Most often people assume that depression is a deep sense of misery. While it is prevalent in that form to some, other patients experience a sense of hopelessness and despair while some are overcome by extreme demotivation. Therefore, there is no hard and fast list containing all the traits of depression and the condition manifests in different ways in different people. The only sure-shot way of being diagnosed with depression is through the diagnosis of a clinical psychologist or similarly qualified medical and mental health expert.
One thing is an established fact: cases of depression have been progressively increasing as compared to a decade ago. One would think that the convenience and the quality of life led by the current generation would make people happy but that is not the case. In fact, it is our lifestyle that is pushing us towards depression. Those suffering from depression feel as though every single waking day is a battle. Even menial tasks such as caring for personal hygiene and eating meals according to a schedule can seem like a humungous task. This silent killer becomes worse due to the stigma associated with mental health.
Women are anyway known to be casual about their health and when it comes to conditions like depression, it goes even more unnoticed. Unfortunately, women are twice as much susceptible as men when it comes to being afflicted with depression. Additionally, one out of four women are said to have experienced a major bout of depression at some point in life! Clearly, something needs to be done to tackle depression in women. If you are looking for ways to beat depression, then you have come to the right place! Here is an overview on depression in women and how little changes in lifestyle can help you overcome depression.
Common Signs of Depression
Like I said before, depression takes different forms in different people and only a diagnosis by a medical professional can confirm or refute depression. However, the following are some of the commonest symptoms of depression:
- A persistent feeling of worthlessness, emptiness, sadness, or anxiousness.
- Lack of interest in any leisure activities, which include even sex.
- Excessive crying or an insistent mood of irritability or restlessness.
- Consistent negative thoughts, pessimistic attitude, emotions of helplessness, hopelessness, or guilt.
- Too much sleeping or too little sleeping.
- Loss or gain in appetite resulting in an increase or decrease in weight.
- Low energy mode with a constant feeling of being slowed down or fatigued.
- Difficulty in remembering things, keeping track of activities, indecisiveness, confusion, and lack of concentration.
- Chronic pains and health issues that do not respond to any kind of treatment. It includes digestive disorders, headaches, and pain.
- Unwavering thoughts of death and dying. Thoughts or acting upon thoughts of self-harm and suicide.
Depression in Women versus Depression in Men
The response to the onset of depression varies in men and women. Some points of difference include:
- Compared to men, depression in women sets in at an earlier age can last longer for prolonged durations, and women can relapse into depression due to external events that act as triggers.
- Depression in women could also be seasonal and depends on external situations such as the weather and the climate.
- While women may act on their suicidal impulses lesser than men do, women experience stronger emotions of guilt and have stronger instincts to commit suicide.
- Other mental health issues, such as eating disorders, anxiety, panic disorder, phobic systems, could also lead to depression in women.
- Menstruation cycles can result in PMS or PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder), which could eventually give rise to fluctuations in mood resulting in depression. Events like menopause can also trigger a feeling of depression.
- Much like menstruation, pregnancy can also cause depression in women. However, it also depends on factors such as the age of the pregnancy, lack of social support, marital problems, and history of PMDD or depression. Postpartum depression is also fairly common after childbirth.
Treatment of Depression in Women
Depression in women is treated through various methodologies. These could include brain stimulation through ECT, one-on-one psychotherapy, and administration of anti-depressants. The medical health expert will determine the mode of treatment which will be best suited to treat your form of depression. If you suffer from other mental health conditions then your medication will also be complemented with anti-depressants.
Ways to Beat Depression
Self-care is an important step towards switching to a healthier life. It is important to take care of your needs over everything else to overcome the oppressive feeling of depression. Some of the things that you could do to beat depression are:
- Indulge in an Activity: Exercising releases the feel-good hormones that can change your mood momentarily and make you feel blissfully happy. Physical activities are a set of powerful weapons to beat depression. Dive into the pool if you love swimming or race on the tracks if you enjoy running! If you are not a big fan of strenuous physical activity, you can indulge in something milder like participating in an aerobic workout. Exercise in any form releases endorphins, which block out the stress hormones. Furthermore, the release of serotonin is the body’s way of combating depression.
- Meditate: If for some reason you find your options restricted in exercise and physical activity, then you must give meditation a try. Soulful meditation can relax your body and tune out depression and anxiety. Interestingly, meditation also works as a preventive measure to avoid the onset of clinical depression. Thus, if you have successfully whacked the demons of depression and do not wish to relapse, then meditation may actually help you! The effects of meditation are as effective as antidepressants itself! If you are unsure about your techniques then you could join a local support group or indulge with someone that preaches meditation and wellness like Orion’s Method. Practice isolating the depressing thoughts from your mind and discarding them. Work on shielding yourself from the intrusive and negative thoughts on which depression breeds.
