Clinical depression is more than just having a bad day. Depression is a real illness that impedes a person’s daily life and normal functioning. It causes pain both for those affected and the people close to them. Depression is one condition that is often overlooked or ignored because of the stigma and connotations associated with the disorder.
Many people do not believe depression is a serious mental health problem and others think that you can simply “snap out” of it. This is not the case. Depression is an issue that can cause many health problems and even lead to deadly consequences such as suicide if not handled properly. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders, affecting an estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States.
Most people who are experiencing depression will need treatment to get better. And, while many will require the help of medication in order to feel right, there are some strategies that you can implement to prevent or fight depressive symptoms without the help of, or in addition to, medication.
There are a number of symptoms associated with depression. While sadness is the most well-known symptom, it is only a small part of the disorder and some people may not feel sadness at all. If you or a loved one has experienced any of the following signs or symptoms for at least two weeks, you may be dealing with depression:
- Persistent sadness or anxiousness
- An “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or worthlessness
- Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
- Difficulty sleeping
- Weight changes
- Thoughts of suicide
While these signs of depression are serious and can lead to many physical and mental health consequences, there are many ways that you can work to combat these problems. While medication is an option available, there are other ways to fight the symptoms and disorder.
Strategies to Defeat Depression
Medication is available for those who need it, and many do. But there are other things that you can do to promote healthy living without the use of, or in addition to, medication.
Physical exercise is one of the best things that you can do to improve physical and mental health. While there does need to be more research in regard to how helpful exercise is as an antidepressant, there is evidence that remaining active is a good way to decrease depressive symptoms.
Diet and Nutrition
There is a link between depression and a lack of a healthy diet. Many people who are depressed make poor food choices. Similarly, there is research regarding the communication pathways in the brain and evidence that there is an association between nutritional intake, the central nervous system, and how they influence an individual’s psychological health status. While there is more research to be done regarding how influential diet can be in reducing depressive symptoms, maintaining a healthy, nutrient-rich diet is one way to stay physically healthy and may prove to have positive effects on mental health, too.
Another way that you might be able to help improve depressive symptoms is by staying engaged socially. Many people who experience depression withdraw from friends and family and shut themselves out. Maintaining these relationships and even expanding them can improve your overall mood. Similarly, staying socially stimulated by volunteering may be one of the best ways to fight depression through social engagement, and it is mutually beneficial as well.
While there are ways to combat depressive symptoms, sometimes they don’t always work. If this is the case, do not be discouraged from using antidepressants if they are needed. There is a stigma against depression and antidepressants, but no one should ever be afraid or embarrassed about these things. With any other illness, you would not feel strange or ashamed of using medication to treat it. And antidepressant use, despite how stigmatized it is, is common. In fact, about one in six Americans use antidepressants.
With that said, it should be noted the medication can be dangerous if taken incorrectly. If overused or taken with other drugs, it can lead to mental and physical health consequences, including increased risk of suicide. While deaths from antidepressants are a real thing, if taken as prescribed, the medication is likely not dangerous and can alleviate the symptoms associated with depression.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.
Author Bio: Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer of Landmark Recovery, a growing chain of drug and alcohol rehab centers in Oklahoma and Kentucky. Matthew graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree and has worked in the healthcare industry ever since, creating a holistic treatment model that supports patients in the pursuit of achieving lifelong sobriety.
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
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