If you’ve ever been down in the dumps, welcome to the club. We have all had times in our lives when we aren’t quite as cheerful as normal. However, if those feelings stick around for several weeks, it could be a sign of depression.
Depression is a common mental disorder experienced by over a quarter of a billion people across the world. A lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities or that persistent feeling of sadness is a mood disorder known as depression. It has also been known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder. This can affect how you think, how you feel, and how you behave; normal day-to-day activities may be difficult and can lead to emotional and even physical problems. Like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” you may not think life is worth living.
It is important to note that depression isn’t a weakness and wishing it away is not a solution. However, there is hope and most people with depression can feel much better by taking active steps and by visiting with our Behavioral Health team.
Symptoms of Depression
People who have depression typically have multiple episodes, though it could be a once-in-a-lifetime event. These signs of depression can occur nearly every day and may be for most of the day during these episodes:
- Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and emptiness
- Inability to sleep, restless sleep, or sleeping too much
- Difficulty remembering, thinking, concentrating
- Restlessness, agitation, and anxiety
- Frequent suicidal thoughts
- Physical problems for which there is no explanation
- Irritability or frustration over insignificant issues
- No interest or sense of pleasure in most normal activities
- Fixating on past failures and feelings of worthlessness
- Lack of energy and general feeling of being tired
- Weight loss or weight gain due to increased food cravings
- Speaking, thinking, or body movements are impaired
- Personality changes
- Unable to focus
These signs of depression are usually severe enough to impede daily life such as relationships, social activities, work, school, hobbies, etc. A pervasive feeling of being unhappy or miserable without understanding why can be associated with these symptoms.
Dealing with Depression
Most people who are experiencing depression tend to ignore the symptoms and deny they are having significant issues. However, it is important to see your physician or one of our mental health professionals as soon as possible. You may be prescribed an antidepressant and receive some psychotherapy, a solid combination over time for combatting depression. If not willing to come in to be seen, it is important to talk to someone you trust such as a pastor, any health care professional, a loved one, or a friend.
If you are in severe emotional turmoil, and think you may hurt yourself or attempt suicide, call 911. Another option is contacting a suicide and crisis hotline – call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or use the Lifeline Chat. Services are free and confidential.
Dealing with life can sometimes be daunting but developing coping skills and having a good social network can help deflate depression as well as ward off any future bouts. Managing depression is certainly about more than taking a pill, and these are some of the ways people can help themselves by engaging in healthy behaviors:
Exercise. Just sitting on the couch probably won’t get you where you want to go. Just moderate-intensity aerobic exercise can have a “large and significant antidepressant effect in people with depression” according to a 2016 study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. Even walking in the mall or around the block can be very helpful.
Healthy Diet. “You are what you eat” is probably not accurate, but what we eat is important. A healthy diet (such as Mediterranean) with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can be very beneficial for us all.
Sleep. Sleep has been described as the silent healer (not quite so true of those who snore). Most adults need seven hours or more of sleep each night, and children/teens need between eight and ten. Insomnia and sleep apnea can rob you of a good night’s sleep, and these sleep disorders need to be treated in association with depression.
Electronics. Shutting down electronics well before bedtime is important, as research has indicated a link between digital media (in particular) and depression. Referred to as “light at night,” it can suppress sleep signals, alter mood chemistry, and elevate stress hormones.
Socialization. If you think about it, solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment. So, it is important to connect with people (family members and friends) to feel connected and reduce isolation.
Other healthy behaviors may include developing a sense of purpose, utilizing relaxation techniques such as Yoga or meditation, enjoying the companionship of a pet or two, and exploring the great outdoors. Simply breathing in fresh air and basking in the sunshine can do you a world of good.
How Your think Team Can Help
If you are experiencing depression and anxiety symptoms that are serious enough to affect your daily routine, work, school, relationships or general health, it may be time to talk with your doctor or seek mental health assistance. Here at think, an appointment with one of our primary care providers is a good place to start. Your doctor will listen to your concerns, review your symptoms, and can also give a depression screening to assess how to best help you.
Your primary care physician may prescribe antidepressants and/or refer you to our licensed mental health professionals for care such as cognitive behavioral therapy. If you are facing a more serious depression or another critical mental health condition, your think physician may refer you to me.
All think healthcare professionals—from our physicians and behavioral health therapists to our clinical pharmacists and pain specialists—work together to help patients of all ages stay healthy and enjoy life to the fullest. Together we look at the physical and emotional side of helping you thrive.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DEPRESSION BY SPEAKING WITH YOUR THINK PHYSICIAN
Think Whole Person Healthcare makes it easy to receive both preventative care and treatment for a wide range of health conditions. From that continual sadness to that extra weight gain, our healthcare providers and specialists are committed to your lifelong health and well-being. Our walk-in clinic treats anyone, even those who are not a think patient or do not have a primary care provider currently. To learn more about our comprehensive healthcare services, visit our Services page online and choose your own think medical professionals by visiting our Meet Your Doctor page.
We help you stay healthy. Give us a call at 402.506.9000.