{Mental Health Week} Depression

Depression is a silent killer. It affects people in the deepest parts of their soul, torturing and taunting the unlucky individuals to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion. The damage this disease causes is vast and powerful, and there’s no end in sight. Fortunately, there are many successful ways of managing depression, but those who don’t suffer from it can sometimes struggle to understand what it’s like for those of us who do. I’m going to talk about the facts, myths, and symptoms of depression to help dispel confusion and promote awareness. Depression: Myths, Facts, Symptoms, and ResourcesWhat is Depression? According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), depression is “a serious mental health condition that requires understanding, treatment and a good recovery plan.” Common Symptoms of Depression

  • Fatigue/Loss of Energy
  • Disrupted Sleep
  • Physical Symptoms (like chronic pain or digestive issues that are unresponsive to treatment)
  • Persistent Sad, Anxious, Irritable or “Empty” Mood
  • Sleeping Too Much or Too Little
  • Decreased Appetite and Weight Loss/Increased Appetite and Weight Gain
  • Loss of Pleasure/Interest in Activities Previously Enjoyed
  • Difficulty Concentrating, Remembering, or Memorizing
  • Sense of Guilt, Hoplessness, or Worthlessness
  • Thoughts of Suicide or Death

Causes of Depression There is no one thing that causes depression. It can occur on it’s own or be triggered by a traumatic event. Some situations that have been linked with depression are trauma of any kind, a person’s genetics, a change in life circumstances, a specific brain structure, other medical conditions that keep people from functioning normally, and those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse all seem to be more likely to suffer from depression. Who Depression Affects Men, women, seniors, children, teens, and those with gender identity issues or same sex attraction all can be affected by depression. Myths and Facts About Depression: Myth: Depression is not a real medical problem. Fact: Depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and can affect someone’s life the same way diabetes or heart disease would. Myth: People can “snap out” of depression by thinking more positively. Fact: Depression is not a sign of weakness or laziness, it’s a real medical problem. Myth: Only emotionally disturbed people become clinically depressed. Fact: Depression can affect anyone, no matter their age, race, or background, and stress and trauma often contribute to depression. Treating Depression There are many different ways and ideas of the best way to treat depression, but you only need to find the ones that work for you.

  • Medications, (such as anti-depressants or mood-stabalizers)
  • Light Therapy
  • Brain Stimulation Therapies (such as electroconvulsive therapy {ECT})
  • Physcotherapy (including behavioral and family-focued therapies)
  • Exercise
  • Self Management and Education
  • Alternative Therapies (such as meditation, acupuncture, spiritual rituals, or nutritional changes)

Getting Help

  • If you think you might be suffering from depression, take a free, anonymous mental health screening at Help Yourself, Help Others.
  • There is also a wonderful list of Recovery Resources here.
  • If you know someone who might be depressed but don’t know what to do for them, start by being a friend and listening to their problems. If you find out they are thinking about suicide, please call The Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-278-TALK (8255).

Depression doesn’t have to be a life sentence. There is help for those who struggle with it, as well as the friends and family members affected. By opening up about the difficult situation, we start to build a strong support system, which is a vital part of getting someone pointed in the right direction. No one should have to live through the misery of depression on their own. Let’s stand up together and talk about our challenges, as well as our strengths, and create a network of purpose, to help us support and uplift each other. We’d love to hear from you! Does depression affect your life in some way? How do you manage the difficult days? Let us know your best ideas for overcoming those small, daily battles!

Melanie Meditates2Melanie McKinnon is a wife, mother of 3 plus 1 in heaven, and a barre fitness instructor. She loves writing, Diet Pepsi, hugging her kids and dating her husband. On her blog, Melanie Meditates, you will find subscription box reviews, her experience with anxiety, depression and loss, stories about her life as a mother, and some tips for maintaining sanity. She hopes to encourage and inspire anyone fighting a daily battle. Like her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, connect on Instagram, and pin with her on Pinterest. Or email directly at hello{at}melaniemeditates{dot}com.

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