You have probably said to yourself at least once, “I am depressed.” We often say this to describe feelings of sadness, unhappiness, dissatisfaction with life, and lack of energy. These feelings might last a few hours or a few days, but typically they last for a short time. In fact, they are often directly linked to a specific event that has us down and once we get through that we bounce back.
Sometimes though those feelings don’t go away and become very intense, even debilitating. This might be a sign that you have clinical depression, a mental health issue 1 in 10 people in America suffers from.
Signs that you might have clinical depression are major changes in your sleeping patterns or appetite, significant weight loss, anxiety or panic attacks, or you feel anxious or scared. People with clinical depression usually have symptoms like these on a daily basis and they interfere with their ability to work, be successful in school and maintain healthy relationships. If you think you might be struggling with clinical depression, try the online screening tool provided by Mental Health America here.
If you are experiencing these symptoms it can be difficult to know how to get help, but it is important to get treatment. A good place to start is your primary care physician. First, they will evaluate you medically to make sure there isn’t an underlying medical issue causing the symptoms. If not, they will evaluate you for depression and either suggest treatment or refer you to a psychiatrist.
Doctors most commonly prescribe antidepressants for depression, though these drugs can also help with symptoms of social anxiety, ADD, and insomnia. They may give you a prescription to buy Wellbutrin, Zoloft, Cymbalta or another SSRI antidepressant. These medications are very successful in treating most people.
In addition, there are several holistic, natural ways you can treat depression including:
· Exercise—exercising releases endorphins, chemicals that affect your brain and make you feel good. For this reason, exercise is a proven way to lessen depression. Don’t forget that sunshine brightens your mood as well so exercise outside to enjoy the sun and fresh air.
· Eating right—eating balanced meals to minimize blood sugar spikes and maintain your general health will help lessen some of the physical symptoms of depression. Don’t miss meals and make sure to get enough folic acid and B-12 which is found in leafy greens and beans and eggs.
· Herbal supplements—supplements like SAMe and St. John’s Wort have been helpful for some people who are experiencing depression, but be sure to discuss this with your doctor to make sure they do not interact badly with other medications you may be taking.
· Stay active—this can be difficult to do when you are depressed, but socializing with others can make you feel less depressed. Spend time with friends and family, laugh and have fun.
· Yoga—relaxation techniques like yoga can be very helpful in helping relieve stress, anxiety and other symptoms of depression.
If your feelings of depression are interfering with your life, lasting longer than a couple weeks, or you are having suicidal thoughts it is very important to get professional help. There are many proven ways to treat depression and get you feeling better. Remember, those feelings aren’t going to go away by themselves. Get some help so you can get back to enjoying life!