Depression. What it is and how to deal with it.
Okay let’s get serious for a moment. And talk about depression, and a few things to help you get through the darker days.
Depression is a real problem in this world. I strongly believe that every single human knows what depression feels like. We have experienced it one way or another. Some of us for a single moment, and others for a very long period of time. If you search “Dealing with depression” on google, it gives more than 94 000 000 results.
Depression and anxiety is a common disease. The thing about a disease is that it can be cured. While depression and anxiety are different conditions, it’s not uncommon for them to occur at the same time. Over half of those who experience depression also experience symptoms of anxiety. In some cases, one can lead to the onset of the other.
Women are more likely to experience depression and anxiety during pregnancy and a year after birth.
South Africa has the 8th highest suicide rating in the world, with around 8 000 suicides per year. Around 230 people attempt suicide daily, at which 23 succeed.
Depression distorts your thinking, and it makes you selfish. When you are depressed it messes with your mind. It’s hard to think of people when you are battling your own mind.
Depression is not a choice, but people can choose how they deal with it. You can choose to deal with it, or you can ignore the fact that you have a problem, that will only make it worse.
How to deal with depression:
Here are a few tips to deal with depression. This isn’t necessarily the cure, but are things that can help you deal with it and gt a grip on how you are feeling. I struggled with depression for 2 years in 2007 and 2008 and again in 2013. These things helped me to cope, to get my wits together so I could fight the depression and get out the other side.
- The first step to dealing with depression is admitting that you have a problem. Symptoms of depression include tiredness, being unable to enjoy things you use to enjoy; consistently feeling sad; feeling like people are against you, or out to get you; Irregular eating habits; suicidal thoughts, or thinking about death. There are many other symptoms, so research it if you feel any of these mentioned symptoms.
- Exercise is the cheapest and most effective way to deal with depression. When you exercise you release endorphin, which is known as a “happy” hormone, that makes you feel better. For this reason many therapists prefer walking with their clients, rather than having a “couch” session.
- Try talking to someone about it, especially of you know someone who has suffered depression before but got out of it. Make sure you talk to someone that will be understanding and supportive.
- Make lifestyle changes. If it’s possible, identify the thing that is making you feel depressed, and change it in the best way possible. In 2007 I had to deal with something that happened to me, and I couldn’t change it. So I had to change the way I looked at it. I also found something that could replace the thought. So whenever I thought of what happened, I would think of something that happened to me that was great, like meeting my best friend, or an outing my mom and I had. I also thought of ways the experience could benefit my life, like helping people who it also happened to, or how strong and fearless it made me etc.
- Eat healthier. Our eating habits influences how we feel. So try eating cleaner and healthier. Reduce your sugar intake, and do research on foods that can make you feel better. Like 90% pure dark chocolate, is a healthy replacement for sweet treats, and cocoa also releases endorphin, that can make you feel better.
- Get a pet! This is where the title of my article comes in. In 2008 I was at an all time low, and in 2009 my parents bought me a puppy. A pug, and I named him Louis. And I can’t mention the countless times he helped me to feel better. A dog has a major impact on how we feel, because there is no way a dog can disappoint you, hurt you or make you feel inferior or sad. Pets offer a soothing presence. Louis also offered me unconditional love. As far as we know, pets are without opinions, critiques, and verdicts. Even if you smell like their poop, they will snuggle up next to you. In a Johns Hopkins Depression & Anxiety Bulletin, Karen Swartz, M.D. mentions a recent study where nursing home residents in St. Louis felt less lonely with some quiet time with a dog alone than a visit with both a dog and other residents.The study enrolled 37 nursing home residents who scored high on a loneliness scale and who were interested in receiving weekly half-hour visits from dogs. Half of the residents had quiet time alone with the pooches. The other half shared the dog with other nursing home residents. Both groups said they felt less lonely after the visit, but the decrease in loneliness was much more significant among the residents that had the dogs all to themselves. In other words, at times we prefer our four-legged friends to our mouthy pals because we can divulge our innermost thoughts and not be judged. (psychcentral.com)
Pets also alter our behavior. When you’re annoyed and really close to taking it out on a loved one, spend a few seconds with your dog. It’s likely that he or she will lick your face and wag their tale, and you’ll probably calm down.
Louis was also a distraction. Whenever I had Louis with me, his healing touch would affect me. Having contact with Louis, and being able to show love and affection towards him, made me feel better. Hugging floods our bodies with oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress, and lowers blood pressure and heart rates. And, according to a University of Virginia study, holding hands can reduce the stress-related activity in the hypothalamus region of the brain, part of our emotional center. The touch can actually stop certain regions of the brain from responding to threat clues. It’s not surprising, then, that stroking a dog or cat can lower blood pressure and heart rate and boost levels of serotonin and dopamine. (psychcentral.com)
The abovementioned factors might not heal your depression, but it had a major effect on how I felt during mine. It helped me to crawl out of the hole I was in. I am completely healed from depression, sometimes that familiar feeling creeps back into my life, but you have to grab hold of it and chuck it away the moment you start feeling the symptoms mentioned earlier.
Depression is a real thing, and we should never under any circumstances make fun of people who suffer from it. We should get them the help they need and offer them our support instead.
Louis was the only therapist I needed. And he saved me from my depression luckily long before I resorted to drugs or other things to help me escape the dark feeling I had.