how to get help for depression

What is Depression and How can I Treat It?

Millions of Americans suffer from some form of depression every year, making it one of the most common mental disorders in the country. Being depressed often feels like carrying a very heavy burden, but you are not alone in this struggle.

lonely-3923628__340.jpg

Depression is more than just feeling sad. Everyone feels upset or unmotivated from time to time. Prolonged feelings of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities, trouble sleeping, decreased or increased of appetited are all symptoms of a more mood disorder. If these symptoms persist for a period of at least two weeks, it is considered a depressive

According to a 2010 World Health Organization (WHO) report, depression accounted for 3.7% of all U.S. disability-adjusted life years and 8.3% of all U.S. years lived with disability.

Causes of Depression

There is no one cause for depression, as it depends on a unique combination of an individual’s genetic makeup and environmental conditions. There are many factors to take into account:

·         The brain’s physical structure or chemistry

·         History of depression in family

·         History of other disorder (SAD, Anxiety, Complex Trauma etc.)

·         Stressful, traumatic events (abuse, financial issues, death of a loved one)

·         Hormone changes (menstrual cycles, pregnancy, taking hormones)

·         Certain medications (sleeping aids, blood pressure medication)

Types of Depression

Depression types can take many forms. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders lists nine distinct types:

1.      Major Depression, is the most common type of depression. Often, people with major depression experience recurrent episodes throughout their lives.

people-1492052__340.jpg

2.      Dysthymia is a persistent low mood over a long period of time, even a year or more. It could be described as feeling like you’re living on autopilot.

3.      Some people are more sensitive to the lower amount of light in the wintertime. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression brought on from a lack of natural sunlight.

4.      Those with Atypical Depression often report feeling a heaviness in their limbs. They may suffer from irritability and relationship problems, as well as be prone to overeating and oversleeping.

5.      Bipolar Disorder is also called Manic Depressive Disorder because it involves alternating between mania and depressive episodes.

6.      Sometimes depressive episodes can get so severe that hallucinations or delusions are present, the person becomes catatonic, or they feel stuck in bed. This is known as Psychotic Depression.

7.      Postpartum Depression occurs after giving birth. Mothers may feel disconnected from their new baby or fear that they will hurt their child.

8.      Severe depression that shows up during the second half of the menstrual cycle is called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It affects the individual’s ability to function normally.

9.      Situational Depression is triggered by a life-changing event. It could be anything, from losing your job to the death of an immediate family member.

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Though there are multiple types of depression, many of them have similar recognizable symptoms. This list provides a general idea of what comprises depression:

·         Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, or emptiness

·         Irritability, frustration, or restlessness

·         Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that used to be enjoyable

borderline-997613__340.jpg

·         Difficulty sleeping, sleep disturbances, or sleeping too much

·         Fatigue and lack of energy

·         Difficulty thinking clearly, remembering, concentrating, or making decisions

·         Appetite or weight changes

·         Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

·         Physical symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or back pain

Experiencing some combination of these symptoms for a period of at least two weeks likely signifies that you are in the midst of a depressive episode.

Treatment

Any treatment for depression should coincide with a healthy diet and regular sleep schedule. It may sound simplistic, but the importance of taking care of your body cannot be overstated.

holidays-3038227__340.jpg

There are various methods you could use to sooth the symptoms of depression. Physical activity is especially helpful for the depressed mind. It enables you to better handle stress, helps you sleep better at night, and the endorphins released give you a mental boost.

Yoga is a more accessible form of exercise, because it doesn’t require equipment and because many of the moves and poses do not require much effort.

Meditation is a highly effective way of clearing your head and calming your body. It’s also easy to do, with guided meditations available through phone apps, online in text and videos, and in books.

If you enjoy keeping a journal, you may find that it helps to express your thoughts on paper instead of bottling them inside. It’s helpful to have close friends and family who you can confide in, but they’re not always available or may be dealing with stress of their own.

For a more hands-on approach, try a mental health experts to dive into learning healthy coping skills to help with the current mood and prevent relapse.

Sonila Sejdaras Psy.D, LCSW, CADC

What do I have Anxiety or Depression & How to Tell the Difference?

Depression and Anxiety are two different medical conditions, yet their symptoms, causes, and treatments can often overlap. People struggle sometimes to determine the difference between these two conditions. This is because many people with anxiety also develop depression and vice versa. Approximately 50% of people diagnosed with depression with also be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. However, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis in order to treat the correct conditions.

Many people with depression may experience what is known as “anxious distress” in addition to their low mood causing them to feel tense, restless, and have trouble concentrating because they worry so much. They are afraid that something bad is going to happen or that they might lose control of themselves. Below is a list of symptoms of depression:

 

Symptoms of Major Depression

·         depressed mood

·         lack of interest in enjoyable activities

·         increase or decrease in appetite

·         insomnia or hypersomnia

·         slowing of movement

·         lack of energy

·         feelings of guilt or worthlessness

·         trouble concentrating

·         suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

For a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, a person needs to have experienced five or more of these symptoms for at least two weeks. People experiencing some of these symptoms might also be diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or a depressive disorder due to another condition. They may also meet the criteria for bipolar disorder if they also experience symptoms of mania.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

·         excessive worry

·         restlessness

·         being easily fatigued

·         trouble concentrating

·         irritability

·         sleep disturbance

·         muscle tension.

people-1492052__340.jpg

If you’ve experienced these symptoms most days for more than six months, and they cause distress in your daily life, then you may receive a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. Other types of anxiety disorders include separation anxiety, panic disorder, or phobias, among others.

