December 4, 2023 Dec 04, 2023 8 min read
Have you been feeling very sad for weeks, months, or even years? Have you lost the ability to enjoy things and feel connected to people? Then you might be suffering from depression. You are not alone. The World Health Organization reports that up to 300 million people are experiencing depression and it is on the rise. But it is important to remember that millions of people have recovered from depression and gone on to live with more joy and success than before.
The first step is acknowledging how you feel and having the confidence that you can transform your state of mind. You are not your depression. It is not a character flaw to be depressed, and you shouldn’t blame or criticize yourself for it. The first step is to have compassion for yourself and being kind to yourself. Make a commitment to trying some ways that have been shown to help people improve their mood and become able to enjoy life. It may not happen right away, but with a hopeful attitude and belief, you can emerge from this state of mind, boost your energy, and reawaken your interests.
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Depression is a mood disorder characterized by intense and persistent sadness. It can range from mild to moderate to severe. Depression can make it hard to get motivated to take any action and creates a feeling of hopelessness and disconnection from other people and the world. When you are depressed, it can be hard to take care of yourself, to work, and to relate to people, including family and friends.
Every person has their own individual experience of depression, but there are symptoms that are very common. These include:
Loss of self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, intense self-criticism
Lack of motivation
No enjoyment or pleasure
Isolating yourself from other people
Flashbacks and repetitive, intrusive negative thoughts
Difficulty concentrating and paying attention
Weight changes – gaining or losing weight
Difficulty with sleep
Fear, anger, and not feeling safe
Anxiety and stress
If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, know that this can change, even if you have felt like this for a long time. You need some support and can take action to help yourself overcome these symptoms and rediscover yourself and joy in life.
Depression is usually caused by major losses or psychological injuries. The majority of people who have lived through trauma get depressed at some point in their lives. This can be from losing loved ones, undergoing the trauma of war as a soldier or a victim, and prolonged, chronic trauma in childhood that can take the form of physical, mental, emotional, or sexual abuse.
All of these can disrupt your sense of self and view of the world. Trauma creates
overwhelming stress that does not go away. It lasts in your body and mind, unresolved,
and can make you depressed and anxious in a way that interferes with your everyday
life. Trauma can make you shut down your life.
PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, is much more common than most people realize. It results from an extremely stressful event that is not processed in your mind and body when it happens.
Instead, it stays alive within you, making you feel as if you are reliving it over and over again. To avoid being triggered, you may isolate yourself and, as you start avoiding things and hiding from life, depression can follow. The more you are disconnected from people, the deeper the depression can become. We know that this is very common among veterans who have not been able to process the shocks they experienced in war and feel shame and guilt and depression that can be very severe. If you have had an extreme experience that has made you feel this way, it is important to reach out to others, to be understood, and to try to reconnect with life.
CPTSD, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, is a result of the chronic experience of overwhelming stress that you could not react to or end as happened. This is common among families and is often kept secret. The burden on the people who have been abused, often as children, who had no power to defend themselves and had to comply, leaves them carrying pain, guilt, and shame, and feeling threatened. This causes a combination of anxiety and depression.
Fear, long after the direct threat may have ended, remains, and unexpressed anger may be turned against the self, causing self-criticism and self-sabotage that disrupt relationships, self-expression, and being able to feel pleasure and succeed in life.
You can recover from depression. It does not have to be a way of life. It is a state of mind that can be tackled, reduced, and transformed. Depression affects both your thoughts, emotions, and body. To feel better, there is no one size fits all. You can find what works best for you. Most people find a combination of things to heal their depression.
Some people who suffer from depression have found relief from talk therapy and prescription medications and natural remedies. Talking may not seem enough, especially with trauma, since a lot of the feelings are embedded in your body and nervous system. But talking about what happened to you is important to build your awareness and understanding of your experience. This can help you stop thinking negative thoughts and forgive yourself for symptoms and reactions that you did not cause. Being understood can help you find relief and help you develop more realistic and positive thoughts about yourself and others.
Many studies have shown that exercise is a very powerful way to deal with depression. Negative thoughts, anxiety, and constant stress have an impact on your body, causing stress hormones that also affect your brain and mind. Exercise lowers your stress and allows you to feel happier and more relaxed. Just walking regularly can help relieve depression. Other forms of exercise, like yoga or tai chi, can help you with your concentration and attention, and help halt intrusive, repetitive thoughts.
Meditation and practicing mindfulness have also been shown to help with anxiety and depression. There are many opportunities to meditate, both online and in person. A daily practice, for only 20 or 30 minutes a day, can help you feel better and improve your ability to concentrate and focus.
It can be hard to rejoin the world if you have been isolating yourself. Some people who find it too difficult to join a support group or to reconnect have had success by beginning with pets or volunteering with animals. If you want to lift your depression, try to make a step toward connecting with others online or in person.
You may have given up doing things you love while you have been depressed. Reawakening your interest and enjoyment in life can start small by reconnecting with something you did before or trying something new. You may have forgotten or never connected with your personal strengths. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and becoming aware of your strengths may motivate you to get involved with a new pursuit. Try some free online aptitude tests that will remind you of your potential.
Depression is a painful state to be in. But it can end, and you can get excited and happy to be alive again. Depression is not who you are. It is a result of something that happened to you, and you can take action to recover and enjoy life.
Depression is a mood disorder that millions of people around the world experience. It is usually caused by a major loss or psychological injury. There are numerous symptoms of depression, including persistent sadness, hopelessness, a feeling of disconnection from other people, loneliness, self-criticism, repetitive negative thoughts, weight change, tiredness, and more.
People who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) are more likely to experience depression. Both involve having bad memories and flashbacks, nightmares, repetitive negative thoughts, and chronic worry and fear. People with PTSD or CPTSD are often triggered by reminders of their past experiences and re-experience their trauma as if it were happening in the present. PTSD usually results from a major event that causes overwhelming emotions. CPTSD stems from many events over time that take place in childhood and in long-term relationships.
There are numerous ways to overcome depression. Different approaches work for different people, and using a combination of approaches works most effectively. These include talk therapy, meditation and mindfulness, exercise (walking, running, aerobic exercise, yoga, tai chi, dance), medication, and natural remedies.
Social connection is very important for overcoming depression. Depression causes people to isolate themselves. Joining support groups and groups that focus on special interests can help lift depression. Taking steps to reignite your interests and trying new things with other people can lessen depression and revive excitement and positive feelings about life.
Susan Ellis studied psychology and anthropology at Barnard College and the University of Chicago. She has worked in many aspects of publishing, including editing and marketing scholarly journals, mainstream magazines, and books on psychology and psychoanalysis.
This journal is your companion on a transformative journey towards rediscovering joy and fostering a positive outlook on life. Whether in print or digitally, dedicate a specific time daily to engage with this tool, recording your thoughts and emotions. The structured sections, from rating your mood to crafting positive affirmations, provide insights into your mental state, empowering you to combat the weight of depression. The reflections offer tangible steps and lessons learned, to support your path of recovery.
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