Depression: Recognizing Unusual Symptoms
One reason depression can be hard to identify is that its signs can vary widely from person to person and sometimes be masked by atypical symptoms. For example, some people who are depressed may show it by acting disgruntled, resentful, or irritable. In fact, aggression including outright acts of violence can be indicative of hidden depression, according to a February 28, 2017, report in Psychiatric Times. Depression masquerading as anger may seem surprising at first, but not when you consider that several underlying factors, including alcohol or substance abuse and childhood trauma, have been linked to both.
Similarly, although its not clear why, a person who experiences anxiety is at high risk for developing depression, and vice versa. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that as many as 60 percent of people with anxiety will also have symptoms of depression the same goes for people with depression having . Experts say there is often a genetic predisposition for these co-occurring disorders.
Depression may also manifest psychosomatically, meaning that instead of presenting first and foremost as a mood disorder, the dominant symptom may be things like vague aches, dizziness, headaches, , or , according to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Complicating matters is that its often hard to know whether depression is causing the physical symptoms, or if the physical symptoms are causing depression.
Serotonin: The Feeling Of Calm
Sometimes bad moods and funks can happen when we feel listless, out of control, or overly emotional. This can come from being around a toxic person, or feeling overwhelmed with our schedule or work projects. Enter: serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that helps us feel balanced and contributes to our well-being or state of calm. Of the approximately 40 million brain cells, most are influenced either directly or indirectly by serotoninincluding those related to mood, sexual desire, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, and social behavior. Yup, when your serotonin is out of whack, it feels like everything is out of whack. Some research suggests that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression.
Serotonin Boost: One of the best ways to get your serotonin pumping naturally is the process of positive reminiscing. Simply reflecting on your past achievements or thinking about positive memories produces serotonin. Look through your photo albums on your phone or scroll through old Facebook pictures. At home, grab your journal and recall your happiest moments. You might notice after a few minutes your body desires a long, deep breath, and you begin feeling like Itll all be okay. When I tried this, I was shocked at how fast I began feeling more in control and calm. Thats the serotonin working its magic!
Lifestyle Changes For Depression
Lifestyle changes, such as making art, journaling, exercising more, and practicing yoga or mindfulness, can also alleviate depression and the stress that can heighten it. Alternative treatments like massage, acupuncture, and light therapy may also help.
Diet changes, too, can uplift your mood by reducing inflammation and helping to ensure your brain gets the nutrients it needs to function at its best.
One randomized controlled study, published October 9, 2019, in the journal PLoS One, found that self-reported symptoms of depression dropped significantly in just three weeks in young adults who changed from a highly processed, high-carbohydrate diet to a focused on vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, unsweetened dairy, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and the spices turmeric and cinnamon. In contrast, the depression scores didnt budge in a control group of people who didnt change their diet.
Don’t Miss: Why Do You Sleep So Much When Depressed
What Is Wrong With Me
A slump, rut, funk is a fairly short lived bad day or bad couple of days, says Brodsky.
Sometimes our slumps can be reactions to something that happened to us. Maybe youre feeling lonely in quarantine or youre upset because you were passed up for a promotion at work. Perhaps youre feeling like all of your friends are getting married while youre still single, or it could be that a toxic friendship is starting to take a toll on you.
Other times there doesnt seem to be anything specific that triggered the funk, which can be frustrating and confusing.
When you cant pinpoint or identify a reason for why youre feeling the way that you are, try talking to someone, says Brodsky. Often times getting an outsiders perspective can give you a better viewpoint of whats really going on.
Another way to help you work through a hard time is to show yourself some self-compassion. Consider talking to yourself as if you were a friend. Often times were harsh or inpatient with ourselves when were feeling sad or down, but if a friend came to us going through something similar, wed show them kindness and understanding. Wed assure our friend that everything is going to be OK and wed remind them that theyre a good person and that this wont last forever.
So go ahead and show yourself that same grace and gentleness.
Why Is Dealing With Depression So Difficult
Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to take the steps that will help you to feel better. 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.
Its the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something thats difficult and something thats impossible. While recovering from depression isnt quick or easy, you do have more control than you realizeeven if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should have enough to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one, for example.
