I think one of the great ironies in life is that when you feel depressed, the most common advice you will get is to start exercising, eat well and engage with people and activities that you enjoy. There’s just one problem, that is usually the last thing you feel like doing when you’re depressed. If the advice for depression were to sit on the couch, eat terrible food, do nothing, sleep all the time and avoid everything, it would be much easier to implement.
The likelihood of suffering from depression seems to depend on a culmination of your gender, family history, and life experiences. Women are affected by depression at almost twice the rate of Men; One factor for such a skewed statistic is that women will experience more stress and negativity. From a familial point of view, people have the genetic coding for either a predisposition to depression, a resilience to depression or a combination of the two. Finally, the time frame in which adverse life events occur is also necessary. Generally, multiple negative life events occurring within one year are likely to create a “tipping point.” We each have our threshold, which will depend on the circumstances, but there is only so much we can each tolerate before depression sets in.
How is it diagnosed?
Depression is a common mood disorder characterised by feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and persistent feelings of sadness for greater than two weeks and represents a change from previous functioning.
The American Psychiatric manual, the DSM-5, defines depression as having any 5 of the eight listed symptoms given below throughout a two-week period. A diagnosis of depression would also require that one of the five listed symptoms would be either a depressed mood or a lack of interest in life’s activities.
- Depressed mood, most of the day, nearly every day
- Disinterest in all or almost all the activities in a day, nearly every day
- Significant weight loss or weight gain depending on a decrease or increase in appetite almost every day
- A reduction of activity, both physically and mentally
- Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
- Reduced ability to think or concentrate
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide without any plan
- Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
What types of depression are there?
There are many different forms of depression, the most notable being:
- Substance-induced mood disorder, as its name suggests, results from either intoxication or withdrawal from a substance
- Mood disorder due to a general medical condition such as hypothyroidism
- Bipolar disorder, involving extreme changes in mood and behaviour
- Major depressive disorder involves two or more major depressive exercises
- Dysthymic disorder is regarded as having a depressed mood more often than not for at least two years.
- Adjustment disorder with depressed mood is probably the most common form of depression related to overwhelming emotional or psychological stress.
- Postpartum depression (or Post Natal Depression)
- Seasonal affective disorder
What treatment is available?
For any medical condition, there are a plethora of treatments available depending on the type of depression that you may be suffering. Implementing self-help strategies such as diet and exercise sounds like an easy option to address these, but at the same time, it can be challenging to get started on this, and it will also depend on what type of depression you have and what causes it. Regardless, if you can implement one or more lifestyle changes, research would tell us that it will at least minimise the impact of depression. An excellent place to start would be to choose one habit that you can change quickly and progress to another once you have successfully implemented a change into your daily routine.
Other treatment options include medication, such as anti-depressants, which are monitored through your GP or Psychiatrist. Anti-depressants increase the activity of serotonin, which is often referred to as the “feel good” hormone. While successful for some people, as many as 50% of patients will not show improvement on anti-depressants.
Lastly, the most common and successful treatment for depression falls under the umbrella of talking therapy. Counselling, or talking therapy, is considered the most helpful intervention if the therapist is experienced and can be trusted. A Psychologist has specialist training to implement talking therapy approaches such as Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or Mindfulness to help you overcome your depression. Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to identify irrational or negative thought patterns and replace them with more constructive ways of thinking. ACT, as its name suggests, is centred around staying in the present and accepting thoughts and feelings without judgement.
Overcoming Depression: Lifestyle Changes That Can Make a Difference
Depression can be a debilitating condition that can affect every aspect of your life. While there are many medical treatments available, self-help strategies such as diet and exercise can also play a crucial role in managing the symptoms of depression. The key is to start small and gradually build up to larger lifestyle changes.
By making just one positive change, you can begin to see improvements in your mood, energy levels, and overall well-being. And with the right support and guidance, you can achieve even more. If you’re looking for personalized support in managing your depression, contact Point Cook Physical today for counselling. Our counselors can provide you with the tools and resources you need to take control of your health and live your best life.