We can all agree that we have had those days where we felt like we had the whole world on our shoulders. For some, that feeling of heaviness doesn’t stay too long, while for others, it’s an anchor that weighs and pulls them down.
The feeling of heaviness is often associated with other emotions: hopelessness, despair, a sense of guilt, maybe, or the overwhelming inability to live life. When these emotions and thoughts take control on how we think, feel, act, or even perceive life—it may be more than just the case of simply “having a bad day”. It might actually be depression.
What is Depression?
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), depression (major depressive disorder) is a serious medical illness that negatively affects the way you feel, the way you think and how you act. It can interfere with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life. Even the simple thought of going through the day is already exhausting.
Among millennials and Gen Z’s, the prevalence of suffering from depression is more common than we think. The World Health Organization accounts for more than 264 million people from all over the world across all ages who are suffering from depression. The APA further explains that depression can strike at any time, but statically speaking, it first appears during your late teens to mid-20s
However, while it is normal to have days where you feel down and sad, being depressed does not define the full reality of your situation and who you are as a person. No matter how sad and hopeless things get, there is still a way for you to get better or at least begin to cope with it, and it starts by understanding what is causing your depression and by recognizing its symptoms and signs.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
The American Psychiatric Association explains that severity of symptoms varies from person to person. The more you feel these symptoms, the more likely that you could be possibly suffering from depression.
Feeling sad or having a depressed mood – Extreme sudden shifts in your mood where you suddenly feel that everything is hopeless.
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed – You no longer find joy in the things you used to do. You dread going out with friends or taking part in any social activities.
Changes in appetite or weight – Despite not exercising or overeating, your weight has significantly increased or decreased in a short period.
Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much – Possible case of insomnia, or sometimes fast-paced negative thoughts continue to run in your head.
Loss of energy or increased fatigue – You easily get tired from the smallest exertion of effort. Easy tasks may also take a while for you to finish.
Feeling worthless or guilty – You’re quick to point out your faults and harshly criticize yourself for mistakes.
Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions – It takes time for you to get your thoughts straight or feel focused at a task. Having to make decisions overwhelms you.
Thoughts of death or suicide – You feel that there’s no other way out from what you’re feeling or going through.
These signs could mean that you might be going through depression, but there’s no way to prove it unless you go to a psychiatrist or psychologist to have yourself tested. Even if we do have more accessible clinics, going to a psychiatrist is not always the easiest thing to do or the most affordable.
While it is the best way to get yourself treated, there are other options that are available to you to at least help in lessening the heavy feeling that comes with depression.
Learning to Cope with Depression
There are many ways to start the process of learning to cope and reducing the symptoms of depression. Not everything will work out for you, but the ultimate goal is to try and regain control and joy over the little things in life and do things that make you happy.
The things that require the most effort tend to overwhelm us so start with small tasks, such as waking up and going to sleep at a fixed time. You can also try breathing techniques to help you calm down. Do some laundry. Take a five-minute walk outside. Cook yourself a meal. The important thing here to remember is that you do things that least overwhelm you.
Open up and Seek Help
Depression makes you feel lonely. While it makes you think that no one cares about you, in reality the people around you are probably concerned about you. Start by opening up to a close friend or family. If you feel that they may not understand what you are going through, you can always try to seek professional help, or talk to a help hotline.
When things get too much, allow yourself a rest day. But that doesn’t mean going back to being unproductive. Reward yourself by taking an extra-long shower. Treat yourself to a good meal or sleep in for an extra hour. Normalize the feeling of allowing yourself to feel good.
When you find yourself getting into a routine, try to add more harder tasks such as exercising or investing yourself in a hobby. It’s important that you relearn to focus on tasks and commit to them.
Depression is a serious illness. Once you find yourself feeling down for too long, take the time to understand your feelings, read up on the symptoms, and allow yourself to find help. And once you do, remember that the road to overcoming depression is by no means easy or fast. While there’s no exact cure to depression, always remember that it is still possible to live a happy life in spite of it.