Feeling low? Wondering if you have depression? And if so, what you can do about it?
According to the CDC, 1 out of every 6 adults will experience depression during their lifetime. In the US, it will affect around 16 million Americans yearly.
But depression is not simply the emotions you get when you have a bad day. Or the result of feeling down. It goes beyond transitory feelings of sadness and grief. Experts state that bouts of depression can be recurring or can last for weeks at a time.
What makes depression a difficult illness to diagnose is that the causes and sources of depression differ. While for one person, a cause might be genetic. For another, biological or environmental factors such as stress might come into play.
Here is a look at common sources of depression.
Stressful or Traumatic Events
Often a traumatic or a stressful event can be a trigger for a depressive episode. Such traumatic events in one’s life often have to do with a serious illness or other grave health matter. Receiving bad news from your doctor can lead to feelings of helplessness. And often are a trigger for depression, further compounding a difficult situation.
Mental health experts suggest counseling as a way to manage emotions and keep oneself positive and upbeat for the future. This often includes taking practical steps to do what you can for your health or situation. For example, according to Dr. Andrew Lofman, a surgeon that performs breast augmentation in Michigan, “For many women who have undergone a mastectomy due to breast cancer, a breast reconstruction can truly be a life changer and offer a way to move on from a traumatic experience.”
Ever spent a couple hours on social media and felt low for hours afterward? Social media is now widely recognized as causing many mental health issues.
Researchers have regularly found a connection between social media sites and psychological distress. The cause, they pose, is that posts set unrealistic expectations of what life should like. Which leads to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and dissatisfaction. One survey notes that long periods of time on Instagram in particular can lead to high levels of anxiety and depression. In another survey, stats showed a high correlation between the number of social media sites a person was on and their depression risk.
The solution for depression caused by online networking sites? Mental health experts propose spending time with friends and family in real life. A phone call is better than a texting session. But seeing a friend face to face is better than seeing their posts online.
Grief and Loss
Losing a loved one can bring on a flood of many emotions. And depression is a common feeling for those who are grieving.
People handle loss in a variety of ways. And the healing process and time it takes varies from person to person. While you do want to give yourself time to grieve and heal, letting oneself remain in a depressed state can lead to clinical depression.
Family and friends are your first circle of support. But they, too, may be going through their own grieving process, which may look and feel different from your own. Do not compare.
Getting over depression and sadness over the loss of a loved one may feel like betrayal for some. But if you feel that you are unable to pull out of your sadness, do not struggle on your own. Counselors are able to help grievers develop strategies for moving beyond their grief.
Support groups can also help you not overburden your first circle of support.
Women are more prone to depression than men due to certain biological triggers. Pregnancy, menstruation, miscarriage, and menopause can effect a woman’s hormones. And thus increase her risk of depression.
Other biological factors include seasonal affective disorder. It occurs most often during the winter season. Experts believe that the lack of sunlight disrupts one’s circadian rhythm. Interrupting the body’s internal clock and leading to depression. Additionally, reduced sunlight can cause a drop of serotonin in the brain, which can also trigger a depressive state.
If you are experiencing a prolonged period of extreme sadness and hopelessness, get help. Never resign yourself to staying in a state of depression.
The first step toward recovery is recognizing that depression is treatable. The reward of feeling at peace will be worth your effort in finding a treatment that works for you.