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Managing Depression Symptoms: What You Can Do Right Now

Living with depression is part of life for an estimated 16 million people in the United States and more than 300 million across the world, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That means, for millions of people, depression is far more serious than feeling down in the dumps or a temporary case of the blues.

No one feels happy all the time, but low moods that stick around for weeks, months, or even years is a big sign that a depressive disorder may be the issue that needs to be addressed.

If you are among the population of people managing depression daily, you may have noticed a change in your sleeping or eating patterns. You also may have trouble focusing while working on the job or at school, or you may struggle overall to stay on task, no matter what you are doing. 

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) says major depressive disorder (MDD) is a medical condition affecting one’s thoughts, actions, and feelings daily for considerable periods. If you experience any of the following for longer than just a temporary period, you could have MDD, which ranges from mild to severe:

  • Nagging sadness
  • Little to no interest in daily activities
  • No interest or pleasure in hobbies
  • Weight loss or gain that’s not related to dieting
  • Little to no energy
  • Increased tiredness
  • Restlessness, irritability

You also could exhibit slower movements or speak slower. Adverse emotions include feeling worthless or guilty. You could struggle to think clearly or make decisions. People with MDD also think about death and can have suicidal thoughts.

The APA writes, “Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.”

Depression that lasts longer than two weeks can be referred to as clinical depression.

What You Can Do Right Now If You Are Depressed

The first thing you can do is acknowledge that you are in a low mood and need to get help for your condition as soon as possible. Reach out to a mental health treatment program at an accredited facility with professionals on staff who understand your condition and how it needs to be treated. They can direct you to any evidence-based methods and medications you may need.

Getting professional treatment can help you uncover any other medical or mental health conditions you may not know you have. In many cases, depression that lasts longer than two weeks is a symptom of other disorders, such as:

It is important not to let depression go unchecked. It could be more serious than you think, especially if it lasts longer than two weeks. If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 911 or 1-800-273-8255, the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

If you have used addictive substances, such as drugs and alcohol, to self-medicate in order to deal with depression or symptoms of depression, you definitely should call a mental health facility or addiction treatment facility to get help. Depending on how many substances you have used and how long you have been using them, you could be in the mild, moderate, or severe stage of a substance use disorder. You should get help right away.

It is common for people with depression or MDD to use substances in this manner. While this might be the way you deal with your depression, it is not a safe way to do it. You could aggravate your depression and increasingly find it harder to stop your substance use. You could be in the early stages of an addiction, and if you stop using drugs or alcohol abruptly, you could overdose if you decide to go back on them once the withdrawal symptoms become too much to bear.

Give Serenity at Summit a call right now so that we can help you manage your depression the right way and help you stop using substances in this way. Call us today to learn more about how we treat clients with comorbid disorders.

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Other things you can do to manage your depression right now are:

Get some rest. Depression can be difficult to manage when you have little sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, lack of quality sleep can lead to the development of depression, and having depression can contribute to a person having issues with sleep, such as insomnia. “This complex relationship can make it challenging to know which came first, sleep issues or depression,” it writes. According to the foundation, getting treatment for depression can lead to improved sleep.

Improve your diet and exercise. How we treat our bodies and what we put into them affects our mental health as well. Everyday Health identifies several foods that can help fight depression. Turkey, fatty fish, whole grains, and low-fat dairy are on the list of foods that can help. Combating depression with healthful eating includes cutting out sugar, caffeine, salt, deep-fried foods, alcoholic beverages, among other items, according to Healthline. Be sure to include foods in your diet that have essential nutrients and minerals, and drink water. Working with a nutritionist or dietitian can help you figure out what food diet works best for you. 

You can also commit to an exercise routine with cardiovascular and strength-training benefits. Working out releases endorphins that can help you keep depression at bay or at least in perspective.

Reach out to a trusted friend, family member. Staying connected to someone who listens to you and respects you is important in challenging times. Keeping everything inside and to yourself could be adding to your depression, making it worse for you in the long run. Find someone you can confide in about your depression. They can give you the support and encouragement you need and help you seek resources that can help you manage it better. This person can also serve as an accountability buddy who can keep you focused on improving your mental health.

Sad woman struggling to manage her depression

Develop a routine or create a new one. Life can get off track sometimes, but creating a structure to keep it organized and focused can help you manage your depression as you will feel some level of control over your life and responsibility to yourself. You can set daily, weekly, or monthly goals to measure your progress. 

If you are feeling a low mood that you can’t seem to shake, consider changing up your routine. You can incorporate one new thing at a time. For example, instead of getting up in the morning and turning on your computer to work, you can try stretching exercises or mindful meditation before you start your day. Taking some extra time to focus on yourself and what you want can help you stick to a new schedule. If it doesn’t work out, you can always adopt your old one. 

What to Expect If You Get Professional Help for Depression

Treatment for depression will look different depending on each person’s needs. It can be long-term, but again, that depends on the person. Usually, patients treated for depression are reviewed to see if therapies and antidepressant medication treatment could help. 

If you are prescribed an antidepressant, the medication will attempt to bring chemicals in the brain that affect mood, emotions, and behavior into balance. Medical professionals view these medications as safe to use because they are not habit-forming and work slowly in the body. This is especially important for people who are at risk of developing a substance use disorder or are in recovery from one.

If you are prescribed psychotherapy, you may be assigned to attend cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions that help you become aware of negative thought patterns that encourage depressive behavior. CBT can also help you find affirming solutions for the issues you come up against. Changing how you think first can help you adopt positive behaviors, which can help you manage depression.

There are various therapies available to help you combat depression. A mental health professional who is knowledgeable about mental health disorders can identify the right therapies for you.

Sources

ADAA. (n.d.). Facts & Statistics. Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics

What Is Depression? (n.d.). American Psychiatric Association (APA). Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression

“What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder?” What Is PTSD? Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Depression and Sleep. (2020, December 11). Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health/depression-and-sleep

Myers, W., Parch, L., Marks, J., Hurley, K., Seitzer, M., Rauf, D., . . . Clayton, J. (n.d.). Diet for Depression: 8 Foods that do the Trick: Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/depression-pictures/8-foods-that-fight-depression.aspx

Hepler, L. (2020, August 19). Healthy Eating for Depression. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/healthy-eating

Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms. (2017, September 27). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495

Staff, Familydoctor.org Editorial. “Types of Antidepressants.” Familydoctor.org, 3 Apr. 2017. Retrieved from https://familydoctor.org/types-of-antidepressants/

(2019, October 24) Verywell Mind. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Process, Types, Components, Uses, and Effectiveness. Cherry, K., Gans, Steven, MD. from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-cognitive-behavior-therapy-2795747#the-components-of-cognitive-behavior-therapy

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