Understanding the Difference Between Sadness & Depression
It’s important to understand the difference between experiencing normal emotions and navigating the symptoms of depression. Feeling depressed is a phrase that a lot of people throw around casually in conversation to describe negative feelings. An unhappy event has occurred. You’ve gotten some unhappy news or someone might make a not-so-nice comment to you. These things happen throughout our lives and a common response might be to say something like “now I’m depressed”. Or “I feel depressed.” The feelings of sadness, being disappointed or unhappy are normal natural responses to sad or unhappy times. When the circumstances change, so do our moods. But when those feelings are deep sadness that persists and never goes away, there is a cause for concern.
What is Depression?
Depression, also called Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression is characterized by severe symptoms that affect how someone feels, thinks, behaves and sleeps. Navigating depression can cause major disruptions in going to work and daily activities.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the US and can begin at any age. Environmental, biological and genetic are all risk factors that play a role in depression.
Depression & Other Illnesses
Navigating depression during middle age and older adults can occur alongside other diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s. The medications prescribed for these diseases often have side effects which can cause depression. Treating depression in these occurrences can become quite complicated. Questions need to be asked about the patient’s family history and lifestyle to determine if the depression is related to their other illnesses or independent from it.
Treatments in Navigating the Symptoms of Depression
No two people are alike in the way they should be treated when navigating depression. There are several ways to treat depression and the sooner treatment is started the more effective it seems to be.
Psychotherapies such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) can be used to help navigate depression. These types of therapies can help patients learn how to think differently and create new habits to help combat depression.
Medications such as Antidepressants along with talk therapy are the most common ways to treat depression. Antidepressants do take time to work and should be taken for a minimum period of 4-6 weeks to see positive changes in mood, appetite, sleep etc. Sometimes once positive changes are noticed people try to stop taking their medication. DO NOT stop taking your Antidepressants without consulting your doctor. They will help you navigate the process of terminating medications.
Brain Stimulation Therapy
Electroconvulsive Therapy or ECT can be used when both talk therapy and medication have not been effective. The treatment is usually 3 times per week for several weeks. Although ECT is painless, the patient is put under brief anesthesia to help them relax prior to the procedure. Some side effects are noted such as: Disorientation, confusion and memory loss. However, these side effects are short term.
What Can I Do Besides Treatment When Navigating Depression?
When navigating depression there are plenty of things you can do at home on a daily basis such as:
Stay active with regular exercise
Daily spend some time relaxing outside (fresh air and vitamin d are important when dealing with depression)
Make meaningful connections with people on a daily basis
Eat at regular intervals to keep blood sugar stable and avoid food related mood swings
Get proper sleep and rest for your body
Be gentle with yourself and do only what you can.
If you or someone you know is dealing with the symptoms of depression contact us at West Wellness and we can better help you navigate depression.
National Institute of Mental Health, July 2022, “Depression”.https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression
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