If you're having trouble sleeping at night, losing or gaining weight either because you've lost your appetite or have too good an appetite when you're upset, feeling really sad, hopeless or down on yourself and/or frequently tired, withdrawn and crying, chances are you are clinically depressed and should do something about it.
Before talking about the treatment of depression, however, it is useful to distinguish between the normal ups and downs most of us experience periodically and serious clinical depression that should be treated professionally. Some people who are temporarily discouraged or down in the dumps described themselves as depressed, yet display only a few, if any, of the symptoms of clinical depression: sleep difficulties, appetite and weight change, motor retardation, chronic fatigue, withdrawal from social contacts, depressed mood and behavior, self-blame and a pessimistic outlook for the future.
But if you do display many of these symptoms, I would encourage you to do some things to help yourself feel more comfortable.
First, realize that your depression will eventually pass. No matter how "blue" or sad or depressed you feel, chances are that after a period of time you will feel better.
Research studies have found that 70% to 95% of all depressed persons eventually make a complete recovery, with younger persons having a better chance of doing so.
Your depression is probably caused in part by the fact that you are telling yourself you will never get better, certainly a most depressing thought for anyone to have!
Second, realize also that because of your depression you are probably not thinking as clearly as you ordinarily would and so shouldn't make any hasty or rash decisions you might later regret. Because of your depression you may be seeing events, yourself and your future in a much more negative and pessimistic light than is actually the case and so can't make the most rational decisions at this time.
If, for example, you decide in the midst of a depression to divorce your spouse because you feel he (or she) doesn't love you anymore, that you are not worth loving, you might be making a serious mistake.
Third, even though you might feel tired and not want to do much of anything, force yourself to do something active and constructive no matter how small or trivial. Go for a walk, work on your favorite hobby, do those chores, visit a friend, or go out to a movie. Don't sit around brooding about worries that make you depressed.
The depressive symptoms of motor retardation, chronic fatigue, withdrawal, and indecision have to be actively combated in order to ensure your recovery from your depression.
And the depressive symptoms of self-blame and pessimism have to be actively combated as well. Often the depressed person thinks of himself (or herself) as a bad, useless, worthless, miserable creature, and sees little hope for future change or improvement. Needless to say, such thoughts would be depressing for anyone.
Finally, talk to someone about your depressive feelings and thoughts: your spouse, a friend, your minister or priest. Realize you don't have to be alone in your suffering unless you choose to. And if your depression persists or is really making you uncomfortable, see your physician or a mental health professional about treatment.
The nature of the professional treatment you will receive will depend on the cause and severity of your depression. If the treating professional believes your depression is severe enough or due to biochemical or genetic factors, he will probably recommend some type of anti-depressant medication. If psychotherapy with or without medication - is recommended, it would probably be a good idea to be seen with your spouse or family, especially if your depression is the result of marital or family problems.
But whatever its cause, your depression has probably affected your family, so it would help them, and you, if they had a better understanding of its nature and causes.
In short, effective treatment for depression is available for most people who are willing to seek it and motivated to work on reducing their emotional pain.
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