What is depression?

Most human beings go through a swing in moods on a day to day basis and this is considered quite normal. We see that our mood varies over time and from day to day and there are times when we feel low and depressed for a few days when things are not turning out the way we want them to. We may say that we are 'down', 'fed up', or 'feeling under the weather' at such times. But as days pass we bounce back putting the past behind us.. Although people often say 'I'm depressed' it only means that they are going through the normal ups and downs of life and this would not usually be what is called clinical depression. Some people naturally experience frequent mood changes, while others have a relatively stable equilibrium and are able to cope with a lot more negative turns in life.

Similarly, when we suffer a major loss, it is understood that it is normal to grieve and feel depressed. Although some of the emotions we feel when we are bereaved appear similar to clinical depression, it is a natural and ultimately a healing process that is much needed for human beings. In fact according to psychologists when past losses were not fully mourned at the time they happened, they may later resurface and present as clinical depression much later.

So, put simply, the distinction between feeling 'down' and being depressed is one of both degree and duration. A person who has been feeling low for a long time can often develop symptoms of clinical depression. So, one has to take care to see that it does not become problematic when such feelings keep occurring at frequent intervals and become persistent to the extent where it begins to affect our work, relationships, social activities and self-esteem.

Clinical Depression especially can be very harmful and can include a persistent low mood and loss of interest in anything in life....

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Negative thinking is often at the root of depression

We can see that depression and negative thinking go hand in hand. When people are depressed they usually find themselves thinking very negative thoughts about themselves and the world around them and one can also see that these thoughts are felt to be absolutely true and that there is no way of things ever changing. However, studies have shown that when people are no longer depressed they go back to seeing things in a more positive and balanced way. But, once a person becomes negative it is not easy to draw him or her out and instill positivity.

This is because Negative thoughts affect the way people feel, therefore frequently perceiving things in a very negative way will only fuel feelings of depression. It is also a known fact that women have a far greater chance of becoming depressed than men. This could be due to a number of factors like upbringing, the influences of society, social environment or a combination of all these factors.

Psychoanalysts say that it is also the result of genetics, biochemistry, and psychological conditions. Many studies conducted on women show, that women who are genetically inclined to depression since their early ages are more apt to become depressed after even a minor trauma in their life. The genetics factor however impacts both women and men. Depression also runs in families, often for generations. According to scientists the neuro-chemical deficiencies seen in depressed people are transmitted genetically from parents to offspring.

Social Factors

In a closed society like ours ( Indian) social factors also impact on a woman's tendency to have depression. We see that often parents are openly partial to male children and male members of the family and this results in women having low self-esteem. They also tend to be blamed for others mistakes due to superstitious beliefs and rigidity on the part of the family elders.

A women is also expected to shoulder many responsibilities at the same time that of a mother, wife, housekeeper, employee, taking care of ailing parents, etc., etc. And if and when women begin to feel the warning signs of depression, they are so busy taking care of everyone else that they don't take care of themselves nor have the time to analyse their own feelings and frustrations..

Depression is also often associated with a trauma or major change in one's life or a loss that has shocked the person. Such a magnitude of grief makes the person more psychologically susceptible to a complete mental vulnerability and results in depression, which can have serious long lasting effects.

Self help is the best help

There are some things that have been shown to help lift a depressed person’s mood. The only requirement is a committed family and self since it involves changing your behavior and also challenging your negative thoughts. I have personally seen that a supportive and understanding family members and friends can do wonders for those who are bordering on clinical depression.

I am noting down some points that help in getting over depression

1, Changing behavior – Since we already discussed that negativity has a lot to do with depression ( however it is not easy to determine whether negative people become depressed or depression makes them negative) we can be sure that depressed people often stop doing pleasurable and fun filled activities which would make them feel better in the short term.

Like for example they may altogether stop going out with friends and socialising, opt out of regular sporting activity, or stop going their school, college or even work places. When we Encourage ourselves to start doing things again, one may well find that you can do things better than you imagine. If you usually enjoy going to the cinema or swimming, for example, try these things to start with. Any activity will be helpful, but enjoyable activities, outdoor activities ,physical exercise and sport are particularly effective in getting rid of that low and depressed feeling.

