Depression is a debilitating psychological disorder that can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Some of the symptoms of depression include: Weight loss or gain of 5-20 pounds Sleeplessness or excessive sleeping Slowed body movements or thought pro
Depression is a debilitating psychological disorder that can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Some of the symptoms of depression include:
Weight loss or gain of 5-20 pounds
Sleeplessness or excessive sleeping
Slowed body movements or thought processes
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Impaired concentration, indecision or forgetfulness
Thoughts of death or suicide
Women are two to three times more likely to experience depression than men and it is most common in people ages 18 to 44. Current research suggests that depression may result from imbalances in brain chemistry. Thousands of experiments have indicated that changes in the concentration of neurotransmitters, the brain's messengers, are the cause of the problem. These imbalances in the brain can interfere with normal thought and emotion. Depression doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. There are effective therapies available for those who suffer with this disorder. If you have had three or more of the above symptoms lasting two weeks or more, you may be experiencing depression and should discuss it with your doctor. Additionally, the following suggestions are some things you can do on your own to help you feel more like yourself.
1. Engage in regular physical activity
Choose something that you enjoy like running, swimming or any other physical activity that is fun and gets your heart rate up. Recent studies have shown that 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day is as effective in treating depression as medication. Find something that is easy and enjoyable and don’t push yourself too hard at first. Start slow to avoid burnout and as you begin to feel better you can increase the amount or intensity of the exercise.
2. Get together socially with people who are important to you
Often when people feel depressed the last thing they want to do is get out and socialize. However, spending time with people who care about you can stimulate feelings of happiness and pleasure. It also forces you to come out of isolation and provides a distraction from your unhappiness.
3. Talk it out with someone you can trust
Do not try to deal with depression all by yourself. People who are depressed often convince themselves that they can handle it on their own when in reality they need help. Having a friend or family member who is aware of what you are going through will help you to feel less alone and helpless. It will also provide you with an objective observer who can monitor your behavior and encourage you to get medical attention if necessary.
Do something for someone who is in need, like visiting a lonely nursing home patient or a sick child in the hospital. You might be surprised at how much reaching out to others in need makes your own problems seem small in comparison.
5. Set realistic goals for yourself
Don’t expect to accomplish great things while you are depressed. Recognize and applaud yourself for your small accomplishments during this difficult time. Refrain from comparing yourself to others who seem to have their lives perfectly together. Instead, focus on the things that you are doing well in spite of your depression.
A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.