Depression comes with a melancholy that includes negative thinking. Usually, depression comes after a stressful event, a loss, conflict that is unresolved and ongoing, or even just working too many hours in a dead-end job and losing sleep.
For some people, though, depression is a way of life. No matter which category you are in, there is help. Most depression sufferers – even those in the second group – do feel relief from symptoms when they employ cognitive behavioral therapies, medication, exercise, alternative therapies, or a combination of these.
All of us have experienced depression after a loss, a traumatic event, or an ongoing stressful situation. This is life. Triggers such as divorce, the death of a loved one, job loss and economic crisis, or non-ending relationship stress can lead to situational depression.
Depression from within often affects people who have none of those factors. This is endogenous depression. This type of depression is related to the biochemistry of the brain. Even though life is calm and productive, this type of depression takes over and hopeless thinking sets in. You adopt a negative view that colors every aspect of your life. Relationships and jobs are adversely impacted. You may have physical symptoms that seem unrelated to depression such as fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, weight gain, or aches and pains.
Not every down mood that we have is depression even if it does last for a few weeks. Being sad and being depressed are different states of mind. Depression is truly numbing and oppressive and can last for years. The damage created by this kind of depression – losses of marriages, friends, income, status – only fuels the existing problem.
Major depression can include:
- Loss of pleasure in formerly pleasurable activities
- Loss of ambition
- Poor concentration
- Loss of sexual desire
- Confused thinking
- Poor tolerance for frustration
- Poor appetite
- Low self esteem
- Suicidal thoughts
If you are unable to manage your symptoms, a mental health provider can guide you in finding relief. They will be your partner in healing and recovery from depression.
In the meantime, there are actions you can take to improve your mood and dispel hopeless thinking:
- Be mindful of your diet. Avoid alcohol and sugar.
- Go outdoors. Sunshine can physically improve your mood.
- Maintain friendships, family relationships and work relationships.
- Argue with your negative thinking.
- Learn meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or tapping.
- Resolve old conflicts.
- Be mindful of your downtime. Use it constructively.