5 Things You Can Start Doing Today to Stop Your Depression

5 Things You Can Start Doing Today to Stop Your Depression

People who have never experienced true depression may confuse it with garden variety sadness. They expect that people with depression will look a certain way – sad or dejected – and that they will act in certain ways – mopey or inert.

However, the truth is that depression can manifest itself in many different ways. It is just as likely to look like hyperactivity and energy as it is to look like sadness.

Estimates are that by 2020, depression will be second only to ischemic heart disease as the leading cause of disability worldwide

What is Depression?

depression manDepression is characterized by feelings of profound helplessness and hopelessness. It is more than just sadness. People who have depression often feel that there is no point to going on with their lives, or that their lives are meaningless. Severe depression can lead to suicidal thoughts. But how can you tell the difference between sadness and depression? Let’s start by taking a look at the symptoms of depression – if you have at least five of these symptoms at the same time, you most likely have depression:

  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much)
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • A depressed mood for most of the day, particularly in the morning
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Diminished pleasure in activities you normally enjoy
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Sudden weight gain or weight loss
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

In order for these symptoms to qualify as depression, they must persist on a daily basis for at least two weeks. It is normal to be sad in certain situations, such as upon the breakup of a relationship or the death of a loved one. However, if the symptoms persist and interfere with your daily life, it may indicate that you have depression.

How Common is Depression?

Because depression often doesn’t look the way we expect it to look, you might be surprised to learn how widespread it is:

  • One in every 33 children has depression
  • The rate is higher among adolescents, 1 in every 8
  • Estimates are that by 2020, depression will be second only to ischemic heart disease as the leading cause of disability worldwide
  • 8 million adults in the United States suffer from major depression
  • The risk of suicide is dramatically higher for people with major depression
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people between the ages of 10 and 24

Suicide is alarmingly common, and due to the stigma that still surrounds mental illness, it can often go untreated. When people fail to distinguish depression from sadness or moodiness, instead of being offered treatment they can end up getting a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” type speech. That type of talk may be useful for someone who’s just down in the dumps, but for a person with major depression it’s worse than useless – it might be dangerous too.

5 Things You Can Start Doing Today to Stop Your Depression

Like so many things in the human body, depression is part of a complex system of bodily functions. While some depression may be purely emotional, at times it can be caused or exacerbated by physical conditions in the body. When treating depression, it is important to consider all possible causes. While everyone’s depression is different, here are five things you can start doing today to help nip your depression in the bud.

Delicious portion of fresh salmon fillet with aromatic herbs,
Eat a healthy diet. There is some evidence that depression and other mental illnesses may have their roots in digestive problems and nutritional deficiencies. Some of the things you may want to consider are:

  • Eliminate inflammatory foods such as sugar, trans fats and monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Limit your intake of caffeine
  • Get enough DHA (found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, or taken as a supplement
  • Consider eliminating gluten – it causes inflammation in some people and is linked to a number of autoimmune disorders
  • Get enough of Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, iron, calcium and magnesium. It’s better to get these nutrients from whole foods if you can, but you can take supplements if necessary.
Businessman exercising in office
 Exercise isn’t just good for your body, it’s good for your brain, too. When you exercise, you trigger your brain to release mood-lifting chemicals known as endorphins. It can also relieve stress and boost self-esteem, which can help to improve your mood. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise a day – the form doesn’t matter, just do something you like to do.
Elderly couple having yoga at home
In a lot of ways, modern medicine is just now starting to catch up with what Eastern mystics have known for centuries. Meditation is a powerful healing tool that can actually help to reshape the brain. If you suffer from anxiety – which often goes hand in hand with depression – it can be difficult to quiet your mind. If meditating on your own is difficult, consider signing up for a class in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR.) Many local hospitals offer MBSR instruction and it can make a big difference in how you feel.
couple sitting in golf buggy on golf course, man driving
 Find ways to laugh. When you’re depressed, sometimes the last thing you want to do is to seek out company or find the humor in a situation. However, laughter really is the best medicine. People who are depressed often avoid social situations, but being around other people is healthy, and allowing yourself to laugh with them is even better. If you’re not up for company, think about watching your favorite comedy, or even seeking out some silly cat videos on YouTube. Laughter releases beta-endorphins and HGH (human growth hormone), both of which can help to boost your mood.
Successful Businessman Screaming While Using Computer
List accomplishments and joys. When you’re suffering from depression, it can be very easy to lose sight of the good things in your life. At those times, it’s a good idea to remind yourself of what those good things are. Even if you don’t quite believe them – that’s normal, if you have major depression – just the act of thinking about them or writing them down may give you a lift. It’s also important to celebrate your accomplishments. When you have depression, it can be difficult to get everyday tasks done. Giving yourself a pat on the back for a job well done can give your mood a lift.

Major depression is a serious issue, and people who have it may sometimes feel helpless to do anything about it. The thing to remember is that you do have a certain amount of control over your body – and you absolutely have control over your actions. Doing the five things listed above can help to move the dial away from depression.

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