Depression is a mental state that is becoming increasingly common, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) identifying depression as one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Unfortunately, this doesn’t even take into account the experience of depressive symptoms or unreported cases, which are often overlooked!
With this in mind, it is highly likely that we have all experienced a symptom or understanding of elements of depression. Here on GetPsyched, we have already released YouTube videos and blogs mentioning depression and depressive symptoms, but what is it actually like to have depression, and what can we do about it?
It is firstly important to remember that there is a difference between low mood and depression. Often we use the word depression in conversation to describe something upsetting, but this can give the wrong impression that depression is anything related to sadness or low mood.
However, this an important difference between depression and low mood. Depression is a recognised mental health disorder and is more accurately described as a lasting sense of unhappiness. Those with depression often feel emotionally numb, and no longer able to find joy in the hobbies they used to love.
For example, a musician may no longer find joy in playing their instrument. In the novel “Bell Jar”, the author Sylvia Plath describes the experience of depression to being trapped inside a bell jar, cut off from the rest of the world, which further highlights the sense of numbness stemming from depression.
An often-overlooked factor of depression can be the physical symptoms that occur when experiencing mental difficulties. chronic fatigue, headaches, feeling unwell and even skin irritations can all be physical representations of depression, and should not be overlooked. We often do not consider our mental health resulting in these physical symptoms.
So what can we do? If you suspect that yourself or someone close to you has depression or depressive symptoms, we have created a list of possible steps that may help, or alleviate some symptoms.
This can be through professional therapy or counselling. However, if this is not available, we also recommend talking to family and friends that you trust. Another step would be to utilize free telephone and helpline services. Services such as the Samaritans or NHS helpline can be positive steps to beginning to get help. Furthermore, studies show that talking and speaking about mental health can be a powerful tool in the treatment of depression.
Volunteer or help others
Whilst the process of helping others is often related to overall wellbeing, we could postulate that giving back to your community can instil a sense of satisfaction and self-worth, which could aid in easing depressive symptoms! However, this is not completely backed by evidence yet, which is something we want to acknowledge on GetPsyched!
Exercise and Diet
The quality of your diet and your mental health can be incredibly beneficial. Eating quality healthy foods can increase improvements in depressive symptoms, with some studies finding correlations between poor diet and depression. However, it is important to remember that excessive exercise regimes or strict dieting may even exacerbate depressive symptoms if done incorrectly. So just trying to eat high-quality nutritious foods and engaging in the recommended amount of physical activity may be beneficial in elevating some depressive symptoms.
Do a life assessment
Lastly, it may be beneficial to assess your relationship with work, relationships, and purposeful activities. Sometimes depression can be used as a signal that something in our lives just isn’t right. Taking a look at these areas of your life may help identify where you may be struggling with stress, unhappiness, burnout or low self-esteem.
Being able to identify difficulties in these areas can help in understanding what parts of life are lowering your quality of life and worsening our mental health. Having satisfaction and purpose in areas of your life is also found to improve the overall quality of life and mental health, so where possible, try to increase the activities in your life that are enjoyable and give you a sense of purpose!
We hope that this blog post has given you some insights into what depression is actually like, and gives you some possible ways to alleviate some of the symptoms! Is there anything you want to add that you feel we have missed? Or is there anything you want to discuss in this post? Please leave us a comment or message. We would love to hear from you!