Almost 15 million adults are depressed in America. That’s 6.7 percent of the adult population.
Depression is more common among women (although men may just not report depression.)
Many people are in denial about being depressed. Some people don’t know they are suffering from depression because it happens gradually. Many do not realize how debilitating this illness can become, it is important to keep an eye on your emotional state especially if you have family history or have suffered from it in the past. Without proper treatment and awareness this illness can become a serious health risk.
Depression affects a large amount of the population and chances are high that you or someone you love is dealing with depression. It is imperative that you understand depression in order know how to handle the disorder in yourself and others.
Most people have bad days and rough patches, what makes depression different is how long it lasts. It is highly recommended to keep track of your good and bad days on a calendar or in a journal. If by the end of two weeks, the bad days occur more than the good days it is apparent that the rain cloud has been present too long and it is time to seek help.
We are approaching winter bringing focus to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a major type of depression common to Americans during the winter, due to a lack of sunlight.
If someone shows signs of depression only during winter months, they most likely have SAD; Vitamin D or special lights that imitate the sun’s rays can be part of treatment and prevention plans.
The signs of depression:
n Feeling sad, helpless, pessimistic
n Sleeping issues, either too much or too little
n Appetite issues, eating too much or too little
n Desire to be alone
n Avoiding friends or loved ones
n Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed
n Having little or no energy or will power
n Lose focus and concentration easily
n Memory loss, especially in your daily routines
n Don’t want to get out of bed in the morning
If you are depressed, it is important to tell your partner and ask for help.
They need to know that you are seeking help for a real medical condition. They need to hear what you are feeling and what you are going through. By hiding your true feelings, your silence creates distance in relationships.
If your partner is showing signs of depression, remind them it won’t last forever and that you still love and desire them.
It may be difficult to understand what you’re partner is going through if they have depression. You may not be receiving any positive energy or happiness from them. They might lose motivation for sex or common interests that you built your relationship upon.
There is help available, but you may need to take the first step for them.
Treatment and coping options
Psychotherapy: Is an excellent source of treatment. A therapist can help you find the source of your sadness. It is also important to keep contact with loved ones and be social; a therapist can help you to develop and strengthen your social skills.
Socializing: Is one of the most difficult things to do when you are depressed. It is important to keep up on your relationships so that you aren’t left alone when you recover.
Breathing: Stress and anxiety can make symptoms more complicated to deal with. Eliminate added worry by breathing deeply and slowly. This sends a signal to your physical body that you are relaxed.
Visualization: Imagine a beautiful, serene, happy place in your mind and take a vacation from stress by staying in la-la land. It might seem weird at first, but it is easy and beneficial.
Write: If you have negative emotions that need to be released, write them down. You can write a poem or a letter and either save it or burn it, releasing the emotions.
Fun exercise: Most people don’t want to work out for various reasons. But exercising doesn’t have to be as daunting as going to a crowded gym. There are several ways to exercise without having to join a gym! Yoga, walking, swimming, tennis or hiking are all fun ways to get that physical exercise. The most important part is to choose something you enjoy doing.
Dogs: The feeling of having an animal around is comforting and known to relieve stress. The unconditional love of a dog heals emotional scars. Having a dog around when you are depressed will help to get you out of the house to take them for a walk. Taking care of them will give you a sense of accomplishment.
Energy: Especially needed when you are depressed but still keep busy schedules. Oxygen boosts can help your energy level. Try a five minute walk, jog or yoga techniques or breathing exercises.
Creativity: Putting your feelings outside of yourself through art or music helps release negative feelings in a healthy way. Sometimes seeing your creation helps you understand what you are actually feeling so you can heal. Creativity is for everyone, no matter your skill level.
Tell someone, life gets better
Pierce College has a free counselor on campus, Liz Scott, to support student needs.
“Feelings of depression are not always pathological,” says Scott.
It is natural to go into a self-reflective state in the winter, while the daylight hours are limited. However, our lifestyles require that we have lights around constantly, like going to the mall for Christmas shopping.
This interrupts our natural reflection process. The winter can be a time to work on our inner self and reflect, rather than specifically seeing depression as pathological or bad. But if its debilitating, interfering with your life or giving you suicidal thoughts, then you need to seek immediate help.
“An estimated, 70 percent of suicides have never been to see a counselor,” says Scott.
She strongly advises to take any suicidal comments seriously and tell somebody if you hear them. Scott is more than happy to share information on how you can help your friend or loved one. If you are depressed and need to talk, she is there for you.
“This may be the worst time your life, but life gets better, it will get better.” Scott says.
If you are unsure whether you are depressed or not, you can take a free confidential screening through the Pierce College website. From the home page go to Resources, select Support Services, then Counseling. Here you will find information, services, crisis phone numbers, coping techniques including videos for relaxing, stress management and several other informative links.
Encourage your loved one to take the test if they are in denial about their depression. You may even want to load the page for them because depression can destroy someone’s will power to seek help and socialize.
Remember, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and Liz Scott is there for you. Call directly at 253-840-8443 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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