Depression can sneak up on you!

Depression can be insidious. What can start as a normal reaction to life’s events has a way of turning into ongoing depression. It is a matter of degrees and the length of time the feelings persist.

What is depression?

It is a pervasive unhappiness, a loss of pleasure or interest in your usual activities. It can cause a marked increase or decrease in appetite. Sleep patterns change. Insomnia is quite common resulting in a being tired all the time. This increases the depressed mood. As with eating, some people experience the opposite, unable to get out of bed.

Depressive symptoms also include a decrease in energy, movement and slowing of speech and activity. There is a general feeling of exhaustion and being overwhelmed.
Emotionally and mentally they may feel worthless and free floating guilt. The feelings of inadequacy can color past memories and experiences and make one see evidence all around them of others superiority and feel they are the cause of many problems.
Thinking becomes slower with difficulties concentrating and remembering. Thoughts of suicide or death can begin to enter the mind.

Since depression often starts slowly, it is not obvious that it is present. As the symptoms described above start and get worse, the self-evaluation becomes worse. It begins to feel like there is truly something “wrong” with you, not in the physical sense but in the “I am less than everyone else”. This is the process that begins to deepen the depression.
Just as depression can gradually get worse, it can gradually get better. The nature of depression causes people to decrease the things that help prevent depression: connecting with people, exercising, limiting depressive substances such as alcohol and not doing the things you know you should and would feel a sense of accomplishment.

What can you do?

First, consult these 2 websites to understand depression and determine if that may be what you are suffering from. Some caution. Remember, some events in your life, such as a death, divorce, loss of friendships or jobs, among many, can cause a very blue mood. It is how long it lasts and whether the mood is deepening verses gradually being relieved. We can learn much from our life experiences. Getting down sometimes is a very normal part of living. Also, remember to have your thyroid checked. This should include testing for T3 & T4, not just the standard TSH test. For middle-aged men and women, this is often the cause.

Next, find a counselor unless your depression is severe or debilitating. With counseling and some life changes, you might be able to spiral out of depression. If during counseling, all the best intentions are too difficult to do, anti-depressants can kick start the road to healing. Very often after the depression has lifted, the anti-depressants can be discontinued. Additionally, different medications work differently for different people. Sometimes they can cause a worsening of the symptoms and having someone observing you over time is important.
The things that research show to improve the mood is exercising, eating right, and doing things that would have previously made you feel good. These might be being with friends, doing charity work, working, connecting with your spiritual beliefs. There is real truth to the adage “Fake it till you make it”.

A word of note is the differences in men and women’s experiences in depression. Men’s depression can manifest itself as more anger and agitation yet the underlying feelings of feeling worthless, unhappiness, not being motivated to do anything etc. are the same.

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