Sadness is a part of being human, a natural reaction to painful circumstances. All of us will experience sadness at some point in our lives. Depression, however, is an illness with many more symptoms than an unhappy mood. Depression is one of the most common mood disorders. It causes persistent sadness and limits a person’s ability to go about their daily activities. Everything feels more challenging when you're dealing with depression. Going to work, socializing with friends, or even just getting out of bed can feel like a struggle. Lack of energy, low self-esteem, and dwindling excitement are some of the symptoms that make it hard to get out of a depressed state. Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to take the steps that will help you to feel better.
No one knows exactly what causes depression. It is clear that genetic factors are important in many cases of depression. About 30% of the predisposition for depression is due to genetic influences. Stressful life events play a part in the onset or relapse of depression such as financial difficulties, unemployment, childbirth, loneliness etc. When people are depressed, they usually have a very negative view of themselves and the world. Another possible cause of depression is physical illness or medications. Glandular fever, influenza, hepatitis, thyroid hormones, anaemia, diabetes, birth control pills or other medications such as those for heart or blood pressure conditions, may all cause symptoms of depression.
However, you can conquer your depression by treating mental health in the same way as physical health by working on it on an ongoing basis. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, you’ll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier and healthier.
Talk to someone: Talking is a powerful way of combating your depression. Reaching out to loved ones can help people get through difficult times. Simply talking about what is happening can help. Having a close friend or family member you can call up or visit with when feelings of anxiety or depression hit can help immensely. You can also seek the help of a professional therapist. Asking for help is a brave act and speaking to a therapist is a healthy, productive endeavour.
Do things you enjoy (or used to): The times you feel most like slumping on the couch are the moments you should force yourself to take a walk, cook a meal, or call a friend. Coping strategies that have worked for you in the past are a great place to start. Activities that help you calm down and that raise your spirits are important, even simple things like baking brownies, taking a bath, or listening to upbeat music. Even if your depression doesn’t lift immediately, you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities.
Get a handle on your household chores: Depression can make it difficult to complete household chores, such as doing the dishes or paying bills. But a pile of paperwork, the stack of dirty dishes, and floor covered in dirty clothes will only magnify your feelings of worthlessness.
Take control of your daily chores. Start small and work on one project at a time. Getting up and moving can help you start to feel better in itself.
Exercise: Even though exercise may be the last thing that many people feel like doing when they are going through a depressive episode, it can often be helpful. It's a physiological fact that activity fights depression. Physical activity can release endorphins that improve mood, and research indicates that exercise is effective in treating the symptoms of major depression. Even just getting out of the house for a walk, a game of catch with your kids, or a trip to the gym is a proven method of improving the way you feel.
Don't isolate yourself: Isolating yourself and spending too much time alone can cause depression and anxiety to take over. 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.
Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Hanging out with good friends goes a long way in lifting your spirits. Even the simple act of putting yourself in a social atmosphere can lift your spirits. Go to a place where there are people who may have similar interests as you, or even to a public spot like a museum, park, or mall, where you could enjoy being amongst people.
Eat a balanced diet: There is no magic diet that fixes depression. It's a good idea to watch what you eat, though. If depression tends to make you overeat, getting in control of your eating will help you feel better. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids (such as salmon and tuna) and folic acid (such as spinach and avocado) could help ease depression. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet can help prevent deficiencies and keep a person feeling physically well, which can support mental health.
Indulge in fun activities: Anything that makes you laugh or smile can actually help convince your brain you are happy. Play your favourite sitcom, watch a funny movie or read a comical writer. Enjoying some fresh air is a natural mood enhancer. Make it a point to spend at least 20-30 minutes outdoors at least 3 times a week, particularly when you are feeling down or depressed. Sometimes the mind just needs a break from the stresses of everyday life, and reading is the perfect escape. Relax and read some good books you love.
Keep a journal: Keeping a journal is a powerful strategy for fighting depression. Writing down thoughts, feelings, and problems can allow individuals to identify patterns, triggers, and warning signs relating to their depression. It can also give people perspective on particular issues and help them generate solutions.