We’ve all had to plod our way through days when we’ve felt depressed and not at the top of our game. It’s a normal part of the human condition to feel this way on occasion. For most of us, the feelings pass, and we move on.
However, things get more serious when feelings of sadness become overwhelming and there’s no respite for days, weeks, or months at a time.
There is good news and bad news. The good news is that depression can be treated. The sad news is that nearly two-thirds of depression sufferers never seek help. Despite numerous claims to the contrary in the media, many people mistakenly believe that depression is a personal weakness, and sufferers should just get over it. At least, they could if they wanted to.
Many depression sufferers fail to seek help because they are in denial that anything is wrong, while others fail to recognize the symptoms.
The first step in getting help is to recognize that depression is a disease and not the consequence of a weak character. The second is to know when depression is present – either in yourself or in others. I have summed up many of the most common symptoms which manifest during feelings of depression.
Symptoms of Depression
- Inability to concentrate, remember, or make decisions.
- Losing or gaining weight, changes in appetite (eating more or less).
- No interest in sex.
- Changes in sleeping habits: sleeping more, sleeping less, or insomnia.
- Lack of energy, feeling fatigued, lethargic, restless, and irritable.
- No motivation for daily activities.
- Feeling negative thoughts about oneself: guilt, no self-worth, self-blame, self-criticism.
- Always feeling empty, without purpose, discouraged, or down.
Immediate professional help is needed if the above symptoms persist, and any of the following symptoms also manifest.
- Unexplained chronic pain, headaches, and digestive disorders.
- Constantly thinking about death or suicide.*
- Weeping and crying excessively.
What to Do About Mild Depression
You can lift a mild depression by socializing more with positive, uplifting, and understanding friends. Participate in activities you enjoy, such as ball games and going out to the cinema. Social activities and community gatherings can also lift your spirits and put you in a better frame of mind.
Physical activity produces many changes in the body and mind, with many of them affecting brain chemistry in a positive way, such as looking and feeling better, pride in overcoming a challenge, and making you feel more alert. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise as even a spot of active gardening can help lighten your mood – and your yard will benefit from the activity as well.
Large tasks you need to get done can seem overwhelming when you’re mildly depressed. Break them up into smaller tasks and set your priorities so you get the most important ones out of the way first. Never take on too much, and always discuss how you are feeling with close friends and family.
If you ever feel you need the help of a therapist, then don’t hesitate to set up an appointment.
Things to Avoid When You Are Depressed
- Don’t isolate yourself from the world.
- Avoid setting goals that may be too challenging.
- Don’t take on too much responsibility, and don’t expect too much of yourself.
- Avoid making life-changing decisions such as getting married (or divorced) or changing careers – seek the counsel of objective parties who know you well.
- Don’t expect to cure depression overnight – it’s a gradual process.
- Don’t let negative thoughts dominate your mind – practice mindful and positive thinking strategies.
If the symptoms of depression last more than few weeks and mild depression progresses into a more severe condition, then professional help should always be the next step. Depression treatment has a high success rate, and everyone deserves to live a happy and fulfilled life.
Read more about getting help for your depression here: Depression Treatment
*If you are currently feeling suicidal call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 today.