Is Being Sad another Word for Depression Synonym?
I have lived two lives: the one before depression, and the one after it.
As far back as I can remember, I have always been this quiet, lonely kid. I am anxious of disappointing people, of being disliked, of being rude to others.
I think it all started spiraling out of control back in my high school years. I began developing this fear of getting laughed at, for saying something terribly wrong or looking like an idiot in the crowd.
As I grew up, my fears and anxieties grew up with me.
I realized much later in life what was going on in my mind. I was not a sob story. I was not even a plea for help. I was depressed.
It was the hardest thing to do at that time, but I stood up and told myself that I deserved better. It was the first step in my lifelong fight against clinical depression.
Living with Depression
I have been fighting major depression for more than 10 years. I have endured a decade of despair, toxic behavior and ceaseless tears on long nights, then having to pretend the next day that nothing is wrong.
The worst thing is that I knew my family and my friends were doing all they could, yet I still felt so lonely. Anything they said to me. I managed to turn it into something negative.
I was literally my own worst enemy. Living had become a nightmare. Perhaps the worst thing about living with depression is the mental health stigma surrounding the disorder.
The most awful thing that has been said to me in the last 10 years of having depression is: “You don’t know what real problems are. Just stop being so ungrateful!”
Signs of Depression: The Most Common Symptoms
Just trying to get through the day can be overwhelming for many of us. We all feel sad, lonely or miserable at times.
Those who suffer from a major depressive disorder describe the feeling as akin to living in a black hole day in, day out. Sadly enough, the majority do nothing to obtain relief from their symptoms.
Depression can manifest itself in many ways, including low mood, loss of interest in activities, physical pain and sometimes even memory lapses.
The symptoms of depression are at best quite complex and vary considerably from person to person.
That being said, there are always some telltale signs that will point to you that a friend, child or spouse is suffering and needs your help:
- Loss of interest in daily activities: Depression will make individuals lose interest in former hobbies, favorite pastimes and social activities.
- Loss of appetite/changes in weight: Depression can cause significant fluctuations in appetite and weight – 5% or more of the total body mass in a period of 30 days.
- Anger or irritability: Depression can lead to anger, agitation and sometimes even violence.
- Reckless Behavior: Depression and escapist behavior go hand in hand, such as reckless driving, compulsive gambling and substance abuse.
- Unexplained physical problems: People in depression typically experience increased fatigue, restless sleep, headaches, back pains, stomach pain and aching muscles.
When to Seek Professional Help?
How are you supposed to know when your depressive symptoms have reached a point when seeking professional help has become inevitable?
Here is a useful rule of thumb: if your depression:
- Is affecting your personal, professional and social life in a negative way;
- Is seriously interfering with your ability to function at work, in daily life routine or with family;
- Is pushing you to contemplate suicide or commit suicide;
- Has lasted for more than 2 weeks in a row.
Then it is time you consulted with a mental health professional. If these feelings are augmented by any suicidal symptoms you may be experiencing, then seeking professional help counts double.
Self-Help for Managing Depression
One should not feel guilty for having depression because it is an illness just like any other; not all that different from having a broken arm, for instance.
If we are so accepting of other parts of our bodies breaking, why can we not be that way about our minds too?
Although it may feel like you will never get out from under the dark shadow when you are depressed, please know that even the severest of depressions are treatable.
There are plenty of options at your disposal: from medication to therapy to self-help exercises to healthy lifestyle changes.
As someone with major depression and generalized anxiety disorder, I speak with experience. When you are in despair, you cannot just will yourself to ‘snap out’ of it.
It takes time and effort and sheer will power to heal and get better. Being down in the dumps can make you feel helpless.
While you may need professional help, there is a lot that you can do on your own to fight back.
- Set Goals: Often, depressed people feel like they cannot accomplish anything in life. To push back against this gloomy feeling, set meaningful goals for yourself that you can achieve in a relatively short time.
- Eat Healthy: While there is no magic diet that can fix sadness, it is still a good idea to watch what you eat. If depression is making you overeat, controlling your food consumption will definitely make you feel better.
- Exercise: Exercise and physical activity can have long-term benefits for people with depression. In fact, regular work out will help your brain rewire itself in surprisingly positive ways.
Coping with COVID-19 Pandemic and Quarantine Depression
Everything feels more challenging when you are dealing with despair and dejection. COVID-19 is the leading cause of stress and anxiety for millions these days.
The health risk that the pandemic poses combined with social isolation and a lack of access to leisure activities are proving to be stressful for almost everyone.
Fear, anxiety, loneliness and loss associated with COVID-19 are especially more challenging for those already experiencing clinical depression or similar mental health conditions.
In addition, frontline workers, healthcare providers, first responders, older people and children are more vulnerable than the general population.
During this challenging time of increased social distancing, we can still maintain social connections virtually and take care of our mental health.
You can manage stress by practicing self-care, engaging in your support network and maintaining a daily routine that will enable you to cope with this new, unpredictable situation more effectively.
Tips to Boost Your Happiness
The many pressures of life create many more anxious moments that we all experience. However, depression is different from being plain sad or anxious.
Sadness is a part of a normal life as long as you are not feeling it all the time. In a world with everybody chasing happiness, no wonder why there are so many feeling depressed.
Our mental health affects our overall health more than we realize. When we are angry, stressed or depressed, our body suffers too.
While I strongly recommend that you seek proper medical attention if you are struggling with anxiety, major depression or any other signs of a serious mental illness.
I have a handful of happiness-boosting strategies that I use myself to improve my personal happiness:
- Start slow: Depression has a way of alienating us from our hobbies and healthy habits that we once engaged in. However, don’t just expect to jump right back into everything you once used to do. Take one step at a time.
- Acknowledge your progress: It is important that you give yourself a pat on the shoulder after every little success and achievement. Acknowledge wholeheartedly each new thing that you add to your new life.
- Build strong relationships: Having healthy relationships and a strong support network is important for our mental wellbeing. Connect with your family, friends, neighbors and life partner, or meet new people and build new relationships from scratch.
- Meditation: Whereas daily workloads and challenging situations exacerbate depression and anxiety, medication can help you attain long-term happiness and peace.
- Go after life: Be yourself! Look your fears in the eye and approach life with enthusiasm. Explore what happiness actually means to you.
The bottome Line
Depression is a serious mental health condition that can have a profound effect on your life.
The truth is that there is no such thing as ‘after depression’ for many people who continue to find themselves in its dark shadow.
Depression is actually a lifelong challenge that might never go away, but we learn to live and work with it more effectively.
If I was to give one piece of advice to my friends who are struggling with depression, it would be not to suffer in silence.
There are people out there who have been through the same things that you are experiencing and have come out on the other side.
In fact, their experiences have made them stronger and who they are today. It may seem impossible to overcome but believe me, you will get there.