally can continue function such as holding a job and making arrangements.|
|Mood and/or Pleasure are decreased for two weeks or more.||Painful feelings come in waves, often intermixed with positive memories of the deceased.|
|Feeling of worthlessness and Self-loathing are common.||Self-esteem is usually maintained.|
For some people, the death of a loved one can bring on major depression. Losing a job or being a victim of a physical assault or a major disaster can lead to depression for some people.
When grief and depression co-exist, the depression is more severe and lasts longer than grief . Despite some overlap between grief and depression, they are different.
Why does it feel easier to stay depressed?
1. Yes it may be easier to stay depressed because depression have its advantages, like people always give you special attention that you think you wouldn’t have otherwise.
2. Sometime people thinks that they need to be in depression to be able to talk about their problems and feeling. And its not true of course.
3. Some people use their depression to get what they want. One of the most common example of this is “oh I’m depressed pity me and buy me this”.
4. Some people abuse of their depression in another way, they get mad at the person around them and then claim its because they’re depressed.
5. If you and others give yourself advantages for being depressed then you wont want to get better that’s the main reason people feel easier to stay depressed.
Causes of Depression :
- Abuse: Past physical, sexual, or emotional abuse can increase the vulnerability to clinical depression later in life.
- Certain medications: Some drugs, such as ISOTRETINOIN (used to treat acne), the antiviral drug interferon-alpha, and corticosteroids, can increase your risk of depression.
- Conflict: Depression in someone who has the biological vulnerability to develop depression may result from personal conflicts or disputes with family members or friends.
- Death or a loss: Sadness or grief from the death or loss of a loved one, though natural, may increase the risk of depression.
- Genetics: A family history of depression may increase the risk. It’s thought that depression is a complex trait, meaning that there are probably many different genes that each exert small effects, rather than a single gene that contributes to disease risk. The genetics of depression, like most psychiatric disorders, are not as simple or straightforward as in purely genetic diseases such as Huntington’s chorea or cystic fibrosis.
- Major events: Even good events such as starting a new job, graduating, or getting married can lead to depression. So can moving, losing a job or income, getting divorced, or retiring. However, the syndrome of clinical depression is never just a “normal” response to stressful life events.
- Other personal problems: Problems such as social isolation due to other mental illnesses or being cast out of a family or social group can contribute to the risk of developing clinical depression,self doubt,self pity.
- Serious illnesses: Sometimes depression co-exists with a major illness or may be triggered by another medical condition.
- Substance Abuse: Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems also have major or clinical depression. Even if drugs or alcohol temporarily make you feel better, they ultimately will aggravate depression.
As shown in the above graph:
At the age of 60 or above, nearly 10% of people were suffering from depression.
However, for age group of 45-60, the rate almost got doubled with 20% suffered depression. Furthermore, at the age around 20-25, the rate further increased and reached to 25% (which was highest among all the age groups).
Now, if this line continues at this rate, then it is estimated that in near future 1 in 2 people will suffer from depression till they reach age 60.
The major reason of people at 60’s getting less depressed and youth getting more depressed is sudden change in their environment or we can say sudden change in their lifestyle.
60 year old has NO ACCESS to the Internet, no Smart Phones, there were no forms of Social Media like Facebook, Instagram, there were no ways to order things right to their front door. It’s clear that depression is caused by this sudden change in environment.
Specific Areas to Work On :
Professor Steven Ilardi from USA dedicated his entire career to figure out “What exactly we can do to cure depression?”. He and his team conducted dozens of studies and came out to a conclusion that,“There are 5 things you need to work on in order to cure your depression”.
1. Physical Activity
Physical activity is something we used to do a lot.
Not to long ago we were busy out in our fields tending to our crops all day or in the woods hunting for food. On average we used to exercise for at least 4 hours a day.
Now lets think about our life, how many hours do we exercise? Most of us have virtually no exercise at all. This shows how effective is the exercise in regards to treating depression.
When u exercise important neurotransmitters such as DOPAMINE and SEROTONIN increases activity levels, but the same neurotransmitters cause depression when they are at low levels.
Sunlight is crucial for 2 reasons :
1. VITAMIN-D : Vitamin-D comes from your skin when it is exposed to sunlight and is primarily responsible for things like your bone health,your immune system and muscle health.
Lack of vitamin D can cause dangerous diseases such as cancer,diabetes & especially mental health. Vitamin D is getting a problem now a days as most of us are spending more time indoors. 40% of people nowadays are having Vitamin D deficiency to some degree.
2. OUR BODY : Sunlight is many many times brighter than indoor light. It turns out that our body need sunlight to set our circadian rhythms(our body clock) right.
It is responsible for :
- sleep regulation
- energy levels
- hormonal regulation
All of these problems have been shown in studies to be a direct link to depression.
We need natural sunlight at least ONCE a DAY in order to set this clock right.
Simple walking in sun just for 10 minutes can properly adjust your circadian rhythm and can combat all side effects.
One of the most potent trigger for depression. Healthy sleep translates into 7-8 hours of sleep with some people being outliers. One of the big complain we have is: “I can’t fall asleep,so i can’t really control how much sleep i get.”
This is how we can get a healthy sleep:
- Don’t use a computer or phone an hour before going to sleep
- Only use your bed for sleep
- Do activities during the day so that you are tired enough to fall asleep instantly.
4. Anti-Ruminative Activity
Researchers found that the more we ruminate (which is essentially thinking about the past), the more likely we get depressed.
