Rates of depression have sky-rocketed over the past several years and has become a major talking point in schools, among families, and popular content on Netflix and Hulu.
In many ways this is a good thing, we should be able to talk about depression and make it more approachable and less stigmatizing.
However, with most things that begin to circulate widely and made into media content, a lot of misinformation gets propagated leaving many individuals confused or even worse off than they were before.
Today, we are going to lay out exactly what depression is and how you can learn to recognize depression as well as gain a few insights into what you can do about it.
What exactly is depression?
Nearly everyone can recognize depression as feeling sad, but most people also realize there's something more to it than just feeling sad, after all, everyone on the planet feels sad sometimes.
So, although depression can involve feeling sad what really qualifies as depression?
to start with- time frame.
Someone suffering from depression has gone at least 2 consecutive weeks with a depressed mood, most of the day, every day (or nearly every day).
So depression is a depressed mood or loss of interest that lasts at least 2 consecutive weeks and impacts the person most of the day nearly everyday.
This begs the question, what does a depressed mood actually look like, how do you recognize depression?
A depressed mood and loss of interest in activities may seem obvious to pick up on, but in truth, most people are so preoccupied with their own lives that they don't recognize depression in their loved ones.
Inversely, people who experience these symptoms firsthand often convince themselves it's not that bad or that it will pass.
So, here are some ways to recognize how a depressed mood and loss of interest can manifest:
1) Significant increase or decrease in appetite
2) Diminished pleasure in all, or almost all activities
3) Irregular sleep (oversleeping or undersleeping)
4) Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
5) Indecisiveness or inability to concentrate, and
6) Recurrent thoughts about death and/or suicide
These 6 signs are the most common signifiers that someone is struggling with depression.
And remember, it's these signs combined with the time frame of 2 consecutive weeks.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts please contact suicide prevention services at 9-8-8, or if you find yourself in an emergency call 9-1-1.
First and foremost, if you are experiencing these symptoms, or someone you know is, don't hesitate to reach out for help.
Visit https://www.sprc.org/ for any number of resources and information, and talk to a mental health specialist or your primary care doctor.
The sooner, the better.
There are also a number of things you can start doing right now that will help improve your mood:
1) Journaling has been proven to reduce feelings of sadness and is one of the best tools for self-help
2) Breathing meditation for 10-minutes a day not only regulates blood pressure but improves focus and develops presence of mind which clinically reduces depressive symptoms
3) Physical movement and exercise release dopamine which improves motivation, and goal orientation and is a feel-good neurochemical that acts as a reward system
4) 15-minutes of sunlight every day boosts vitamin D which is a known mood enhancer and is vital to your immune system
5) Nutrition has recently received an enormous amount of scientific attention for how effectively a healthy diet impacts your mental well-being; clean proteins, healthy fats, and regular servings of fruit decrease inflammation which is a major contributor to mental health.
If you can recognize depression then you can start taking action immediately.
You know now that depression is a period of at least 2 consecutive weeks of daily inability to feel good or take interest in activities.
You can recognize depression by paying attention to changes in appetite, sleep, interest levels, thoughts of death and/or suicide, as well as feelings of excessive guilt and worthlessness.
If you are someone you know is experiencing these symptoms don't hesitate, to contact a mental health professional, primary care, or in an emergency call 9-1-1.
9-8-8 is the new national suicide and crisis hotline and has an incredible amount of helpful information and resources.
Now that you can recognize depression, you can take action!
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It is my primary goal as a counselor to create a space for every individual to explore their lives and find the opportunities that may be lurking where it is most difficult to look. Through a unique therapeutic approach that combines Jungian symbology/dream-work with Narrative and Existential explorations, I will help you re-discover who you are. It is my mission to help you navigate life transitions, depression, anxiety, faith-based and spiritual concerns, as well as how to re-establish a connection with what is most important to you.
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