What is it?
First off, depression is a serious illness. It is a mental illness, and it affects more than 16 million American adults each year.(Healthline) In fact, it is often referred as the “common cold” of mental illness. Everyone gets sad from time to time, it’s life, it happens. Sadness that lasts for weeks at a time however, is major depression. “Major depression is an episode of sadness or apathy along with other symptoms that lasts at least two consecutive weeks and is severe enough to interrupt daily activities.” (Depression Overview) “People who are depressed cannot simply “pull themselves together” and be cured. Without proper treatment, including antidepressants and/or psychotherapy, untreated clinical depression can last for weeks, months, or years.” (Untreated Depression)
What are the symptoms of depression?
They include feeling several of the following for at least 2 weeks:
- Feeling sad, anxious, or empty
- Feeling hopeless or pessimistic
- Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
- Not enjoying things you used to enjoy
- Trouble with concentration, memory, or making decisions
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Appetite changes
- Gaining or losing weight
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Thoughts of suicide or death
In kids and teens, the symptoms may include:
- Insomnia, fatigue, headache, stomachache, dizziness
- Apathy, social withdrawal, unintended weight loss
- Drug abuse or alcohol abuse, a drop in school performance, trouble concentrating
- Isolation from family and friends
How is it caused?
There is not one direct cause to depression, a lot of things can lead to depression. Stress is a word that lots of people associate with depression. “To deal with stress, the body’s natural “flight or fight” reactions kick in. Namely: shutting down nonessential or distracting activities, enhancing delivery of “fuel” to the main muscles, suppressing appetite for food and sex, heightens alertness, and increasing levels of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol.” (Medical Causes of Depression) So experiencing stress over long periods of time can lead to depression.
How can I manage it?
Depression takes away your energy. It takes away your drive and will to do positive things. So fighting depression, while it isn’t impossible, it is hard. You have to start out doing little positive things for yourself.
Getting exercise may no be the first thing on someone’s mid who is depressed, but it will help. Getting outside and getting active can help out with battling depression. Sunlight can help boost serotonin levels and improve your mood.
You should “challenge” your negative thinking. “As you cross-examine your negative thoughts, you may be surprised at how quickly they crumble. In the process, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective.” (Coping with Depression)
“What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your brain and mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones (such as certain meats). Don’t skip meals. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours. Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these “feel-good” foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Aim to cut out as much of these foods as possible. Boost your B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger depression. To get more, take a B-complex vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.” (Coping with Depression)
Am I really at risk?
Untreated depression can lead to serious physical health problems. It drastically affects your sleep patterns, and abnormalities in your sleep patterns can have devastating results in your health. “The most recent studies exploring health and major depression have looked at patients with stroke or coronary artery disease. Results have shown that people with major depression who are recovering from strokes or heart attacks have a more difficult time making health care choices. Another study found that patients with major depression have a higher risk of death in the first few months after a heart attack.” (Untreated Depression)
“Depression Overview Slideshow: Emotional Symptoms, Physical Signs, and More.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
“Medical Causes of Depression.” Clinical Depression.co.uk. N.p., 13 Oct. 2014. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
“Depression and Mental Health by the Numbers: Facts, Statistics, and You.”Healthline. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
“Coping with Depression.” Coping with Depression: Self-Help Tips to Deal with and Overcome Depression. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.
“Side Effects of Untreated Depression.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2017.