Depression is a word with more than one meaning. In every-day conversation, it means a sad or glum mood. As a clinical term, depression refers to a clinical disorder that can be quite debilitating. When we experience a depressed mood, we may feel down for a few hours, maybe even a few days, but we resume our lives as we refocus our energies. When one is suffering from the clinical disorder known as depression, s(he) is unable to resume normal functioning even when that is the desired goal. This confusion about the word, "depression" leads many people to believe that someone who is suffering from the clinical syndrome of depression can "snap out of it" and resume normal functioning at will. However, that is often not possible. Outlined below are the common symptoms associated with depression.
- Depressed mood most of the time
- Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
- Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
- Feeling worthless or unusually guilty
- Significant change in body weight
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Movement is either slowed down or speeded up
- Suicidal thoughts, plan or gestures
Although there are many theories on the causes of depression, it may be helpful to think of depression as your body's way of telling you that something is not going well in your life. Outlined below are practical strategies for relieving depression.
- Exercise. The sad irony is that depression often makes it difficult to muster up the energy to exercise, yet exercise can be very helpful in reducing depression. The five-minute rule works well here. Strive to exercise for five minutes (or even one minute if that's all you can do). If after the allotted time, you need to stop, then do so keeping in mind that even small amounts of exercise can help with depression. However, there may often be times when you feel like exercising longer, so proceed for as long as you can.
- Eat Right. Complex carbohydrates and lean protein can aid in reducing depression while most of the unhealthy stuff (sugar, caffeine, fatty foods, alcohol) tend to aggravate depression even though you might feel an initial boost. Allow yourself some treats in moderation (after all, you need some pleasure in your life), but strive for an eating plan that consists of 80% healthy food and 20% "fun" food.
- Take time to ask yourself the following questions.
- If your anxiety could talk, what would it be saying to you? (besides slow down, and listen)
- Have you experienced any losses recently? Sometimes "insignificant" losses may have a big effect.
- Are you satisfied with your life in general? If not, what is not satisfactory?
- Are there issues from your childhood (e.g., abuse, parental alcoholism) that need to be resolved?
- Do you like yourself? How do you compare yourself to others?
- Listen to what you tell yourself. Challenge any belief that contains the following words or phrases.
||It's their fault
- Find a supportive person with whom you can discuss your concerns.
- Consider taking herbs (St. John's Wort, Same) or antidepressants under your physician's supervision.
- Seek professional help if you are suicidal or if your symptoms are significantly impairing your ability to function.
- Focus on the aspects of your life that are going well. All too often, people who are depressed focus exclusively on the negative things. Spend five minutes a day writing down the things for which you are grateful (e.g., your health, not being homeless, having at least one friend or family member, having enough smarts and strengths to get through this, having access to a computer to even read this).
Counseling Services can be reached at (815) 836-5455 during hours of operation.