- Maintain a Written Record: It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the despotic thoughts initiated by depression. Thus, maintain a written record for such times. Often, you may find yourself asking questions similar to why, when, and what related to depression. Understand that knowing the answers to it is beyond your control and divert your mind by thinking of the positive highlights of your day. Start maintaining a daily diary or a mood journal that records the joy of being alive. This way, you will not take the small blessings for granted and would actually give them due consideration. The positive energy of a gratitude journal can help you combat the fatigue of depression.
- Create Small but Achievable Goal List: Let’s face it, depression is rough. It takes away the will for even the most basic of tasks like getting a shower or having a full meal. Thus, it is important to maintain a list of goals and a supplementary list of accomplishments. Knowing that you are carrying out your basic duties and caring for yourself will drastically boost your self-esteem and help you beat depression. Write down a list of all the measures that you have taken to ensure good mental health. No matter how small or big your goal might be, list them and follow up with whether you were able to achieve it. Counting your blessings and being grateful for it actually works wonders!
- Join a Laughter Club: Laughing would be the last thing that would be on your mind when you are battling depression. In fact, some of the funniest entertainers such as Robin Williams, Stephen Colbert, and Ben Stiller (to name a few) have been tormented by depression. However, the power of true laughter cannot be undermined. Laughter and humor have been used for times immemorial to ease the pain of those suffering from prolonged illnesses. Thus, take some time out to laugh with your loved ones! Watch funny videos and cartoons with your kids and you will be rewarded with beta-endorphins and human growth hormone, which will aid alleviate depression and bolster your immunity.
- Follow a Healthy Diet: A healthy body will house a healthy brain. Thus, take the time to draft a healthy diet and stick with it. Kick-start your day with a power packed healthy breakfast and you will have the energy to make it through the day with a smile on your face! Consuming a healthy diet will result in your intestines releasing serotonin, which will make you feel better. Additionally, it will open the gates for a healthier lifestyle eliminating any illnesses, which can add to your depression. Avoid foods that contain sugars and gluten as they can stimulate inflammation and worsen depression. Follow a low carb, high fat diet to beat depression!
- Get Enough Sun: Never underestimate the goodness of the purifying rays of the sun. Bathing in the sun will help in regulating the body’s circadian rhythm, which is the body’s internal biological clock. Resetting the circadian rhythm will influence a deep night’s sleep, which controls the brain’s activity and hormones produced. If you live in areas when natural sunlight is hard to come by then invest in a moderately powered sun lamp. External conditions such as persistently rainy days or harsh winters can contribute to the feeling of hopelessness. Thus, a few minutes or hours in the sun’s light can undo the depressing effects of the gloomy weather.
- Sleep Tight: Speaking of circadian rhythm and sleep, getting a good night’s rest is essential to help those suffering from depression. Sleep deprivation and insomnia can result in emotions of feeling dazed and confused, which interferes with our thinking ability. It enhances the ill effects of fatigue and triggers episodes of mood disorders. Poor quality sleep can worsen the symptoms of depression. Follow calming rituals before bed to help you sleep well qualitatively and quantitatively. Power off all electronic devices and sleep in a dark room. If need be, make use of melatonin to induce sleep.
- Seek Social Support: Depression can make you feel isolated, unloved, and worthless. The best way to overcome these deadweight emotions is by hanging out with friends and family. Spending time with your loved ones will initiate the release of hormones that help you bond with those around you. This helps in the reduction of stress hormones and alleviates anxiety. The rush of progesterone in the body is highly beneficial for women who are suffering from depression. This will help beat the negative emotions brought forth by depression. You may also join support groups of people suffering from the same kind of monsters. Thus, you can collectively seek support from each other and offer support to those battling depression. Becoming a part of a supportive network of people will boost your connections with people and help avoid the onset and recurrence of depression.
- Make and Follow a Routine: Setting a routine is a definite way to counter depression. Do not shy away from your daily responsibilities and chalk out a schedule that you intend to stick to. Set out a fixed time to sleep and wake up followed by carrying out all your daily chores. The worst thing depression does to you is take away the organization of your life. Stay involved and follow the usual routine to experience a sense of structure and accomplishment. However, feel free to break out from the monotonous routine and have fun by trying out something new. Push yourself out of your comfort zone to enjoy the rush of dopamine in your system. Sign up for classes to learn new skills, sit on a park bench and read a book, volunteer at local NGOs, try out a new recipe – there are so many ways to enjoy life!
Remember, these are no substitute to the medication prescribed to you by the medical practitioner. In fact, these tips are more or less complementary to your medical course and will make them more effective. Follow these steps to overcome depression and lead a happier and more meaningful life.