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It is very normal to experience emotional ups and downs during our life. We often refer to that as having “the blues”. But when it just won’t go away, you may have depression. Understanding the signs and treatment options is a good start to curing the problem.
With some illnesses the diagnosis will have a specific medical cause, making treatment straightforward and straight out of the text book. If you have diabetes, then you take insulin. If you have appendicitis, you will have to have surgery. But with depression, it is more complicated. Depression is not just the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, and it’s not simply cured with medication. Experts believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. So your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much, if not more, than genetics. However, certain risk factors make you more vulnerable to depression.
Finding the cause
- Lack of social support
- Recent stressful life experiences
- Family history of depression
- Marital or relationship problems
- Financial strain
- Early childhood trauma or abuse
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Health problems or chronic pain
When you understand the cause, you can prescribe the treatment and start to overcome the problem. Perhaps if you are depressed because of a dead end job, the best treatment might be finding a more satisfying career, not taking an antidepressant. If you are new to an area and feeling lonely and sad, finding new friends at work or through a hobby will probably give you more of a mood boost than going to therapy. In such cases, the depression is remedied by changing the situation.
But not all cases of depression are able to be overcome that easily. Just as the symptoms and causes of depression are different in different people, so are the ways to feel better. What works for one person might not work for another, and no one treatment is appropriate in all cases. You may need time to explore all the treatment options for a suffer because the result will vary accordingly. In most cases, the best approach involves a combination of social support, lifestyle changes, emotional skills building, and professional help. Feeling helpless and hopeless is a symptom of depression and not the reality of your situation.
For some sufferers, getting out of “the black hole” just seems impossible and panic may set in. For most cases, just talking about the depression and your emotions will aid in acknowledging the problem and finding a solution. Often it is preferred that you talk to a third party that is not emotionally invested in you. Being isolated and withdrawing from the world will only fuel the problem. Most people are happy to help you talk about a problem and will feel elated that you entrusted them.
Diet, sleep and exercise are positive attributes towards recovery. Learning to relax and stop stressing about the things you can’t control will help. But most of all, surround yourself with people that care, someone to share the burden, and reassurance that you will get through this and everything will be OK soon.
A combination of medication and therapy may be required to help you overcome the depression. Use the medication with your doctor’s supervision, but they aren’t necessarily a cure on their own and they come with drawbacks of their own. It might pay to weigh up the benefits v’s the risks and make your assessment then. You are recommended to seek professional assistance if medication alone cannot help.
Types of depression
- Dysthmia is a type of chronic “low-grade” depression. More days than not, you feel mildly or moderately depressed, although you may have brief periods of normal mood.
- Major depression is the darkest hole to fall into and can stay there for months at a time. Often it is reoccurring.
- Bipolar also known as manic depression, is characterised by cycling mood changes. Episodes of depression alternate with manic episodes, which can include impulsive behaviour, hyperactivity, rapid speech, and little to no sleep. Usually medications is not advised.
The main thing to remember, there is support available and you are not alone. Depression can be debilitating if left untreated but there a thousands of sufferers. You just have to reach out.