Depression is a common illness worldwide with more than 264 million people affected. Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life. Especially when long-lasting and with moderate or severe intensity, depression may become a serious health condition. It can cause the affected person to suffer greatly and function poorly at work, at school and in the family. At its worst, depression can lead to suicide if no deliberate steps are taken towards overcoming depression.
Signs to watch out for
Being unhappy isn’t the same as being depressed, having a hopeless or helpless outlook on your life is the most common symptom of depression. Depression can also take the pleasure or enjoyment out of the things you love, a loss of interest or withdrawal from activities that you once looked forward to is a telltale sign of major depression. Depression is also linked with insomnia, as one might lead to the other and vice versa. They can also make each other worse. The lack of quality, restful sleep can also lead to anxiety. Weight and appetite can fluctuate for people with depression. This experience may be different for each person. Some people will have an increased appetite and gain weight, while others won’t be hungry and will lose weight. One indication of whether dietary changes are related to depression is if they’re intentional or not. If they’re not, it may mean that they’re caused by depression.
While recovering from depression isn’t quick or easy, you do have more control than you realize. The key is to start small and build up from there. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, you’ll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier, healthier, and more hopeful again.
- Do things that make you feel good: In order to overcome depression, you have to do things that relax and energize you. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning how to better manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, and scheduling fun activities into your day.
- Get moving: When you’re depressed, just getting out of bed can seem like a daunting task, let alone working out! But exercise is a powerful depression fighter and one of the most important tools in your recovery arsenal. To get the most benefit, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day. This doesn’t have to be all at once and it’s okay to start small. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.
- Challenge negative thinking: Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself and your expectations for the future. When you really examine them they don’t hold up. But even so, they can be tough to give up. You can’t break out of this pessimistic mind frame by telling yourself to “just think positive.” Often, it’s part of a lifelong pattern of thinking that’s become so automatic you’re not even completely aware of it. Rather, the trick is to identify the type of negative thoughts that are fueling your depression, and replace them with a more balanced way of thinking.
- When to get help: If you’ve taken self-help steps and made positive lifestyle changes towards overcoming depression and still find your depression getting worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can feel better!