How to deal with Depression ?

Depression is referred to as the common cold of mental disorders. Either directly or indirectly most of the people are affected with it. It is a vast term which negatively affects the feelings and thought process of people. Globally, around 264 million people are affected by depression. It is also seen that one-third of women in their lifetime are affected by depression. It is also considered as the leading cause of disability.

Basically, depression is a mood disorder which can be defined as losing interest in significant parts of life. At one point or the other, we all experience feeling of sorrow and sadness, lack of pleasure or interest in day to day activities. For many of us these feelings are normal and relate it with stressful events. These feelings are normal. As the time passes, they disappear. But, when these types of feelings period persist for a long period of time and interfere in daily routine then, we can state it as depression.

Sadness vs Depression

The common confusion with depression is that people relate it with feeling down or feeling sad. Therefore, it is very important to differentiate between the two. Primarily, feeling down is very habitual in today’s fast paced life. It is completely expected to not feel good for some days. For example, sorrow after death of loved one, youth going through usual mood swings, distress due to workload. In all these situations an individual feels low, sad and loses his interest but this cannot be considered as depression.

The basic difference between feeling down and depression is the seriousness and duration of symptoms. Person with depression feels like he is sunk into deep and dark hole with no way out to move out and no hope for things changing. Therefore, depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses.

Types of Depression

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Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder

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Clinical depression

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Persistent depressive disorder

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Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder

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Substance/ medication induced disorder

Symptoms of Depression

  • Depressed mood most of the day. E.g. feeling sad, low, cranky, irritable
  • Reduced interest in in almost all activities. E.g. no interest in hobbies
  • Sleeping issues. E.g. insomnia (difficulty staying asleep) hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
  • Psychomotor agitation. E.g. problems in sitting still, continuous restlessness
  • Psychomotor retardation. E.g. deliberate actions, slowed speech
  • Feeling of worthlessness and guilt. E.g. thinking over past failings
  • Concentration issues. E.g. distraction, memory problems
  • Fatigue, tiredness, and loss of energy
  • Persistent thoughts of death and suicide
  • Substantial weight loss or decrease in appetite. E.g. change in more than 5% of body weight over a month

How to Deal with Depression

1. Stay connected:

Support system plays a vital role in dealing with depression. Staying connected with other people and attending social gatherings helps in the modification of mood and outlook. There are many ways in which a person can stay connected like, talking about your feelings, planning lunch or dinner with a friend, calling an old friend, meeting new people by joining different social groups. It will help in improvement of isolated and irritated behaviour.

2. Do things that you used to enjoy:

Push yourself to indulge in pleasure activities even if you don’t feel like it. For example, start playing your favourite sport, express yourself through your hobbies, go on trips with your friends etc. You may not feel good immediately but slowly you will energetic and good as you spend time in such leisure activities. This will help in relaxation and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

3. Regular exercise:

It is considered as a powerful tool to deal with depression. Researches have also found that exercise is as effective as medication for depression. So, target for at least 20 minutes of daily exercise. It can be jogging, walking, swimming, weight training etc. This will improve the energy levels and help you feel less weak. Joining any fitness or health club will help you keep motivated and targeted.

4. Eat healthy:

Studies show that eating habits play a huge role in mental illness. For example, a research of 2012 shows that zinc deficiency increases the symptoms of depression. Improving your diet can be a key feature to deal with illness. Reduce intake of food that affect your mood such as alcohol, caffeine, sugary snacks, refined carbohydrates, and trans-fat. Take more Omega-3 fatty acids and B-complex vitamins in form of citrus fruits, leafy greens, chicken, eggs, and fish.

5. Improve your sleep cycle:

Mood and sleepare deeply relatedwith each other. A research of 2014 says that 80% of people with depression encounters sleep disturbances. Therefore, it is necessary to improve your sleep cycle and maintain a good sleep hygiene. It can be done by turning off electronics an hour before going to bed, using bed only for sleep, reading a book in low light before sleep. This will help in relaxation.

6. Getting a good dose of sunlight:

It is seen that sunlight helps in boosting the serotonin level of the body. Serotonin is closely related with mood enhancement. Going out for a casual walk, exposing yourself in sun for at least 15 minutes will help in elevation of mood.

7. Take responsibilities:

Staying engaged and having responsibilities can help in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This will also help you make feel better. Setting goals and deadlines will help in breaking the habit of procrastination.

8. Challenge your negative thoughts:

Depression causes you to think more negatively. Telling yourself to think positive again and again can improve your mood. Identifying the negative thought and changing it with a more balanced positive thought is the best way to deal with depression. A psychotherapy named as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) works on the similar idea. It will also help in developing a good perspective towards life.

The common feature of all these disorders is the presence of sad, empty, irritable mood. There are many cognitive and somatic changes that affects a person’s ability to function.
Mansi Mathur
Content Writer

Sources:  WHO, HelpGuide, APA, VeryWellMind