Major depression is one of the most debilitating illnesses affecting today. It can affect your ability to function, think, and feel. More specifically, it is a mood problem noted by pervasive sadness, disappointment, and hopelessness. The depressed person usually has difficulty finding pleasure in life, has feelings of intense loneliness, and has limited energy to engage in life activities. Most people have periods when they feel discouraged about their circumstances. However, true depression goes deeper by lasting longer and impacting one’s whole existence.
People dealing with depression often wish for a better day, but have lost hope that it will come. They do not know how to ‘feel’ better. Those suffering from depression may experience extreme mood fluctuations or a desire to withdraw from interactions with others. Frustrated with the inability to snap out of it, they become more discouraged. In some cases, depression can last for extended periods of time – months or even years. One way to deal with depression is to determine the severity of the experience, understand the influences that prompted its onset, and securing treatment options.
Depression can impact a person’s life in many different ways. To a large degree, the manifestation of depression depends on the person’s coping style, personality, and previous level of functioning. Following are some symptoms of depression. Review the areas and determine how you compare with the descriptors.
- Blunted emotional presentation or frequent crying spells
- Difficulty in finding pleasure in life activities
- Decreased sexual desire
- Profound feelings of guilt or shame
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Cold or distant feelings toward family or friends
- Decreased interest in participating in activities previously enjoyed
- Diminished interest in maintaining one’s hygiene
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Reduced coping ability
- Impaired communication with others (e.g., irritating, sarcastic)
- Lack of energy
- Compulsive eating or loss of appetite
- Headaches, backaches, or general muscle aches without a specific cause
- Gastrointestinal problems (e.g., stomach pain, nausea, change in bowel habits)
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
If you have several of these symptoms, you may be seriously depressed. Consulting with a professional counselor may be helpful as you determine a way to handle the problem. One step in this process is to understand the various causes of depression.
What Causes Depression?
Depression can be prompted by a variety of factors. Some episodes of depression are situation-induced. For example, the death of a loved one, the loss of one’s job, or the disappointment of failed efforts to get into graduate school can all initiate an episode of depression. When someone can discern the source of depression, the outlook is more favorable. Specific measures can be incorporated to deal with the pain. However, when no source is clear, the depression may worsen due to lack of treatment.
In addition to situational factors, there are other stressors that prompt depression. Chemical imbalances, personality factors, drug and alcohol use, physical illness, and inadequate dietary practices can influence the onset of depression. Given that so many influences can impact one’s mental health, it is important to monitor one’s lifestyle and health practices.
All forms of depression are serious if they affect your ability to function. Careful attention to determining the source of inner conflict, strained emotions, and behavioral changes is critical for addressing the development of depression and highlighting treatment options.
Key suggestions for offsetting depression include; exercising to work off tension, meditating to clear the mental impurities of the day, changing the routine aspects of your life, developing a support system, and finding a healthy way to release pent up emotions.
If these initial steps do not provide relief from the pain, other options are available. Consider speaking with a friend, partner, minister, professional counselor, or psychiatrist to canvass a different perspective. In addition to therapy options, there are medicinal treatments that target depression with noted effectiveness.
If you need assistance in managing depression, you may want to consult with a professional counselor in your geographical area. Students at the University of Florida can contact the CWC. See the introductory web page for how to initiate services at the center.