Did you know that depression affects more than 16 million Americans and is the leading cause of disability worldwide?
Most people have experienced depressive symptoms several times throughout their life, especially if they are going through a loss, or a significant disappointment in life.
If your symptoms of depression last more than a year it can lead to a depressive disorder. Preventing this is knowing what the symptoms are and how to manage them, so they don’t worsen.
Some common depressive symptoms include:
* Feeling sad or empty most of the day
* Low motivation to do daily activities and follow through with life goals
* Significant changes in appetite, resulting in a fluctuation of weight
* Significant changes in sleep patterns, oversleeping or unable to get
* Feeling unfocused, or a lack of purpose in life
* Frequent negative thoughts, causing fatigue or mental heaviness
* Feeling guilt or low self-worth
* Difficulty making decisions or feeling confident about your decisions
* Having thoughts of wanting to die or not wake up to your life
If these symptoms have persisted for more than two years, there could be underlying, unresolved experiences, or unhealthy habits that contributed to a depressive disorder.
These experiences and habits include:
* Unhealed abuse or trauma, such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or exposure to
violence, neglect and unsafe environments.
* Chemical imbalance, causing a reduction of neurotransmitters in the brain like serotonin and
* Genetic predisposition of family members having been diagnosed with major depression.
* Negative thinking habit, created by focusing on unpleasant scenarios, or unwanted outcomes most of
* Not participating in enjoyable activities or having something to look forward to.
* Keeping feelings inside and not allowing expression of emotions, inner thoughts and beliefs.
The good news is depression is treatable. Trauma and abuse can be healed. Negative thinking and habits can be changed by learning effective skills, receiving treatment and intentionally doing the work required to recover.
Some effective treatments for depression include:
* Mental health counseling, which can help correct negative and distorted thinking, and provide
treatment to help heal past abuse. Counseling also provides an outlet for feelings and a support
* Antidepressants can release more serotonin in the brain and help restore chemical balance.
* Exercising for a minimum of 30-45 minutes each day releases endorphins and burns stress hormones,
which promotes wellbeing and a better mood.
* Daily gratitude increases positive thinking and contentment, which counteracts negative thinking
* Eating a healthy diet of natural foods promotes chemical balance in the brain, as well as
counteracts fatigue in the body.
* Getting eight hours of sleep or uninterrupted rest everyday increases energy in the body, as well
as rebalances your physical and mental system.
* Daily mental thoughts that are loving and encouraging increases self-esteem and positive mood and
is necessary for healthy emotional development.
* Having a positive support system increases feeling connected to others and decreases isolation.
* Playing on a regular basis and giving yourself something to look forward to each day, makes life
more enjoyable and prevents growth of depression.
* Healing the past by forgiving others, and praying for God to bless those who wronged you helps stop
the growth of hurt, resentment and grudge holding in your being and opens a space for blessings
in your life.
* Forgiving yourself for all the mistakes you have made releases guilt and allows you to create more
fulfilling relationships that offer compassion and understanding.
The thoughts you choose to focus on, what you choose to hold onto from your past and the future you
are intentionally creating for yourself all play into your daily moods. Nobody I know wants to feel depressed. It goes against our natural state of well-being. What I do know from counseling thousands of clients is that practicing the above effective treatments for depression will decrease depressive symptoms and allow you to have a life with more joy.
Written by Elisabeth Davies, MC
Counselor and author of Good Things Emotional Healing Journal: Addiction
*Anxiety and Depression Association of America