If you compare the two lists of symptoms, you can see that there is some overlap. Sleep problems, trouble concentrating, and fatigue are all symptoms of both anxiety and depression. Irritability may also manifest in forms of anxiety or depression (in place of low mood).

There are however, some distinguishing features. People with depression move slowly, and their reactions can seem flattened or dulled. People with anxiety tend to be more keyed up, as they struggle to manage their racing thoughts. Another distinguishing feature is the presence of fear about the future in people with anxiety. Depressed people who do not have anxiety are less likely to be fraught with worry about future events, as they are often resigned to believing that things will continue to be bad. In other words, they may predict the future based on how they feel in the moment.

It is important to remember to let a doctor or mental health professional evaluate you to see if your symptoms meet the criteria for a depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder.

 

How to Heal Yourself and Survive Depression?

How to Heal Yourself and Survive Depression?

Depression drains your energy, creates changes in sleep and eating pattern, and brings feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, making it difficult to see the goodness in self and others, and most importantly has people feeling they don’t belong. You can’t just “snap out of it,” but you can use resources and a wealth of information to gladden the mind even if your depression is stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and be kind to yourself. We hear people say “Be kind to yourself” quite often, yet most people see it as something external such as yoga, massage, grab lunch with a friend etc… While these options are good, self-care has to include self-compassion also known as “working from within.”  Increasing awareness and insight can also help to make healthier choices.

How do you deal with depression?

Dealing with depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed can be hard. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action. I recommend, finding some space to investigate your thoughts. Increase awareness on how you’re talking to yourself? Are you putting yourself down? Are you magnifying situations where you feel stuck and overlooking when life is going well? The work within is much harder than the exercise, chatting with a friend, or going to a yoga class. The thoughts are with you 24/7. If you can alter them for the better, the actions of doing will come easier than forcing them.

Reach out and stay connected

Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When you’re depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.

You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people, including yourself, and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help wouldn’t you want to help them too?

desperate-2293377__340.jpg

How to reach out for depression support

Look for support from people who make you feel safe and cared for. The person you talk to doesn’t have to be able to fix you; they just need to be a good listener—someone who’ll listen attentively and compassionately without being distracted or judging you.

Make face-time a priority. Phone calls, social media, and texting are great ways to stay in touch, but they don’t replace good old-fashioned in-person quality time. The simple act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can play a big role in relieving depression and keeping it away.

Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it. Often when you’re depressed, it feels more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will make you feel less depressed.

Research shows you get an even bigger mood boost from providing support to yourself. Be mindful of not holding on trying to control your experience because when we try to, we are not being present of living our lives. Letting go of ruminating thoughts might be a healthy sign of healing from depression.

Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Different From Depression?

Fall season brings some wonderful treats–apples, cider donuts, colorful foliage, football as well as shorter days, longer nights, and the advent of winter. During this time some might crave more carbs, feel fatigue, and sleep more than usual. These symptoms can also mean seasonal affective disorder or SAD.

umbrella-2603983__340.jpg

SAD is both similar to and different from other forms of depression. Many patients experience marked seasonal changes in the winter months. Although SAD symptoms are similar to depression, people experiencing these symptoms respond better and quicker to treatment then the ones suffering from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).

What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder?

People who suffer from SAD have many of the common signs of depression, including:

  • Sadness

  • Anxiety

  • Irritability

  • Loss of interest in usual activities

  • Withdrawal from social activities

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Extreme fatigue and lack of energy

  • A “leaden” sensation in the limbs

  • Increased need for sleep

  • Craving for carbohydrates, and weight gain.

Symptoms of summer SAD include:

  • Weight loss

  • Agitation and restlessness

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Decreased appetite

What causes seasonal affective disorder?

The exact cause of this condition is not known, but evidence strongly suggests that, for those who are vulnerable to it, SAD is set off by changes in the availability of sunlight. One theory is that with less exposure to sunlight, the internal biological clock that regulates mood, sleep, and hormones is shifted. Exposure to light may reset the biological clock.

Another theory is that brain chemicals (neurotransmitters, such as serotonin) that transmit information between nerves may be changed in people with SAD. It is believed that exposure to light can correct these imbalances.

Melatonin, a chemical known to affect sleep patterns, may also play a role in seasonal affective disorder. Some have suggested that the lack of sunlight stimulates the production of melatonin in some individuals. This may be a factor in the symptoms of sluggishness and sleepiness. The lack of daylight can suppress Melatonin, a hormone made in the pineal gland that regulates sleep-wake cycles, therefore people may experience more of the symptoms above.

How to treat SAD?

sad-2042536__340.jpg

Exposing oneself to extremely bright light of 10,000 lux for 20 to 30 minutes a day has proven effective in relieving the symptoms of SAD. You want to get a safe, reliable device that has been clinically tested and validated. Though the light is intense, you don’t look directly at it. It is great to read by it while it is on. Research indicates people with SAD respond in days to light therapy, where non-SAD patients need psychotherapy treatment for months and at times in conjunction with antidepressants before they see results.

Additional ways to help decrease SAD are: checking for vitamin D deficiency, eating fewer carbs, managing stress, getting enough exercise, and even considering an SSRI by a psychiatrist and then tapered off as spring approaches. SAD patients can respond well to talk therapy, it helps with understanding of the condition and learning healthy coping skills to manage the symptoms.