You might think it is normal to think about the past (a lot), Isn’t it?
Well in small quantities it might be fine but with uprising of technology and internet more and more people are spending time alone. The problem with being alone is you tend to ruminate a lot.
But we can fight this by engaging in “ENGAGING ACTIVITIES”. The great thing about engaging activities ( such as developing an hobby, learn arts and crafts, working with team in clubs and events and many more) is that they are exciting enough that you don’t really have time to think about the past.
5. Social Connection
The 5th and final factor is probably the most important, SOCIAL CONNECTION.
We humans are social creatures. We used to spend the majority of the time with other humans but this is not the case anymore. In fact 50% of people reported having no close friends.
Strong social network is vital for healthy life. A recent study found that bonding with other human releases certain hormones that reduces stress and anxiety significantly.
Social connection is a problem nowadays because of lack of face to face interaction. We spend so much time on social media, but we barely spend any time face to face.
CONFRONTING is important in order to built long lasting trust and a deep relationship. The ability to interact with someone face to face is a skill that is rarely practiced.
What are some effective ways to fight depression?
The root of depression can itself be the cure of the same.
1. Change your Lifestyle, Try something new
A simple lifestyle change is one of the best anti-depression strategies. Every day, think of a new way to make a positive difference to your anxiety.
Depression can take away your energy, so renew your strength by taking a short walk around the block. Proactive measures like this help you to recover from depression.
Depressed people end up worrying too much. Boldly attempt something you’ve never done before, to divert your emotions and sadness.
Try baking or gardening or any activity that you never thought you would do. This way, you’re forced to focus on something new and occupy yourself productively.
2. Beat Stress
When your body is under immense stress, it produces a hormone called CORTISOL. This hormone could be a very effective tool for a short period as it prepares you to face sudden problems life throws at you. However, in the long run, it can cause damage to your body.
3. Support System
One of the most bravest things you can do is open up and talk about how you are feeling and what is going on with you. Yes, it may be very hard in the beginning to open up to your loved ones or your family.
However, it is important to understand that having a support system will help you in the long run. You will not only forge stronger bonds within your group, but you could also be a pillar of support to someone else in need.
4. Convert your loneliness into your “ME TIME”
Sometimes we get more depressed when we see others enjoying and hanging out with people while we do not have any.
It is fine, go to a restaurant and eat alone. It might seem pretty awkward, you might try to deduce what people are thinking about you initially but nobody cares honestly. Sometimes you need to except the fact that the only person who cares about you is YOU yourself.
After reading this article, I want you to read these two books. Both of them are full of positivity and anti-depressing chapters. Give them a try.
5. Self Love
SELF LOVE is not a bullshit. I follow Mr. Bean here. I save money from my pocket money and treat myself with chocolate. I mean why you have to expect your partner to make you feel special? At the end of the day self love is the best love with no expectation & no grief.
6. Acknowledge your small achievements
It could be a very petty thing for someone to do and stupid for people but it is okay to TREAT YOURSELF with ice cream after appearing in an exam for which you prepared wholeheartedly.
You always treat yourself with ice cream or something you like after an exam that went aligning with your satisfaction. You don’t need anyone to appreciate you when you can appreciate yourself.
7. Do not rely too much on medicine
Most depression medication acts well to fix the chemical imbalance that often occurs with depression. But as with all medicine, you should not expect too much or become too dependent on it.
Counselling and a coordinated effort to be healthy and happy is a better long term solution. Try to avoid negative people.
Instead, strive to be around high-spirited people and focus on your life time achievements if you are suffering from depression.
It is easy to forget all the good things you’ve done in your life after a failure. Concentrate on your talents and draw strength from these past achievements.
8. Work Hard & Maintain Consistency
Despite getting no positive result, keep working hard. It will keep you busy and sometimes it can also gives overwhelmingly surprising results.
Many of us are very skeptical about our performance. We sometimes tend to think “Why I am wasting time by putting efforts on something that I can never achieve & smart people can achieve easily”. But in the end, I assure you will achieve more than so called smart people’s in your life.
9. Be Grateful for What You Have
The more life you breathe into the things that make you happy, the more you’ll find those kinds of things on your way.
Worrying is a part of life. It’s an inevitable fact, and sometimes it’s something we simply can’t control. We’re only human, after all. But we don’t do ourselves any favors when we pour all of our soul into our concerns. It’s a hard cycle to avoid. But when things get tough (which can be often), try to find things to be grateful.
10. Say No To Negativity
Ask someone with depression whether he feels sad and he will probably say he doesn’t feel that way. Rather, he has a pattern of thinking that is severely negative.
For someone with depression it can be a mammoth task to shift one’s thought patterns and avoid such negative trains of thought.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) may hold an answer to this problem. This form of therapy primarily focuses on eliminating negative thought patterns, replacing them with more optimistic patterns of thinking. Additionally, you can take advantage of self-help books, online apps, and courses to change your thinking patterns.
You may feel like the walls of depression are closing down on you from all the sides and you have no way out. It is crucial that you remember that there is always a way. Follow a strict regimen of self-care and stick to it.
Do not take this disorder lightly. If you suffer from anxiety, use the advice above and take action immediately to resolve this condition.
In the end, remember that this is not the life you wanted for yourself. Until you decide to help yourself, nobody can help you. You are valuable to yourself if not others.
These tips will go a long way in helping you battle to depression.
Thank You for reading this article,