Among roughly seven billion people in this world, it may be statistically impossible to find someone who hasn’t experienced or at least witnessed another person dealing with depression. It doesn’t pick and choose. Depression can take hold of anyone regardless of age, race, occupation, relationship status, or educational background.
Depression is a mental condition that impacts how you feel, think, and behave. It can cause a wide range of symptoms, from mild to severe. An estimate of around 19.4 million adults in the U.S. experienced depression at some point in their lives in 2019.
Though the rate is alarming, this common mood disorder is treatable, but it’s important to note that while the symptoms of depression are real, they can differ widely from one person to another. What might be a significant problem for one individual may not even seem like an issue to someone else.
Are There Signs?
Depression is diagnosed by looking at the symptoms, duration of these symptoms, and any history of depression. For example, if an individual has five or more depressive symptoms that have lasted for most of the day nearly every day for two weeks or longer, they may be showing signs of depression.
Along with a depressed mood, you may notice changes in your sleeping and eating habits, a loss of interest in activities you would once enjoy, or feeling worthless or guilty.
What Causes It?
Depression isn’t caused by one thing. Rather, it may be due to a combination of either one or more of the following:
• Genetic: Anyone can develop depression. However, if it runs in your family, you’ll likely be more at risk of developing the disorder.
• Environmental: The way we live, what we do daily, and the environment around us can impact our mental health. For instance, stress caused by a poor work environment and a chaotic atmosphere at home may lead to depression.
• Social: This may include social pressures like pressure to succeed, your relationships breaking down such as divorce or losing your partner, and social isolation.
• Psychological: Depression can be associated with changes in brain chemistry, which means that some types of depression may require medication. Personality traits like pessimism and low self-esteem also play a role.
• Biological factors: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during the menstrual cycle or after giving birth, can also contribute to depression.
What Can Be Done To Treat It?
For some, depression goes away on its own after a short period. Others may need treatment for a more extended period.
If you or someone you know needs help in dealing with depression, there are many ways to get the support you need in coping with depression. Therapy, medication, and even self-help strategies are some of the best options.
You can also visit the website of treatment centers like https://jacksonhousecares.com or other similar institutions that offer a variety of resources and treatments that may help manage your symptoms, help you deal with depression, and improve your quality of life.
In addition to seeking professional help, several natural treatments can help manage depression. Here are some options you may try:
1. Maintaining A Regular Exercise Routine
Exercise stimulates your brain to release those feel-good chemicals that can elevate your mood. It is also considered an effective solution for mild depression, as well as many other mood disorders.
According to the National Library of Medicine, ‘Exercise appears to be as effective as medication for many people with mild to moderate depression.’
Some of the most recommended exercises for depression include aerobic exercise, Yoga, and Tai Chi. These are all great ways to get started on your way toward a happier you.
Exercise is not a quick fix, however. You may not see or feel the benefits immediately, but if you stick with it, you’ll likely see an improvement in your mood. That’s why it’s important to find an activity that you enjoy and will want to keep doing.
2. Getting Enough Restful Sleep
Aside from keeping your body active through exercise, sleep is essential for optimal mental health. If you are suffering from depression, it can be challenging to maintain enough sleep per night.
However, getting enough sleep each night (usually 7-8 hours for adults) can be a powerful defense against depression.
Studies show that adults who get fewer hours of sleep per night are more likely to experience feelings of depression. There’s no identified relationship between sleep and depression, but it appears that the two processes share the same center in your brain. For this reason, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep each night.
If you’ve trouble sleeping, there are several things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene and get the best out of your slumber:
• Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
• Reserve the bed for sleep and create an environment that promotes relaxation.
• Establish a regular sleep schedule.
• Avoid working or using electronic devices in bed.
Once you’ve gotten into a good sleep routine, you should start to see a difference in your mood and overall well-being.
3. Eating A Healthy Diet
The food you take has a direct impact on your mood. If you are not getting the nutrients your body needs, it can lead to depression and anxiety.
A balanced diet is also known to help maintain your mental health. Be sure to add plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein to your diet. Avoid eating processed foods and sugary snacks, which can do more harm than good.
If you’re not sure where to start, try following the Mediterranean diet, for example. This diet is more on fruits and vegetables, plus whole grains and healthy fats that may effectively reduce the risk of depression.
4. Connecting With Others
Among other options, one of the best ways to cope with depression is to connect with others. Whether through friends, family, or a support group, being around people who care can help improve your mood.
Social support is a critical factor that helps in preventing and recovering from depression. Support from friends and family can be beneficial, as they can provide a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
You may consider looking for and joining a support group if you don’t have any close friends or family members to turn to. There are many groups available for people with depression, and it can be helpful to talk to people who understand and validate what you’re going through.
5. Practicing Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of the present moment and accepting your thoughts and feelings without judgment. It might be a helpful tool for managing depression and improving your overall well-being.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by depressive thoughts, mindfulness can help you step back and take a more objective look at your situation. It can help you avoid getting stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts, creating boundaries between yourself and your disorder.
To practice mindfulness at home, you may try the following these steps:
• Take some time for yourself each day—around 15 minutes should do.
• Get in a position in which you’re most comfortable (sitting, laying down).
• Close your eyes and focus on taking slow, deep breaths.
• Try to let your thoughts freely come and go without getting involved in them.
• If you get distracted, that’s okay; just bring your focus back to your breathing.
• When you’re finished, you may slowly open your eyes and stretch if needed.
Mindfulness can be challenging to master, but it can be a powerful tool in managing depression.
6. Keeping a Journal
Writing in a journal is another excellent way to get your feelings out and stay positive. It’s not necessary to write for long hours every day, but keeping a record of your experiences can help improve your mood.
When you’re feeling depressed, try writing about how you’re feeling and what triggered the emotion. It may help to write in a positive or neutral tone, rather than negative. Try to avoid using harsh judgment and self-criticism.
It may also help to write down things you’re grateful for. Even if you’re feeling down, there are always things to be thankful for. Writing your thoughts down on paper or a blog can help you focus on the good things in your life and boost your mood.
You may try these prompts to help you get started:
• What are you grateful for today?
• What’s the best thing that happened to you today?
• What’s the worst thing that happened to you today?
• What were your thoughts and feelings about?
7. Doing Something You Enjoy
When you’re feeling down, it may also be helpful to do something you enjoy. Whether reading, painting, hiking, or spending time with friends, activities that make you happy can help improve your mood.
It’s important to find activities that you truly enjoy, not things you do out of obligation. When you’re enjoying yourself, you’re less likely to focus on your negative thoughts and emotions.
If you have difficulty identifying activities you’d like, try doing one thing you used to love. It can also be helpful to seek out new activities; many communities offer free or low-cost classes that you might enjoy.
Depression is a serious condition that requires attention and treatment. However, there are many options available that can help you to cope with it. With time and patience, these methods may help you manage your depression and improve your overall well-being.
There is no one-size-fits-all to coping with depression, but those mentioned above are some helpful tips that may work for you. If you’re struggling with your symptoms, it may be best to speak to healthcare professionals. They can help you find and plan the best treatment for you.
Remember that you are not alone in this. There are people who care and want to help. So, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.