First off, let me say that the word “depression” gets tossed around a lot. Though we may say, “I’m depressed”, or hear someone else say it, we do need to keep in mind that the word can mean, “I am bummed because I lost my job and haven’t found another one”, OR it can mean something a lot more serious than that.
Searching around on the internet I found a lot of information about symptoms of depression, and while searching, I came across an article called “The Five Symptoms of Depression” (see the article HERE)
1) Depressed mood (feelings of sadness or being blue)
2) Lack of interest (in activities that you previously enjoyed)
3) Feelings of worthlessness
4) Poor concentration
5) Thoughts of death
I felt that this was a good overall list, and along with these, I frequently saw, fatigue, and over or under-eating. You can also look for shortness of temper, nail biting, or drinking or smoking more than usual.
What was most surprising to me was that I didn’t see the word “isolation” listed anywhere. I’ve always thought that isolation was the biggest indicator of depression. It is for me.
As an only child, I am very much okay all by myself. As a matter of fact, “alone time” is necessary for me. There have been times when living by myself that I would find myself in a serious funk of depression, only to discover that it had been days since I’d seen or spoke with anyone. I might have just started playing guitar or watching movies and sleeping, and not even purposely isolated myself, but after a few days go by, I am a mess. Once I figured out this pattern though, I could watch for it. If I found myself in this situation, I would simply get out of the house. Go see a friend, go to church, go see your parents or do something, but get out of the house.
Of course though, you can be around other people and going to work and going through the motions of your life, and become just as isolated. Your mind can be on something else, you are bothered by something, and you just close up inside. The only real cure for this is to have someone that you can confide in, someone you can “let in”. Is there someone who knows how you truly feel about things? If not, you need a person like that, because even if just one other person knows, it feels so much better.
But there is a deeper kind of depression that talking to other people and being around other’s doesn’t seem to help. This is when you cannot get out of bed and go to school or work. Functioning is beyond you. This is when depression is getting a little too serious, because if you cannot take care of yourself, you now need to either see a doctor, or you need to be hospitalized.
I’ve been hospitalized twice, and I have taken psychotropic medications too. Fortunately for me, a spiritual program and working with doctors and my spiritual advisor, has allowed me to come off of all medications, and I haven’t been hospitalized in quite some time.
So if you are having a lot of trouble just functioning, there is no harm in asking for help. A doctor, a hospital stay, or taking a medication may very well make a huge positive difference in your life. Doctors and hospitals and medicines truly helped me, and I don’t hesitate to suggest these methods if I see that they are needed. Some times we need help, and if help is available, why not take it? Now I live a pretty normal life, and I don’t have so much trouble functioning.
You wanna hear a funny story? Once I went to my psychiatrist and he asked me if I’d been taking my medicine as prescribed. (which was morning, noon, and night) I said, “I don’t know, how should I know?” I explained to him that often I would go to take my medicine only to stop and think, “Did I just take this ten minutes ago?” I often couldn’t remember, so sometimes I would take it and sometimes I would wait till time for the next dose.
He suggested that I get a piece of paper and make a little graph and make a check mark when I took my medicine, and this did work better for me. Now when I took my meds I had to check it off the list. This meant I had to pay a little more attention, be a little more alert.
And it was things like that that showed me exactly how little attention I ever payed to anything. It was things like this that let me see exactly how lost I was, how unawake I was, and how often my mind was somewhere else.
What does the funny story have to do with depression? EVERYTHING. Here is a list of things that you can do to help you if you are depressed:
1) Look at your self and what you are doing. Check your routine.
2) Routine routine routine. The body and mind need routine. Food, sleep, exercise, etc…
3) Start examining yourself and keep track of things. Make a schedule for yourself
4) Socialize. Church, join a club, go somewhere and do something with other people. Volunteering is the best because it will get you to thinking about something other than your self.
5) Make sure you have at least one person in the world, with whom you share your feelings and concerns with.
6) Exercise has been mentioned already, but there have been hundreds of studies done at this point, and they basically all say that “people who exercise don’t get depressed”. Yes, there are exceptions to this rule, but they are in the extreme minority.
Don’t take yourself lightly. Don’t take your life lightly. You are here on earth for a reason and you have a purpose that is important, or you wouldn’t be here. Nothing in the Universe is without purpose and reason. Nothing. And if you or someone you know is suffering from depression, don’t be afraid to speak up. You may be the one who this person can talk to and share their feelings with. You may find the help that you need for yourself if you ask or look for it, or let someone know that you need help.
I am always here for you.