by Ambreen Nadeem Ambreen is an Industrial Psychologist , she advocates for mental health and spreads the knowledge of Psychology and Mental Health through her podcasts, live shows, workshops, and blogs.
Sarah is a middle-aged marketing manager at a highly reputable organization. She has been doing a great job managing work and family life, yet she felt empty from the inside. She missed one of the major targets on her job, which triggered a major episode of depression. The failure to meet the deadlines triggered a major depressive episode.
After six months, she was brought to the emergency room by her husband. She was extremely depressed and had continuous thoughts about committing suicide. She lost interest in all activities. She felt fatigued most of the time. She started avoiding socializing with her friends. She had lost 14 pounds without dieting because she did not feel like eating.
Sarah was diagnosed with major depression, as she had all symptoms present for more than two weeks. According to DSM V, a person can only be diagnosed with major depression when a person has a depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, weight loss, insomnia, restlessness, loss of energy, extreme guilt, trouble staying focused, and thoughts of suicide continuously for at least two weeks.
Depression can be triggered by any event or anything that could be significant or insignificant. For instance, in the case of Sarah, she only failed to deliver a project timely. For many people, that would not have been a significant issue to trigger suicidal thoughts, but for Sarah, that failure triggered the emotional trauma from the past and brought back the pains of past failures. She started doubting her self-worth. Her inner critic became too harsh that it rejected her and punished her critically. Depression is a silent killer, which leads to suicide.
Therefore, it is imperative to seek help at the right time. Let’s deep dive and find out what depression is and the main reasons and symptoms of depression.
What is Depression?
Depression is a mood disorder. It is often described as a feeling of extreme sadness, loss of interest in regular activities that affect daily activities. All of us feel sad at specific points in time in life, but depression is the feeling of sadness that does not go away. It is not only a bout of sadness that you may feel when you wake up from the wrong side of your bed. Depression is more than just moody blues.
When a person suffers from depression, it hampers their ability to carry out their normal routine tasks. It is natural to feel sad when we lose our loved ones or lose a job or anything that is dear to us. When you feel sad, you feel down for a day or so. When you feel sad, you may enjoy simple pleasures of life, such as going on a walk or listening to your favorite tune will still amuse you.
On the other hand, this is not the case with depression. The person suffering from depression will not find any joy in activities that once were amusing. They would feel sad and hopeless about almost everything. Sometimes, depression goes unnoticed, and the person suffering from it sinks deeper and deeper. It is essential to recognize it earlier and treat it as early as possible.
Symptoms of Depression
According to DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the following are the criteria to diagnose depression.
The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period, and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.
1. Depressed mood most of the time.
2. Significant loss of interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities.
3. Substantial weight loss without dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite without any apparent reason.
4. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
5. Experiencing fatigue or loss of energy throughout.
6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt.
7. Inability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness.
8. Continuous recurring thoughts of death, or suicidal thoughts with or without a specific plan.
Recently DSM 5 added two more features.
9. If there are mixed symptoms, then the consultant needs to look for the presence of manic episodes.
10. If the person is suffering from Anxious Distress – In the presence of anxiety in patients’ clinicians will need to assess whether or not the individual experiencing depression also presents with anxious distress.
How to Deal with Depression
Dealing with depression is not easy because depression is like a bottomless pit. Once you get into it, you keep going down and down. Depression drains the energy and takes away the willingness to carry out a small task that may help in relieving the depression. There is no magic potion to cure depression. You have to gather strength to come out of it.
Taking the first step is always the most challenging one. The key to dealing with depression is starting from small and building from there. You have to make an effort to come out of it gradually.
Here are some self-help tips for dealing with depression
Stay in touch
When we are feeling depressed, we tend to lose interest in everything, which leads us to withdraw from everything, and in the end, we are left alone, suffering in silence. The most important step you can take in dealing with depression is to make an effort to stay in touch with your friends and loved ones.
Don't withdraw from life. Socialising can improve your mood. Keeping in touch with friends and family means you have someone to talk to when you feel low.
Be more active
Feeling tired and fatigued all the time is one of the key symptoms of depression. Do not let that sink in. Take up some form of exercise.
There's evidence that exercise can help lift your mood. If you haven't exercised for a while, start gently by walking for 20 minutes every day.
Face your fears
Depression makes our fears bigger than they actually are. These fears stop us from taking a single step to share with others. Don't avoid the things you find difficult. When people feel low or anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to other people. Some people can lose their confidence in going out, driving, or traveling.
If this starts to happen, facing up to these situations will help them become easier. Gather courage to face your fears. These fears are merely an illusion. You can overcome them easily only when you face them.
Try to eat a healthy diet
Some people don't feel like eating when they're depressed and are at risk of losing weight, while others find comfort in food and can put on excess weight. Gaining weight or losing weight both are unhealthy. It can negatively affect self-image that deteriorates self-confidence. Eat healthy!
Have a routine
When people feel down, they can get into poor sleep patterns, staying up late and sleeping during the day. Try to get up at your normal time and stick to your routine as much as possible. Not having a routine can affect your eating. Try to carry on cooking and eating regular meals.
It is extremely important to get support to come out from depression. Get help if you're still feeling down or depressed after a couple of weeks. If you can not find support from your immediate circle of friends, consult with a professional.
Depression can seep in just by a simple reaction to life.
A reaction to a life that you never imagined would be yours. A reaction to unfairness or injustices in life. It is a deep sadness or regret that grips your mind completely. It can happen at any time to anyone. Just do not let it take over your life. Never be afraid to seek help. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Instead, it is a sign of strength. It means that you want to improvise on your shortcomings. Do not suffer in silence. Kill depression before it kills YOU.
Ambreen Nadeem is an Industrial Psychologist with more than 15+ years of experience in Marketing Research. She has diverse experience in Market Research Analyses, Client Relationships, Project Management, and Leadership in top multinational companies, both at the agency and client-side. She has been managing major projects for blue-chip clients in Saudi Arabia.
Moreover, she advocates for mental health and spreads the knowledge of Psychology and Mental Health through her podcasts, live shows, workshops, and blogs.