Most of us don’t have any problem telling friends or work colleagues that we’ve got back pain or a nasty cold. However, when it comes to mental health, we tend to be much more reluctant to be open. There have been major improvements in recent years. But there is still a stigma attached to psychological illnesses. One way to beat this is to encourage people to talk about mental health more. If you struggle with conditions like anxiety, stress or depression, don’t suffer in silence. This guide will provide in-depth information about depression. Hopefully, it will help you to learn more about causes, symptoms and treatment options.
What exactly is depression?
Depression is a poorly understood term. You often hear people saying that life is depressing or joking that they feel depressed today. However, depression is a serious illness. We use the word depression a lot, and this may detract from its true meaning. Being depressed isn’t about watching a sad film and bursting into tears. It’s a state of mind that can be incredibly difficult to shift.
Depression affects people in different ways, and there are varying levels of severity. In the most extreme cases, it can make you feel profoundly low, and even drive you to experience suicidal thoughts. There is an assumption that you can simply shake off depression or just get back to normal. But this isn’t the case. Most people with depression experience symptoms over a prolonged period of time. They often require long-term treatment.
Depression is increasingly prevalent. Figures suggest that depression affects more than 15 million Americans.
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The most common causes of depression
There are many different factors that may contribute to depression. Often, life events have a role to play. Loss and bereavement are one of the most common causes of depression. When you lose somebody close to you, you can develop emotions that are so deep that they almost feel like a physical pain. You feel incredibly sad. But you can also become anxious about the future. When you’re feeling low, you’re also more vulnerable. This means that if other things happen, you may not be strong enough to cope. Before you know it, your depression has spiraled, and it’s taken over.
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Relationship troubles are another common cause of stress and depression. You may be with somebody you don’t trust, or that doesn’t treat you well. You might spend all your time arguing. Or you may be going through a breakup. When you’ve spent time with somebody and it all comes crashing down, it can be very tough to cope. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, the scars, both physical and mental, can last for years. If you’re going through divorce, you may be worried about the outcome and scared about facing life alone.
Unemployment can hit you hard, especially if you’ve got bills to pay or you’ve lost your job out of the blue. Getting up for work each day gives you a sense of purpose, and gets you out of the house. If you lose your job, you may lose your pride as well as your monthly salary. Loss of employment can contribute to money worries, another common cause of depression and anxiety. If you’ve got rent or a mortgage to pay or children to feed, not having an income can soon have a devastating impact. If you’re in debt, or you’ve got people chasing you for money, this can also affect your mental wellbeing.
If you do have a job, you may find that work plays a part. Many people suffer from stress as a result of their jobs. Stress is a common risk factor for depression. It can often get out of control, and you may simply feel like you can’t cope anymore. Have you been working long hours? Have you got deadlines approaching? Or have you had troubles with colleagues? If so, this can increase the risk of depression.
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Your physical health can also have an impact on your mental health. If you’re ill or you’ve been injured, this can put you at risk of depression. Long-term illness or injury can affect your ability to work and socialize. It may also have consequences for your finances. Depression is particularly common in people with terminal or life-limiting illnesses.
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How do you know if you’re depressed?
Many people think that depression constitutes feeling sad for a few days. But this is wrong. Depression is an illness that causes both physical and mental symptoms. Most commonly, it is characterized by prolonged periods of feeling low and lacking motivation. If you’re depressed, your self-esteem may be low, and you may also feel helpless and worthless. Depression is often linked to anxiety, and you may be restless and irritable. Often, depression also affects your ability to sleep. This can result in low energy levels and a lack of concentration. You may also find that you get headaches and your appetite either increases or decreases. Depression can also cause aches and pains. If you’re depressed, you may also shy away from social interaction and become increasingly withdrawn.
We all have days when we feel down. But if you have more down days than you do days when you feel normal or upbeat, seek advice.
What can be done for depression?
There are lots of different treatments and therapies that are recommended for people with depression. Often, getting to the bottom of the cause can be hugely beneficial. When you see a doctor about depression, they will ask you a series of questions. This will enable them to determine the severity of the condition and identify possible causes.
Tackling the root cause
Often, there are steps you can take to tackle depression that don’t involve medical expertise. This is often the case when you have problems, such as money worries, pressure at work or relationship troubles. If you’re going through divorce, seek advice from a family lawyer as soon as possible. A legal team will handle the practicalities and legal processes, and this will take a lot of stress off your shoulders. If you’ve got money worries, try and tackle them head-on. It can be incredibly daunting to be open and honest about debts. But the sooner you try and resolve the situation, the better. If you are in debt, arrange to see a financial adviser. There are paths you can take to try and make life easier. You could consider taking out a debt consolidation loan, for example. If you’re having difficulty at work, speak to your boss. They may be completely unaware that you’ve been finding life tough. You may be able to get help with your workload, take time off, or make changes to your schedule going forward.
If you’re unemployed, there are people and organization out there that can help you to find a new job. Register with recruitment agencies, and upload your CV to job sites. In the meantime, while you’re searching for work, find out about state support. If you lose your job, this can affect your self-confidence and affect your mood. Are you angry? Do you feel like you’re letting people down? If so, it may be worthwhile seeing a therapist. It’s best to try and deal with emotions, rather than bottling them up.
Often, depression can occur following the loss of a loved one. In this case, psychological therapies may be beneficial. Losing somebody you loved is perhaps the most difficult thing you’ll ever go through in life. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that you’ll never see them again, and you may experience a range of emotions. You’ll feel sad. But you may also feel frustrated and angry. You might also feel lost and lonely. Bereavement can leave a hole, and you may worry about how you’ll fill it. Talking about your feelings can be therapeutic, and counseling is often a very effective treatment. Counselors are trained to listen and provide advice. You can say whatever you want to a counselor, and many people find it easier to be open in this setting than to talk to somebody they know.
Doctors often recommend a combination of therapies to treat depression. This usually includes medication, talking therapies, and self-help tips. Medication can help to reduce anxiety and lift your mood. It can also help to address physical symptoms, such as disturbed sleep patterns. Self-help techniques, such as exercise, often ease symptoms. If you have depression, your doctor will assess your needs and then determine the best course of action.
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Depression is a word that gets bandied around in modern society. The reality is that depression is a serious psychological condition. If you have depression, or you know people who struggle with the illness, you should be able to talk about it. The more open we are about depression, the higher the chances people will seek the help they need. If you’re worried about mental health disorders, don’t hesitate to see your doctor. There are effective solutions and treatments out there, and lots of people that are there to support and advise you.