DEALING WITH DEPRESSION:
Depression and anxiety, the opposite of the same coin. Yet depression often seems to have a strangle hold on the lives of people who experience it. Depression, when it hits, doesn’t affect all people in exactly the same way.
For some people the depression is major and all encompassing. These people experience extreme sadness, a sense of hopelessness, a lack of energy coupled with thoughts of death or suicide.
However, for far too many people, there is a chronic low grade depression that is experienced with a grayness that colors one’s whole outlook on life. A greater percentage of people struggling with depression appear to be women. This is in line with the National Institute of Health’s report that states that over 70% of women experience some form of depression.
Treatment for depression varies depending on the different types, different causes and different ways it manifests itself in the person. The following list are some of the symptoms commonly expressed by those suffering from depression. This list is not all encompassing. However, it can illustrate what most people who struggle with everyday contend with.
SOME OF THE SYMPTOMS OF COMMON DEPRESSION:
- a decrease in one’s ability to deal with everyday stressors
- too much reliance on sleep as an escape or coping mechanism
- weight loss or weight gain
- disinterest in outside activities
- not suicidal but not caring if the world ends tomorrow
- a struggle to engage in daily routines
- questioning of what life’s all about & its purpose
- merely going through the motions of everyday living
- difficulty concentrating on the task at hand
- fatigue or lack of motivation
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO GET RELIEF FROM THOSE DEPRESSED FEELINGS
Remember, there is not one answer for everyone suffering from depression. The following is a “to do” list you may want to consider.
- Set up an appointment with your physician for a good physical. A thyroid or some type of metabolic imbalance problem may be a contributing factor. Be sure to be tested for every possible condition that may be causing your moods.
- Remember the standard three recommendations; MEDICATION, COUNSELING, ACTIVITY
- MEDICATION– There are all types of anti depressant medication out there. You have to find the right one that works for you. You need to partner with your doctor in order to find the medication that works. You know your body. If you’re body is telling you that the medication is not working right, that the side affects are detrimental, then it is important to speak up to your doctor.
- COUNSELING– Finding the right counselor is a second common recommendation. Being comfortable with the counselor is as important as his or her credentials. Usually cognitive-behavioral therapy is the treatment of choice. Here you will be helped in dealing more effectively with your way of thinking and behaving .
- ACTIVITY– This third one is critical but most resisted. If you are struggling with depression, the last thing you probably want to do is to engage in some type of activity. Often there is little motivation and activity is put off, only to end up feeling worse. However, you need to push yourself in spite of your resistance to moving a muscle. Though you’re depressed, you need to do something, no matter how small, to give you a sense of accomplishment. This is true even if it is only taking a shower, completing one small task a day or going out. Doing nothing or being inactive only deepens your depression.
- Think of things that bring you pleasure now or have in the past. Make it a necessity to focus on doing something each day that brings you pleasure. Focusing on past pleasures consistently will prevent you from sinking deeper in to the quicksand of depression.
- Depressed people usually have a history of doing for others and putting their own needs on the backburner. Balancing this trait with doing things for yourself is a necessity, not a luxury.
- Get out of the house and get involved with people and things on the outside. Staying home usually means staying in your head and if you’re depressed, that is not where you want to be. It will hard at first but will reap benefits.
- Develop a strong support group. Being alone during these depressed times is not good for you. Being around people who understand and nurture you is vital during these low times. If you don’t have that, seek it out. Join a peer support group, a church group. Volunteer in areas that bring you pleasure as opposed to just filling others’ needs to the detriment of your own.
- Take a look at your life style. Examine how you think, the choices you make , and the behavior you exhibit,. These all influence your mood. Even if your depression is solely biochemical in nature, you have choices as to how you live your life. If you have heart problems or some other physical malady, your doctor would most assuredly prescribe life style changes. This is no less the case if you have a predisposition to depression. Believing in your own worth, regardless of your mood, will go a long way in taking charge of your life in ways that are uniquely your own. One way is to find meaning and purpose in your life no matter what your mood.
FINDING PURPOSE AND MEANING TO YOUR LIFE
Chronic negative thoughts about yourself and the world around you is like the kiss of death when it comes to depression. Feeling that your life has no meaning, that there is nothing to look forward to, that the world possibly ending may seem like a welcome relief, cover you up like a heavy shroud. It completely colors and adversely affects all aspect of your life, mentally, physically, bio-chemically and neurologically. Unfortunately, there may be times when no matter what you do, no matter what strategy you implement, no matter what medication you take, the depression persists. During these times you need more than ever to have a personal mission in life that makes living worthwhile and necessary. In our next blog we will talk more about developing a personal mission that brings purpose and meaning to life.
The medicine for my suffering I have within me.”– Bruce Lee
Any questions, comments, or suggestions you may have can be directed to Ray Shocki PhD, LCSW, LMFT at Lifesourcecenter@aol.com