It helps to start by doing easier tasks and then progress to more difficult ones - this will help you to regain your confidence and in no time at all life becomes different and more attractive.

2, Be realistic – Many people have unrealistic expectations out of other people and when things do not happen the way they expect them to, they become unhappy and become depressed, losing interest in everything. Some also have the habit of taking on too many things at a time which makes it difficult for them to do complete justice to any all of them. Instead be realistic and allow yourself more time to do fewer things, so that you can devote more time to the task at hand.It is a good idea to re examine our expectations and priorities in life every now and then and adjust and compromise when necessary to do so instead of feeling depressed later when they fail to materialise.

3, Contemplate – Life is not just about working towards your goal but also enjoying it. So, every now and then allow yourself to feel pleasure at what you have achieved and reward yourself for each achievement in some way. This is a very positive attitude that makes sure that you are on the right track and there is no room for negativity or depression in your life.

4, Socialise – We cannot live in isolation and it is very important to spend time with people who are supportive and who we have confidence in. Isolating oneself increases depression, while social support helps lift a low mood. It is also important to find people ( either close relatives, family members or friends ) with whom you can be honest about how you are feeling, and with whom you do not have to put on any pretence. At the same time make sure that you don’t cling to them and take up all their time.

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5, Take up some hobbies –According to most analysts ,one of the most common reasons for depression is a lack of enough interests and activities and hobbies. Some people don’t take up anything seriously, often giving up and taking on new ones. Having some healthy hobbies and taking Interest in some activities is very important for our physical well being and mental health, contributing to increased self-esteem and happiness. Hobbies and activities give us satisfaction, help make you feel good about yourself, and keep your mind off and minor problems and negative thoughts and emotions.

Even a simple measure like simply cultivating a hobby can cure depression, grief, addiction, explosive anger, anxiety, excessive worrying, or a feeling of guilt. We tend to get immersed in our hobbies and any interesting activities that we have taken up and our mind gets totally occupied with it.

5, Communication – Communication is very essential in life since it is also an important social skill that give us pleasant and interesting things to talk about, improving your conversation skills and helping in making and keeping friends. We can see that children with many interests and activities are less likely to have behavior problems, especially during growing teen t years when they tend to get addicted to alcohol or drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, violence, crime and so on. When people develop a wide variety of interests. It keeps them busy and out of trouble and naturally build different circles of friends, so they are less likely to be influenced by the wrong kind of friends.

6, Positive Attitude – As we discussed earlier ,negative thinking and negative habits play a very important role in depression. Researches show that depressed people tend to become morose and their activity levels come down since they lose interest in all of them. When people are in a happier frame of mind and keep a positive attitude by gracefully accepting frustrations and suffering as normal parts of life, they also cope better with any kind of problems that may come their way.

This positive attitude also makes them more pleasant to be around and improve their social lives. One should remember that happiness is something that needs to be cultivated and a courageous choice of loving life in the face of suffering and problems..

7, Be Balanced - People need a healthy balance between pleasure and work and this is something that needs to be cultivated . We see some people forever working and worrying about the outcome and pushing themselves so hard that they forget to relax more, and eliminate some work activities. Such people are the ones who often become depressed at the slightest cause and since they have no other activity to take their mind off any negative impact.

8, Exercise always helps - Many doctors and psychologists recommend regular exercise for mental well being and especially for those prone to depression . Exercise it improves the mood, invigorating and giving us more energy. Deep relaxation that is got after one takes part in exercise also helps combat depression and especially helps anxious depressed people. Exercise in fact keeps all of us physically and mentally fit and should become an integral part of our lifestyle.

To conclude, when an individual is balanced in his or her approach towards work and other aspects of life instead of forever complaining, sighing, and crying chances are that he or she would never have to worry about being depressed. Quit worrying about whether you are happy instead develop an all round interest, be kind, understanding and help other people whenever you are able to do so. Conquering your depression may take months or years but remember that it depends on how long you have had negative habits, your personal problems, and how much effort you put into it. Ultimately it is in your hands to see that you remain depression free and happy!


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