Taking the first step is always the hardest. But going for a walk or getting up and dancing to your favorite music, for example, is something you can do right now. And it can substantially boost your mood and energy for several hourslong enough to put a second recovery step into action, such as preparing a mood-boosting meal or arranging to meet an old friend. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, youll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier, healthier, and more hopeful again.
Also Check: Free Online Support Groups For Depression
Information For Family Carers And Friends
You can get support if you are a carer, friend or family member of someone living with depression.
Being a carer might mean you can claim certain benefits that might help you and the person you care for. For more information, please see the Mental Health and Money Advice services website:www.mentalhealthandmoneyadvice.org/en/welfare-benefits/what-benefits-are-available-for-mental-health-carers/
You could also get in touch with carer support groups or sibling support groups. You can search for local groups in your area online or ask your GP.
You can ask your local authority for a carers assessment if you need more practical support to help care for someone.
As a carer you should be involved in decisions about care planning. There are rules about information sharing and confidentiality which may make it difficult for you to get all the information you need in some circumstances.
You can find out more information about:
How can I support the person that I care for?
You might find it easier to support someone with depression if you understand their symptoms, treatment and self-management skills. You can use this to support them to get help and stay well.
Below are some initial suggestions for providing practical day to day support to someone with depression.
You can find out more information about:
You can find more information about:
Connect With Friends And Family
This can be one of the hardest things to do when feeling depressed, but it is one of the most rewarding activities. Isolating oneself from others may seem like a good idea, but put a limit on it and then get out there again.
Confiding in friends and family members can have a huge positive effect on your mood.
Recommended Reading: What To Do When You Think You Are Depressed
You Cant Just Snap Out Of Depression
Well-meaning friends or family members may try to tell someone with depression to snap out of it, just be positive, or you can be happier if you just try harder. But depression is not a sign of a persons weakness or a character flaw. The truth is that most people who experience depression need treatment to get better.
If you are a friend or family member of a woman with depression, you can offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement. But never dismiss her feelings. Encourage her to talk to her health care provider, and remind her that, with time and treatment, she can feel better.
Add Greenery To Your Home Or Office
You may also find it helpful to add indoor plants to your home or office environment. Natural settings are associated with improved mental well-being, so it makes sense that “bringing the outdoors in” might help improve your mood.
Studies have shown that adding indoor plants to your home or office can help in a variety of ways, including:
- Improving the workplace: Research has shown that office spaces enhanced with indoor plants improve worker concentration and workplace satisfaction.
- Reducing stress levels: Another study found that actively interacting with indoor plans by caring for them can reduce both physiological and psychological stress.
- : Research has found that students who spent most of their time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic had better mental health if they were exposed to more green plants. While about a third of the participants reported symptoms of moderate depression, those exposed to more greenery had lower levels of depression and anxiety.
Choosing certain plants may provide additional benefits. For example, research suggests that the scent of a lavender plant can help people feel calmer and more relaxed. No matter what type of plants you choose, greenery can be a great way to beautify your surroundings and potentially improve your mood.
Read Also: Emory Treatment Resistant Depression Clinic
Avoid Feeding Your Depression
Feeding depression creates a snowball effect: For example, if you throw a few crumbs out on your balcony or sidewalk, a few pigeons will show up. If you keep throwing out crumbs, by the end of the week a multitude of pigeons will have flocked to the area. Similarly, depression thrives on doubts, fears, and negative thoughts which feeds more depression. Learn to identify the negative thoughts and worries that are fueling your depression so you can replace them with positive, more realistic thoughts.
Start Your Day By Doing Something That Makes You Feel Good
This relates to the previous tip. You do not have to start off just to get ready to go to work. Your job should NOT be the reason you wake up in the morning.
A while ago, when I experienced depression in the morning, I developed a new habit I biked to the lake every day and wrote a journal.
People dont even know how therapeutic writing can be. Every time I did it, I felt centered and balanced. Writing focused my thoughts and gave me clarity about many things. It also greatly lessened my morning depression until it vanished entirely.
Read Also: What Is Deep Brain Stimulation For Depression
Depression And Gender: Is It Different In Men And Women
When it comes to depression, there is a distinct gender gap. Depression is nearly twice as common in women as in men, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics. Hormonal and other biological factors play a role in this disparity. After all, only women can have premenstrual or postpartum depression. The same is true of antepartum depression which the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates affects one in seven women.
