Depression affects about 17. 5 million Americans and out of those, an estimated 9.2 million will have what is considered major or clinical depression.
What’s the difference between depression and major depression?
Major depression is categorized as:
- a depressed mood, most of the day, nearly everyday for at least two weeks. In children, adolescence and some adults, depression may present as irritation or anger.
- Marked diminished interest in or pleasure in all, or nearly all activities most of the day, nearly everyday.
- Significant weight loss (when not dieting), decrease in appetite, or significant weight gain or appetite nearly everyday.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly everyday.
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation (i.e. moving extremely slow or faster than normal) nearly everyday.
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly everyday.
- Feelings or worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly everyday.
- Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness nearly everyday.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts with or without a plan or a suicide attempt.
A person doesn’t have to have all of these symptoms to be diagnosed as having major depression, but they have to have the majority of these symptoms for at least two weeks and they can’t be accounted for something else, such as bereavement (i.e., losing someone close to them recently).
Depression has been given a bad name and so many people who feel depressed don’t like to admit to it and may not seek help or even the comfort of a friend when they are feeling depressed. The thing about depression in general is that it is not always a bad thing.As a matter of fact, very often, depression is your minds way of telling you that something in your life is not going the way you want it to go.
Instead of ignoring that feeling or trying to make it go away immediately, it may be a good time to sit with it and evaluate your life and see what is it that is not going the way you want it to go, and if you can change it, then change it, if you can’t, then try to change the way you think about it.
More often then not, this is what depression is and it is possible for a person who is in tune with themselves, to take this self-evaluation, correct the problem(s) and eliminate their symptoms. Other times, a depressed person may need the help of a professional to help them analyze what’s going wrong in their lives and help them learn how to deal with it. And yet, still there are times when medication is needed due to chemical imbalances or if a person gets to the point where they are so depressed that they don’t have the capacity to be introspective.
While most of us have or will experience depression at least once in our lifetimes, major depression can be a very dark and dangerous place. The Center for Disease Control has intentional suicide as the number ten cause of death in the United States last year, killing an estimated 38, 364 people.
10 Tips To Fighting Depression
**First off… if you or someone you know is suicidal, don’t be afraid to call 911 or 1-800-suicide for immediate help**
- Opposite Actions is a technique from Dialectical Behavior Therapy that basically says, do the opposite of what the depression is telling you to do. If you feel like staying in bed all day, get up and do something. If you feel like blowing off your friends, don’t, call them and force yourself to be out with them. One of the things about depression is that it is a self-feeding disease. It zaps a persons motivation, makes them want to isolate themselves and stop doing things like going to the gym, all of which end up making the person feel more depressed.
- Set an alarm that will help you wake up, that will remind you to eat, or to do whatever it is you need to do.
- Take care of yourself by getting out of your bed, making it, and taking a shower. Letting yourself go is one of the hallmarks of being depressed and will make it easier for you to start avoiding other people.
- Go outside for at least ten minutes a day. It doesn’t matter where you go, or if you don’t go anywhere. Going outside, getting some fresh air, some sun even, can do natural miracles when battling depression.
- Exercise. You won’t feel like it, but it will be good for you and will get your blood flowing and your endorphin and dopamine (natural feel good hormones) going.
- Make a list of activities to do, hopefully some will involve other people.
- Keep a schedule, that way you can stay on track during the days you don’t feel like doing anything.
- Make a daily necessity schedule if needed that reminds you when to eat, take a bath, brush your teeth, etc. Yes, in the middle of severe depression, it’s easy to neglect all these things.
- Visit people like healthy family and friends. Once again, you will feel like isolating yourself, but having good family and friends around will help pull you out of the fog.
- Last, but not least, if all self-help fails, do not be afraid to see your doctor or a psychotherapist. 80% of people with major depression who received treatment had significant improvements.
Depression will affect us or someone we know to some degree, and it’s always good to have some idea of what you’re dealing with and how to begin fighting it.