“Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. . . . It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope.― J.K. Rowling
That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It is a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”
I have been thinking about depression lately. Not because I am depressed, but because so many people are. It has stoked a curiosity in me.
There are so many articles written about it, and there appears to be an equal quantity of suggestions, things to do that may help lift you out of depression.
I have two questions. Is there a difference between feeling sad and depression? What activities or treatment work in the treatment of depression?
Reading a recent blog, someone suggested being active as a treatment. My immediate reaction was, “yes, sure, but would that work for all the different levels of depression.” I had my doubts so I decided to do some research. I think there is a general misunderstanding of depression, a lack of knowledge and a misuse of the term.
There are so many types of depression, from mild to extreme, would one action be an effective treatment for all levels? When I was researching to learn more, here are the types of depression I found:
Major Depression: you feel depressed most of the time for most days of the week.
Persistent Depressive Disorder: you have depression that lasts for two years or longer.
Bi-Polar Depression also referred to as Manic Depression; you have mood episodes that range from extremes of high energy with an “up” mood to low “depressive” periods.
Seasonal Affective Disorder: you have a period of major depression that most often happens during the winter months.
Psychotic Depression: you have the symptoms of Major Depression along with “psychotic” symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions and paranoia.
Women may also suffer from two more:
Peripartum Depression – also known as Postpartum Depression. You may have major depression after childbirth, which can last for weeks, up to months.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: you may experience depression at the start of your period.
The symptoms for each type of depression are similar. They include loss of interest, having problems sleeping, being restless or agitated, being tired with no energy, trouble concentrating and making decisions. You may also experience weight loss or gain.
With Persistent Depressive Disorder, you may also have low self-esteem and feel hopeless.
How are each of these types of depression treated?
Major Depression is treated with psychotherapy, also referred to as “talk” therapy. Sometimes antidepressants may be used. Sometimes Electroconvulsive Therapy (ETC) and Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (RTMS) may be used.
Scary sounding stuff, isn’t it? What is scary to me is the treatments for Major Depression are the same used for treating Psychotic Depression *(see below). Are the two types that similar to each other? Now that is scary.
Persistent Depressive Disorder is treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Bipolar Depressive Disorder is treated differently by using medications, such lithium which is a mood-stabilizer. The FDA has approved three drugs, and doctors sometimes will prescribe others as well. Psychotherapy, or Talk Therapy, is also used.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is treated with antidepressants and also light therapy.
*Psychotic Depression is treated with a combination of antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs. Sometimes ECT or Electroconvulsive therapy, which is a brief electrical stimulation of the brain, is used.
Postpartum Depression and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder are treated with antidepressants when necessary.
The interesting part of this research is none of the remedies mentioned any natural treatments. That made absolutely no sense to me. All of the above information came from WebMD, which is a popular, highly used, and trusted source of information.
I furthered my research by asking the question, “Can Depression be treated with natural remedies?” Because I used WebMD for the first information, I used it again for the ‘Natural Remedies”.
Here is what I found recommended for treatment:
Establish a routine – when you are depressed, you may move away from any structure, and time can blur. By establishing a light schedule, it may help you feel more balanced.
Set some goals – when you are depressed, it is easy to feel you cannot do anything which, of course, makes you feel worse. Start to add some goals for what you will do each day.
Exercise – get moving, go for a walk, do some yoga, or do any type of activity that raises your heart rate. That will release the feel-good chemicals called endorphins into your bloodstream.
Eat healthy foods – when you are depressed, the tendency is to either not eat or to overeat. We eat to feel good. There is no “magic” food which will take away your depression, but it is always the best practice to eat the right foods. You will feel better and have more energy if you are fueling your body.
Sleep – depression can disrupt a proper sleep cycle. Try to go to bed, and get up, at the same time. Eliminate anything that may disturb your sleep, like any computer or TV, your telephone and any excess light or noise.
Maintain responsibilities – instead of giving up responsibilities at work and home because you are depressed and do not feel capable, keep doing them. Even if you cannot complete all of them, keep working on finishing them. It will give you a sense of accomplishment.
No negative thinking – when you are depressed, your thoughts will be negative. Work hard at countering those thoughts. Try to concentrate on all the things you have accomplished in the past and realize you can do them. Surround yourself with positive mantras and focus on them.
Follow your doctors instructions in regarding any medications. Do not take any other over the counter medications or supplements without consulting your doctor. Although they could help, they could also interact with the medicines you are using.
Do something different, something new to you. It may help you to relax and feel better. It has been scientifically proven that our brains release a chemical called dopamine when we do something new.
Maintain Fun in your life – Continue to do the things that you enjoy and find relaxing, such as going out to dinner or a movie with friends. Go to the park, exercise, play with your kids, or take the dog for a walk.
Now that I have done some research, I understand, even more than before, that depression is a real problem. I realize that most of us do not understand depression, and we also probably don’t want to. Depression is scary.
Most of us often say, “I’m depressed!” We casually throw it out there in conversation. Are we? No, a big fat no, we are not. It is used too randomly without any real thought or understanding.
I think that is a problem. It prevents us from taking it seriously. When someone says they are depressed and we shrug and think, “yeah, right,” and we move on. End of conversation.
But what if they are? There are many people out there who need help, and just possibly it could be you who offers them a helping hand.
It is more likely that a truly depressed person will try to hide signs of being depressed, and will not say anything to anyone about their depression. There are signs to look for, but I am going to save that for another blog post.
The next time you are a little down, think twice. Don’t put the name depression to it just yet. Try some of the generic helpful suggestions, like exercise and taking positive actions like taking a relaxing walk in the park with your dog or your best friend. You may be sad or lightly depressed, and doing those actions listed above will take care of the problem.
Better yet, volunteer somewhere for an organization that helps people who do suffer from depression. What better way to help someone, help yourself, and understand depression.
“The greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.”— Tenzin Gyatso
If you think you are depressed, do not hide it, talk to someone and look for help.
As always, thank your for reading my blog. Be happy today!