Since the pandemic's beginning, people have been more open about mental health. Talking about everyday struggles and more persistent and clinical issues has become more normalized on social media, in conversation, and in entertainment. But hearing talk about labels like depression, anxiety, and trauma don't always give the whole picture of what is experienced and how healing happens. If you find yourself wondering, "Is this depression?" chances are that you can search for symptoms on the internet. However, finding out about personal experiences and common symptoms that don't meet clinical criteria can leave you with more questions than answers.
You have questions about depression, and we want to answer them.
Who Does Depression Affect?
Depression affects everyone differently, and it can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. For some people, depression may be a short-term problem that goes away on its own, and for others, depression may be a long-term problem that requires treatment.
Depression can cause feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair, and it can also make it difficult to enjoy life and make decisions. Depression can lead to problems with sleep, appetite, and energy levels, and it can also lead to thoughts about suicide or harming oneself.
There is no one cause of depression. However, many things can contribute to the development of depression, including:
-A history of depression in family systems can contribute to depression in an individual. This may be caused by growing up in a home with a parent or family member who has untreated depression or environments that contribute directly to depression, such as poverty or violence.
-Loss of a loved one or multiple losses over a short period. Losses may not be related explicitly to losing loved ones; they may be life losses, such as losing a job, loss of a home, loss of a pet, or loss of a relationship.
-Life transitions, even if they are a normal part of life, like graduating or moving, can cause depression as they destabilize a person's sense of who they are in the world. A person who has graduated high school may have difficulty moving and going to college even though many of their peers are doing the same thing.
What Does Depression Feel Like?
Depression can feel like a sense of deep sadness, a feeling of hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed. It can also feel like a heavy or tight weight on your chest, difficulty breathing, and an inability to concentrate. Depression can even cause you to lose interest in your appearance and feel tired all the time.
There can even be physical symptoms of depression like body aches, headaches, stiff or sore muscles, and tension in your neck and shoulders. Chronic pain can cause depression over time, impacting your quality of life and your autonomy. It can be a complicated cycle of pain leading to depression and depression leading to more pain.
Depression can also feel like a lack of interest in things you used to enjoy, and it can feel like many things that used to be fun are now pointless and tedious. You may have passive suicidal thoughts about not wanting to wake up, just not existing anymore, or hoping that everyone in your life forgets you.
Other experiences of being depressed don't always fit into the deep sadness category. Some people experience what is sometimes called "smiling depression" This person may feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Still, they push ahead and do things just as they usually would because they don't know how to do anything different. They may think that something is wrong, but it can't be depression because they can get out of bed every day and still work and care for their family.
What Might Change When A Person Is Depressed?
When someone is depressed, their mood can be consistently low, and they may have problems with sleeping, eating, and concentrating. Some common changes that might occur when someone is depressed include decreased energy, decreased interest in activities once enjoyed, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, and irritability.
In the world around a person who struggles with depression, a social gathering may feel like too much work or too exhausting. They may avoid their friends and isolate themselves. They will often be tired all of the time and sleep more often. They may also have insomnia and keep an odd sleeping schedule. They may complain of constantly feeling exhausted, not just physically tired, but emotionally tired. They may have changes in their appetite, a lack of hunger feelings, or feelings of never being full.
Work may feel harder for someone struggling with depression, and they may be irritable and annoyed by others around them. They may need more time to themselves and feel like they can't relax or unplug after work or social interactions.
What Can Someone Do To Help With Depression?
If you think that you may be depressed, it can be tough to reach out and ask for help. Often depression thoughts can say that people will judge us if we ask for help, we are burdening our loved ones, or that no one wants to help us. We can have thoughts about not being worth getting help or thoughts about there not being anything anyone can do to help. Please know that many people want to help and can absolutely help you feel better and get back to living. While depression often feels like things will never get better, it definitely can when you get the right help.
How can a person struggling with depression find the help that they need?
Tell someone close to you that you are struggling. You don't have to tell them every little detail, but an honest conversation about how you're feeling can help you feel like someone gets it and can support you as you take the following steps.
Talk to your doctor. General practitioners know about depression and how to help you. They will assess your symptoms and determine if there is an underlying health issue which may be contributing to how you are feeling. At times, they may recommend medication. If you are not open to taking medication for depression, ask your doctor for alternatives. Your doctor can talk with you about what would be best for you and the symptoms you are experiencing. Your doctor can also give you a recommendation to a therapist.
You can also look for a therapist on your own. You can do an internet search for keywords like depression, depression relief, therapists in my area, depression specialist, along with your city and state information. It is crucial to find the right therapist for you, but even if you don't see them on the first try, they can refer you to someone who may be a better fit.
How can I help someone struggling with depression?
There is no one correct answer to this question, as the best way to help someone with depression may vary depending on the individual's specific situation and health condition. However, some things that may help include:
-talking to a mental health professional about your loved one's depression, if they are not already seeing one
-helping your loved one stay active and engaged in their activities, even if they are feeling down
-providing support and encouragement, both verbal and physical
-offering practical help, such as grocery shopping or housekeeping
-reminding your loved one that they are not alone and that there are people who care about them
Treatment for depression can include medication, therapy, or a combination of both. Frequently, a change in lifestyle or environment can also help alleviate symptoms.
Thankfully, there are so many options for healing from depression. Online therapy is prevalent now, which can be a relief for those who dread leaving the house or who have a demanding schedule. Knowing that you can access the help you need online can make reaching out just a little easier when depression makes everything feel daunting and complicated. When you or your loved one are ready to access support for the difficulties living with depression can bring, reach out and let us know. We can't wait to hear from you! Visit us at www.attentivepsychotherapy.com
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