Scrolling in one of my social media accounts, I noticed unusual posts from a long time friend. We are not that close yet I’ve known her as a happy and optimistic person but this past few months she seems hopeless and lonely. She shares sad quotes, angry remarks, and at times, suicidal thoughts. I felt there’s something that is not right. I know it is none of my business however I was urged to give her a PM just to check if she’s doing fine. I asked her if how’s everything and told her I’m a bit concerned with her recent posts. She replied, ” I am okay, just feeling a bit depressed.” Depressed—the word that made me more worried. I told her if she needs someone to talk to or listen to, I’m just a message away. She appreciated the gesture and assured me she’s going to be fine.
When I hear the word depression before, it’s just a normal kind of sad emotion. But these days, it sends a different meaning. Feeling down once in a while is a normal part of life, but when you feel emotions such as hopelessness and despair and clings for a long time, it may be more than what we think as just plain sadness. It might be crossing the borderline of depression.
What is Depression
Depression is a mental illness that can change the way you think, feel and function with your everyday activities. This involves a lot of symptoms, like feeling exhausted all the time, not doing your usual enjoyable activities, or thoughts of death and suicide. The occurrence of depression last at least 2 weeks at a time. Though the causes of depression are not fully understood and may not be down to a single source, it usually results from a combination of recent events and other longer-term or personal factors, rather than one immediate issue or event. It can also be triggered by a sad event or they can seemingly come of out of nowhere.
What are the Symptoms of Depression
Depression varies per individual but there are common signs and symptoms. The good news is it can be treated with early diagnosis. Recognizing the symptoms is key. Though these symptoms may be a normal feeling when one experiences life’s lows, we should be cautious that the more symptoms one has, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that one is dealing with depression. Consulting your regular doctor is a good place to start. They can assess and help manage your symptoms such as:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation. Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings.
- Loss of interest in things once pleasurable. You don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex.
- Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
- Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning or sleeping too much.
- Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
- Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
- Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
- Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions or remembering details.
- Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, stomach pain, and cramps that won’t go away.
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts. Talking about killing or harming one’s self. Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out”
What Can you do to Cope up with Depression
When you’re depressed you may feel that there’s no way out or nothing can change your situation. However, there are many things you can do to lift your spirit up and get going. It may take time but committing to help yourself to make positive choices can slowly —but surely make you feel better.
Here are some actions you can do to cope up with depression:
Reach out and Stay Connected. Choosing to be alone and to be cut off from other people’s lives fuels depression, so reach out to your friends and loved ones, even if you feel like being alone. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Talking to someone about how you feel face to face can be relieving. That person doesn’t have to be able to fix you. He or she just needs to be a good listener—someone who’ll listen and won’t judge you.
Join a support group for depression. Being with others dealing with depression can go a long way in reducing your sense of isolation. You can also encourage each other, give and receive advice on how to cope, and share your experiences.
Get moving. Your body might feel heavy getting out of bed but regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication in countering the symptoms of depression. Taking a short walk outside or dance around the house can be a good start. Begin with small activities and slowly build up from there.
Eat a mood-boosting diet. Reduce your intake of pro-inflammatory foods that can adversely affect your mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, sugar, and refined carbs. Additionally, increase mood-enhancing nutrients such as Omega-3 & Omega-9 fatty acids.
Research shows that patients with inflammatory diseases, those who are taking more pro-inflammatory foods than anti-inflammatory foods, are more likely to show greater rates of depression. Balance out your pro-inflammatory diet by taking more anti-inflammatory foods like fatty fish, olive oil, vegetables and MUFA food supplement. MonoUnsaturated Fatty Acids (MUFA) help reduce inflammation.
Find ways to engage again with the world. Spend some time in nature, care for a pet, volunteer, pick up a hobby you used to enjoy (or take up a new one). You won’t feel like it at first, but as you participate in the world again, you will start to feel better.
It is normal to feel sad, lonely or depressed when we experience struggles in life such as loss of a loved one, failures, wounded self-esteem, etc. However, if that feeling stays for a longer period of time and already keeps you from leading a normal life, it is something you should be mindful of.
Depression is treatable. Trying the activities above can make you feel better. (Even if you’re just feeling down and don’t actually have depression). However, if these positive lifestyle choices aren’t enough, it’s time to seek professional help from a doctor who can give effective treatments available that suits you.
About The Author
Andrea is a full time home maker. When she is not busy taking care of her husband and kids, she goes out giving financial management talks. She is a proud breastfeeding mom for four years running and an avid Oleia user.