The Basics Of Depression

Those who experience depression feel it differently. Depression ranges in intensity, duration, and result. While those suffering with depression may share common symptoms, the way depression may be felt is unique to the individual. One person may say depression is sadness. Another person may describe depression as a black cloud that feels stifling. Most people experience every day disappointment and low mood, but if the sadness becomes debilitating and interferes with the ability to manage daily life, it may be time to seek help.

The following statements reflect some common symptoms of depression:

  1. I feel hopeless and powerless to change my life.
  2. I feel exhausted all the time. I have no energy.
  3. My appetite has changed.
  4. I think negatively. My life will never get better.
  5. I cannot do anything right.
  6. I struggle to concentrate on work or other projects. Everything is too hard.
  7. I don’t enjoy social activities or favorite hobbies like I used to.
  8. I feel edgy, irritable, and/or angry.
  9. My body hurts and I don’t know why. I feel like I have the flu.
  10. I cry all the time for no obvious reason.

In previous articles, I have suggested that journaling may help develop a better understanding of your experience. Writing down recent events and your feelings about them may clarify your experience and help when seeking treatment. Earlier this week, I wrote about life’s constant change and transitions. Many of the life events mentioned can be triggers for depression. They may include, but are not limited to the following

  1. Divorce and/or significant relationship loss
  2. A chronic health condition
  3. Trauma or violence
  4. Financial problems
  5. Unexpected death of a loved one
  6. Loss of employment and/or career uncertainty

Since each individual’s experience of depression is different, basic information is important to share with your healthcare professional. Symptoms may vary depending on your age, gender, career, or caregiving status. For example, an older individual may spend more time alone than a teenager. And, social isolation may be one risk factor for depression.

In the article on Self-Care While You Are In Therapy, I highlighted several ways to support oneself. These lifestyle choices may be discussed or included as part of your treatment plan. Regular exercise, proper nutrition, healthy and supportive relationships and including more fun in your life may help reduce depressive symptoms. Additionally, working to improve sleep quality and lowering stress levels may be beneficial. If you choose to seek mental health treatment, your therapist may work to build a range of emotional and behavioral coping skills.

If you are experiencing several symptoms of depression, please see your licensed medical and/or mental health provider. There are many treatment options available and a therapist can help identify what may work best for you. Further, your medical professional can provide the assistance and referrals you may need to improve your situation. It is important to know you are not alone and that help is available.

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