But women also have higher rates of seasonal affective disorder, depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder, and persistent depressive disorder, note Harvard Health experts. The reasons for this are cause for speculation. Some researchers believe that environmental factors, such as the different and expectations that society places on women, are an important factor. Others theorize that men and women actually have depression at similar rates, but that women are more likely to talk about their feelings and seek help.
Create A Morning Routine Worth Waking Up For
Many people myself included get stuck in a routine of dragging themselves out of bed to get to work and thats it. We barely have time for breakfast in our routine. Were just trying to get out the door.
But if you create a morning routine worth waking up for, you may have a different outlook for your morning.
Read Also: Why Do I Feel So Depressed In The Morning
Help Yourself Out Of Depression
Experts give advice about steps people can take to help ease their depression.
Recovery from depression can be a long process. A variety of treatments for depression exists, but they may take time before an effect is noticed. Weeks, if not months, may pass between the time when you see a health care provider about depression and when your mood starts to lift.
While some improvement may be seen after starting antidepressants, they can take at least three weeks to start having an effect on your mood. What’s more, the first medication or combination of medications you try may not work for you in that case you’ll have to start over.
In the meantime, there are things you can do, as well as things you can avoid, to help yourself feel better, or at least keep from sinking deeper into depression.
You are somewhat responsible — but not entirely responsible — for your state of mind, says psychologist James Aikens, PhD, an assistant professor of family medicine and psychiatry at the University of Michigan.
“You’re not responsible for being depressed. Your responsibility is to make some reasonable efforts towards feeling better,” he tells WebMD.
You Can Play A Role In Research By Joining A Clinical Trial
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. The goal of clinical trials is to determine if a new test or treatment works and is safe. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
In addition to volunteer research opportunities for the patient groups listed above, research opportunities for healthy volunteers are also available. Healthy volunteers play a critical role in our studies.
For more information about clinical research and how to find clinical trials being conducted around the country, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.
You May Like: Mixing Depressants With Alcohol Can Cause
Create A Wellness Toolbox
A wellness toolbox is a set of tools that you can use to help soothe yourself when you are feeling down.
The tools you find most helpful might not work for someone else so it’s important to carefully consider what things can help you feel your best.
Think of things you like to do when you’re happy. Then, when you’re feeling down, try one of those activities.
Cuddling your pet, listening to your favorite music, taking a warm bath, or reading a good book are just a few tools you might find helpful.
Create a list of the activities you might try when you’re feeling bad. Then, choose an activity to try when you’re having a particularly rough time.
Reach Out To Your Peopleespecially If You’re Feeling Lonely
Having a support network is key, especially if youre going through a difficult timeso consider this permission to invite your girlfriends over for even more wine and cheese .
Need some help expanding your social circle? “Do things outside the home that include other people, says Borten. For example, pick something that generally interests you, like a book club. Youll be surprised how quickly a community forms. And while its great to have friends IRL, even an online community can offer kindness and accountability. Try searching Facebook for groups that may be able to offer supportfor example, a bereavement/grieving support group. Or, search groups by interests to find like-minded people who can lift your spirits with a common passion. Just make sure the online group is a loving place, involving people with a common goal, says Borten.
Recommended Reading: Things To Do To Get Over Depression
What Is Focused Meditation
Meditation is the practice of becoming self-aware through breath and attention to connect the mind, body, and spirit.Meditation as a whole can change the structure and function of our brain. That being said, focused meditation or a guided meditation for focus is by far the best one. Meditation for focus and concentration can come in different forms. Experienced meditators use the following:
- Mindfulness this meditation involves us to be focusing on your breath and observing thoughts. This allows us to focus on our feelings without becoming too absorbed in them.
- Concentrative a meditation that gets us to focus on a particular point be it a word, breath, object, or a point in the space youre meditating. This is meant for us to pay attention to that point and prevent our minds from getting distracted.
- Moving this meditation involves gets us to focus on slow and repetitive movements similar to yoga or tai chi. The goal is again to be focusing on your breath while relaxing your body and mind with the movements.
Focused meditation, also known as concentrative meditation, is the practice of meditating and bringing your attention to one single object. This object can be something practical and tangible, such as a mandala painting or a candle flame. It can also be something abstract, such as a phrase or a sound .