Depression involves sadness, pessimism, a preoccupation with personal problems, and perhaps feeling sorry for one's self, anguish, crying, and hopelessness. Depressed people often lose interest in many activities and social contacts because of loss of pleasure in and enthusiasm for their usual activities. They may become apathetic or socially withdrawn. Low energy, chronic tiredness, excessive sleeping, and insomnia are common. Other possible symptoms include poor appetite, heavy eating, weight loss or gain, feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness, anxiety, regrets, decreased productivity, poor concentration, or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. Four out of five cases of severe depression clear up without treatment within six to nine months, but half of the people with severe depression experience it again later.
Remember sadness is always temporary. This, too, shall pass.Can't, If, When, and But never did anything.Trials give you strength, sorrows give understanding and wisdom.
People often become depressed about marital, romantic, or family problems. For example, one study found an unhappy marriage increased the risk of clinical depression 25 times over untroubled marriages. A personal loss often triggers depression: divorce, separation, loss of a job, the end of a love relationship, physical or mental problems from old age, the death of a loved one, etc. Many stressful events or major changes may also help bring on depression. Going away to college or moving far away from family and friends after getting married may lead to depression. No matter how much you wanted to have a child, the resulting loss of freedom may cause depression. When children grow up and leave home, you may become depressed. Retirement can lead to depression because of loss of work activities to fill the day and loss of friendships with coworkers.
Depression may occur without any loss or great stress to trigger it, however. Personal problems often lead to depression. The chronic use of alcohol or other drugs often leads to mood swings, personal problems, and depression. Using alcohol or other drugs to improve your mood is especially risky because addictive substances often intensify pre-existing mood or personality problems. Even prescribed medications may lead to severe depression.
There are many effective ways to overcome depression. Fortunately, we can control our thoughts and feelings much more than most people realize. With enough work and effort, you can change habitual thoughts and feelings. First, however, if you are on any medicines, check with your doctor to see if a medicine may be causing your depression. A surprising number of medicines can do this, including many tranquilizers or sleeping pills, many high blood pressure medicines, hormones such as oral contraceptives, some anti-inflammatory or anti-infection drugs, some ulcer medicines, etc. Changing your prescribed medications may be all you need to eliminate depression.
Some severely depressed people need medicines to control their depression, but most people can conquer depression by following the suggestions in this excerpt. Even those people on prescribed medicines for depression will benefit from the suggestions here. If you feel severely depressed, most psychiatrists will use trial and error to find a drug that will help you. But certain blood and urine tests can detect biological depression, pinpoint which drugs are most likely to be effective, and reduce the risk of depression recurring by determining when the biological imbalance ends. For the fastest, most effective treatment of severe depression, find a psychiatrist who will use the dexamethasone suppression test (DST), the thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) stimulation test, and the MHPG urine test. In both the DST and TRH stimulation test, the psychiatrist administers a hormone and monitors your body's response with blood tests. Using these tests finds imbalances and predicts the effectiveness of antidepressants. The MHPG urine test helps in choosing among antidepressants. The tricyclic dose-prediction test, involving a test dose of antidepressant and a blood test 24 hours later, predicts therapeutic dose, minimizing dose changes and side effects. When psychiatrists prescribe an antidepressant, they should order one or more blood tests to make sure your blood level of the drug is in the effective therapeutic range.
Perhaps one of the most common reasons for depression is a lack of enough interests and activities. A small number of them tends to become routine and often boring. Interests and activities are very important in mental health, contributing to self-esteem and happiness. They give satisfaction, help make you feel good about yourself, and keep your mind off problems and negative thoughts and emotions. Simply cultivating them can sometimes cure depression, grief, addiction, explosive anger, anxiety, excessive worrying, or guilt, especially if you do the activities whenever you feel the negative emotion. They are also important social skills that give you pleasant and interesting things to talk about, improving your conversation skills and helping in making and keeping friends. Children with many interests and activities are less likely to have behavior problems, including alcohol or drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, violence, and crime later on. Their wide variety of interests keep them busy and out of trouble and naturally build different circles of friends, so they are less likely to be influenced by the wrong kind of friend.
There are three main kinds of helpful interests and activities: pleasurable, constructive, and altruistic. Of course, pleasurable activities give us enjoyment. We may do them just for fun or relaxation. Constructive activities produce or accomplish something and give a sense of pride. Examples include getting things done around the house, working on a project, practicing a skill, or studying a subject that interests you. Altruistic activities help other people. Examples include teaching a friend a craft, helping sick or old people, or volunteer work. Altruistic activities give companionship, gratitude from other people, and a sense of pride. Helping others is one of the best ways to lift yourself spiritually. Helping less fortunate people can also give a healthy sense of perspective. For example, your personal problems may appear trivial after a day volunteering with mental patients or dying cancer patients.
Having only a few interests and activities doesn't help very much in fighting boredom, depression, or other problems. You can best improve mental health by developing and practicing many of them until you do them well. Truly happy and productive people love life and often enjoy 50 to 100 of them. Strive toward the ideal of the Renaissance man-a well-rounded person with broad social, cultural, and intellectual interests and skills. You may find it difficult to think and come up with new interests and activities. We often forget many we once enjoyed or we were once curious about. Depressed people are especially likely to have forgotten previous interests and activities. Go to the library and ask the librarian for help in finding a list of interests and activities, or use the list in the book Family Desk Reference to Psychology.
Of course, depressed people often find it very difficult to motivate themselves and often reject new interests and activities without trying them or after one attempt. But even happy people don't enjoy interests without first cultivating them. We often don't enjoy a new activity right away. Instead, it may take time to become accustomed to a new activity and for interest and pleasure to grow. You may need to learn to relax in the new situation or to develop some expertise or skill before you can learn to enjoy it. Don't reject new activities before giving them a chance. Try any new activity at least several times, with an open mind. Motivate yourself with rewards for engaging in new activities and getting things done. You might decide you must buy your groceries and finish all your laundry before you take a nap. If you smoke cigarettes, you might avoid smoking until you try a new activity or accomplish something. Ask friends and family members to help motivate you, too.
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