“I’ve had enough, I can’t take it anymore!”
“It’s useless, there is no point in going on!”
“I am hopeless, I give up!”
“I can’t cope anymore!”
“I can’t stand my life anymore!”
“My life is not worth living anymore!”
“What’s the point in living?”
If these feelings and thoughts of emptiness, despair and worthlessness are intense, prolonged and overwhelming that you find it difficult or even impossible to function normally and enjoy life like you once did; and you walk around sad and tired for most of the day and going through it is an ordeal, then you are “depressed”. You are suffering from depressive disorder or clinical depression.
How can you fight and overcome your depression?
The first step in effectively overcoming depression is to understand it. What is it, how does it affect you, what causes it?
Depression is an illness! It is the most common of all mental health problems. Researchers estimate that 17 million Americans, or even much more, suffer from depression at some point in their lives.
You are not alone!
It is not just a passing blue mood, or the normal pain and sadness that follows loss of a loved one, or the “downside” in life’s ordinary ups and downs. The feelings of emptiness, helplessness, worthlessness, hopelessness and despair are intense, unrelenting and pervasive to such an extent that these affects your the day-to-day life, affecting your ability to work, study, eat, and sleep.
Common signs and symptoms of depression can include:
Diminished or loss of interest in almost all daily activities. Friends, hobbies, sports social activities and sex don’t interest you like they used to. You have become numb to pleasure, joy and happiness.
Sleep disorder. You either cannot sleep (insomnia), or you wake up in the early hours of the morning, or you oversleep and struggle to get out of bed (you just like to bury your head under the pillow).
Concentration problem. You find it difficult to concentrate, focus and make decisions.
Loss or Decreased Energy. You are so fatigued, sluggish and feel like a zombie all the time. You drag yourself to work. Simple tasks become difficult and longer to accomplish.
Eating Disorder. Either you have lost your appetite to eat or you cannot stop eating. You become severely underweight or overweight.
Irritability. You have become very irritable and short-tempered.
Increased pains and aches. You always complain of headaches, back pain, muscle pain and stomach ache.
Thoughts that life is no longer worth living. You have lost all enthusiasm and zest for life.
Types of Depression
There are various types of depression. The most common are Major Depression and Dysthymic. Knowing the type of depression you have can help you effectively deal with it.
Major Depressive Disorder or Major Depression. This form of depression interferes with the person’s ability to function normally – to work, study, sleep, eat and enjoy pleasurable activities. It is disabling! The symptoms are persistent and can range from moderate to severe and if not treated can last for several months. It may occur only once in a person’s lifetime but more often, it is recurring and each occurrence tends to last longer and is more debilitating than the one before.
Dysthymic or Dysthymia (dys, meaning disorder and thymia, meaning mood). This type of depression is less severe. The chronic symptoms of dysthymia are not as strong as the symptoms of major depression but could last longer (two years or more). It does not seriously disable the person but could prevent him from functioning well or from feeling good.
The other types of depressive disorders are Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depressive Disorder and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Bipolar or Manic Depression is characterized by swing of moods – from one emotional pole (severe high or mania) to the opposite pole (severe low or depression). When in the manic mood, one may be hyperactive, overly talkative, feel abnormally elated and full of grandiose notions, have increased sexual desire, inappropriate social behavior and poor judgment.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) usually occurs during fall or winter, when natural sunlight is limited. The surroundings look gray and gloomy most of the time and some people get depressed.
Causes of Depression and Risk Factors
Why are you feeling depressed? What causes your depression?
There is no single cause of depression but rather, a combination of many factors – genetic, biochemical, environmental and psychological.
Depression may run in families – meaning it can be hereditary. Some people may inherit genes that make them susceptible to depression. The genes do not cause the depression but increase the risk when certain psychological and social factors come into play at the same time. The genetic tendency to depression can be triggered by some stressful life experience.
Studies indicate that depression may be caused by chemical imbalance in the brain. The human brain operates on fluids called neurotransmitters, some give energy (adrenalin) and some control body movements. The neurotransmitters associated with depression is called Serotonin which regulates mood, sleep, appetite, alertness among others. When a person is overly stressed for a period of time, the brain uses Serotonin faster than it can create and when the level of Serotonin drops, you become depressed. Other studies indicates that depression can also be caused by elevated stress hormone called Cortisol, and by other biological contributors.
These genetic and biological causes do play certain roles in depression but social and psychological factors have more enormous impact. The causes and risk factors for depression may include:
Stressful life experiences like sudden severe loss (of a loved one, job, friendship).
Marital or relationship problems
Health problems or chronic pain
Childhood trauma or abuse
Alcohol or drug abuse (including prescription medications)
Intense physical or mental trauma
Failing at some important task
Knowing and understanding the underlying cause (or causes) of your depression can help in overcoming the disorder. If your depression is caused by loneliness, you can socialize more – go out with friends. If it is your job that is depressing you, change to a more satisfying career. You can remedy your depression by changing your situation!
Treating and Overcoming Depression
There are many treatments for depression, including therapy, medication and other alternative treatments.
First and foremost is to recognize, acknowledge and accept your depressive disorder and deal with it squarely! Do not escape your depression by turning to alcohol or drugs. Your depression will worsen and you may find yourself six feet under the ground!
The standard prescribed antidepressants are not the cure. It has been proven that these prescription drugs have serious risks and side effects and cause more harm than good! Depression can be healed naturally and safely! There are also safe and all-natural alternatives to these commonly prescribed drugs, without the side effects or health risks. Their ingredients are all natural and no prescription is needed.
The best road to take in effectively treating and overcoming your depression is the one that addresses the underlying environmental and psychological factors that cause you to be depressed. Your whole person must be healed! These can include:
Develop a support system. Ask for help from your family and friends. Let them know your problem and how they can help you. Join and participate in support groups. Do not isolate yourself!
Go out and enjoy yourself. Talk to positive and cheerful people who make you laugh (avoid negative people). Visit old friends and reminisce happier times.
Exercise regularly and get adequate sleep.
Eat a well balanced diet and take vitamins regularly.
Change your surroundings (redecorate your room, make it more colorful),
Learn relaxation and meditation techniques. Take a break from your daily routine which could be monotonous and depressing. If possible, change it.
Get out of your bed in the morning and take a refreshing shower.
Last but not the least, pray!