Everyone has experienced feelings of depression at some point in their lives, but clinical depression is lasting, full of depth, and not always easy to self-diagnose. In this brief quote by C.S. Lewis, depression is eloquently reckoned as one of the greatest trials of mankind;
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
In some people, depression strikes on a daily basis and they must fight for their very will to live or to live well, day in and day out. With others, depression sneaks up on them seasonally or monthly during hormonal shifts. Others have triggers that aren’t obvious, and they find themselves once again dealing with the stifling effects of the illness. Finally, others are triggered by difficult life events, and even after the normal course of grief, there is no relief. In any case, there is ALWAYS hope for those suffering from depression, and if you or someone you know struggles with it occasionally or on an on-going basis, read on!
In the bullet points below, the National Institue of Mental Health discusses signs and symptoms, as well as helpful treatment options for those struggling.
Some of the basic symptoms of depression are:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
If you think you are someone who struggles with depression, here are some tips to help:
- Do not wait too long to get evaluated or treated. There is research showing the longer one waits, the greater the impairment can be down the road. Try to see a professional as soon as possible. For mild to moderate depression, talk therapy can be very effective, especially CBT and IPT (Reflections Counseling Center therapists generally practice eclectic CBT techniques). Call Reflections Counseling Center at 941-301-8420 to schedule an appointment with a licensed counselor who is trained in the clinical treatment of depression.
- Try to be active and exercise. Go to a movie, a ballgame, or another event or activity that you once enjoyed.
- Set realistic goals for yourself.
- Break up large tasks into small ones, set some priorities and do what you can as you can.
- Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative. Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
- Expect your mood to improve gradually, not immediately. Do not expect to suddenly “snap out of” your depression. Often during treatment for depression, sleep and appetite will begin to improve before your depressed mood lifts.
- Postpone important decisions, such as getting married or divorced or changing jobs, until you feel better. Discuss decisions with others who know you well and have a more objective view of your situation.
- Remember that positive thinking will replace negative thoughts as your depression responds to treatment.
- Continue to educate yourself about depression.
- If you have moderate to severe depression, visit both a therapist and a psychiatrist who comes with a good recommendation. If you are local to Sarasota, Dr. Elizabeth John on University in Sarasota is available for appointments at (941) 621-2116.
As a Christian, I know I can find examples of depression and other mental struggles in the Bible, as well as find hope for every type of pain, such as in the Psalmist’s lament in Psalms 42:11 “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
There is victory in staying close to God through the trial of depression, in telling Him and others your story, and in loving yourself the way you love others. My hope and prayer is that anyone reading this will not sit in the overwhelming pain any longer but will allow the healing journey to begin! Call Reflections Counseling Center for more information at 941-301-8420.