Coping with Depression
Everyone has experienced feelings of depression at one time or another. These feelings commonly follow loss or disappointment and they usually pass in a few hours or days. When depressive feelings, however, persist and interfere with one's health and social well-being, then some sort of intervention or professional help is needed.
What is Depression?
Depression is a prolonged and persistent negative mood which can color and interfere with many aspects of one's life. It is characterized by feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, loneliness, sadness, hopelessness, and self-doubt. Suicidal thoughts may also be present. Normal everyday depression can last for a few minutes to a few days. We've all felt these periods of being "down" or "sad." These feelings are a normal part of being human. On the other hand, depression that becomes intense and lasts for extended periods of time may be a dysfunctional form of depression, something beyond the "everyday sort." This more serious type of depression can often be helped by seeing a mental health specialist.
What Causes People to be Depressed?
- Significant loss.
- Loss of control over the environment. The person feels that nothing can be done to change unfortunate events in life.
- Unrealistic expectations.
- Perceived failure.
- Negative thinking which gradually becomes self-defeating.
Symptoms of Depression
- Emotional Symptoms
- Mood swings.
- Physical Symptoms
- Sleeping too much or too little.
- Overeating or loss of appetite.
- Weight loss or gain.
- Irregular menstrual cycle.
- Gradual loss of sexual desire.
- Behavioral Symptoms
- Crying for no apparent reason.
- Withdrawal from other people and new situations.
- Getting angry easily.
- Being unmotivated to set or meet goals.
- Loss of interest in one's physical appearance.
- Loss of interest in activities which were once of interest.
- Turning to drugs or alcohol.
- Thoughts/Perceptions which may become Self-Defeating
- Feelings of being a failure.
- Criticizing oneself frequently.
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
- Blaming oneself for unfortunate happenings.
- Being pessimistic about the future.
How to Overcome Depression & Regain a Positive Outlook
- Be aware of the cause of your depression and try to be optimistic about the future.
- Try to be aware of your negative thoughts and replace them with positive ideas.
- Focus on your positive experiences.
- Make a weekly list of your positive accomplishments.
- Get socially active.
- Make a weekly schedule of your daily activities and do not forget to include social activities.
- Find a hobby or two.
- Exercise daily.
- Use self-relaxation techniques whenever you feel tense. For example, slowly breathe in and out for several minutes until your whole body feels relaxed.
- Do some volunteer work to keep you active.
- Set realistic goals.
- Learn to accept that everyone has different abilities and focus on your unique characteristics and positive accomplishments.
- Be assertive when you are expressing anger.
- Try to know and develop your strengths.
- Get professional help if symptoms of depression persist.
How to Help a Depressed Person
- Do not tell a depressed person that you know what he/she is feeling. This may make the person become angry with you.
- Be supportive and patient.
- Let the person know that you are concerned and that you will be there for him/her.
- Encourage the person to seek professional help if symptoms are persistent and seem to interfere with activities for daily living.
Help! Where to find it.
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