Mental Health 101: Depression (Part 2)
Depression is a health issue that more people than you think, suffer from, but we aren’t talking about it enough because most of us value our physical health more than our mental health. To learn more about depression, read part one of this blog series. Your body should be a temple, and you should take care of it as such and not only the exterior but also the interior. Talking about your mental health is key in destigmatizing them.
How is it diagnosed?
One has to have at least 5 of the above-mentioned symptoms every day or nearly every day for 2 weeks to be diagnosed with depression. Of course, this will vary from person to person, but your best bet is to visit your therapist, who is in the best position to help diagnose any mental illness and will be able to help you cope with it. If you think you have depression talk to your local care provider, who will refer you to a mental health professional.
So you should be aware that certain illnesses and medications can bring about certain depressive episodes. Some of them may be viruses or other diseases like thyroid disorder; your local medical provider might rule this out as a possibility during your visit.
Does depression look the same for everyone?
Sadness, the answer is no, there is no universal look for depression and the worst is that it can affect virtually anyone and signs change with age and age group. At the same time, some are more vocal than others. We all don’t face and deal with depression the same way.
- Children– signs of depression for kids might be anxiousness, crankiness and they might even pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school and even cling to their parents.
- Older children/teens– signs of depression for them might be that they get in trouble at school, sulk, are easily frustrated, have low self-esteem and are restless. They may also suffer from other types of disorders such as ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), eating disorders, and other substance use and abuse. Others are more likely to experience hypersomnia (excessive sleep) and hyperphagia ( increase in appetite). Girls also begin to experience depression more than their male counterparts during adolescence because of shifts in hormones, life cycle, and other biological factors unique to women.
- Young adults– signs of depression for them have increased irritability, hypersomnia, and a pessimistic worldview and of the future. This is often associated with other disorders like panic attack/disorder, anxiety, and social phobia.
- Middle-aged adults– signs of depression for this age group might decrease libido and sex drive, early morning awakening, depressive episodes, and middle of the night insomnia. According to studies, they may also suffer from gastrointestinal symptoms like constipation and diarrhea.
- Older adults– signs of depression may be sadness or grief and a lack of emotions. They may also have pre-existing conditions that may cause and contribute to their depression.
Can it be treated?
Yes, depression is highly treatable and if you visit your local practitioner, they will refer you to a mental health specialist who will be able to guide you through this process. You will more likely be given medications to treat and counteract your depression. The typical treatment for depression is psychotherapy or medications, or a combination of both. These treatments are meant to reduce the symptoms. Your therapist will help devise the best plan of action to treat your depression and, depending on the severity, will give you different types of treatments and doses of medication. However, you should be aware that it is not a one size fits all kind of situation, it may take some trial and errors to find the best treatment and medication for you because not everyone face and deal with their depressive episode the same way.
How to take care of myself?
Once you start your treatment, you will gradually begin to feel better, but during that time, you have to give yourself some slack because it’s not easy on anyone. Try doing things that you enjoy, do it even if you don’t feel like it because it can definitely improve your mood. Other ways to take care of yourself are:
- Avoid using alcohol or any sense inhibiting drugs because they won’t mix well with your treatment
- Eat regular healthy meals (don’t skip them)
- Do some physical activity- even a 30 minutes walk can boost your mood.
- Do what you can as you can- it’s not a race, take as much time as you need
- Try to maintain a regular sleeping time and wake-up at the same time every day (create a routine)
Tip from someone whose been through this
Remember, your life is precious, and if you ever think otherwise or are thinking of ending it all, there are suicide prevention lines out there that you can call for counseling. I know talking about your depression can be hard, but find that one confident who is always there for you and whom you can trust with your secrets. Having that one person could be a game-changer and if you have no one to turn to, then contact one of these lifelines 1-800-273-8255; if no one else told this today, I’m here to tell you that you are loved, you are worth it, and it gets better.
Sound off in the comments section below and tell us if you want to read more about this mental health series.