Written By: Prudence Ndzinisa
African Christian College student
According to the Help Guide Organization, feeling ‘down’ or numb now and again is normal, but if it is persistent with emotions of hopelessness and despair … you might be having depression. When depressed, know that you are not alone because depression is a common ‘weed’ that is continuously experienced by most people worldwide.
Moreover, it makes it hard for us to enjoy life and everything can feel as if it is a burden which one cannot escape. Depression can present itself in many forms, and its intention is to make one’s life miserable. Most of the time people do not recognise depression when it has set its foot in their homes. No matter how helpless you might be feeling, you can be victorious by being educated about depression and learning new ways of coping.
In most cases, people will not exactly report that they are feeling depressed but they will only complain of the symptoms of depression. Feelings of depression vary depending on the individual and the environment. The Life Solutions-Life Coaching and the Help Guide Organization outline a number signs, including:
- Extreme tiredness
- Regular headaches
- Sleep apnoea – an inability to sleep through the night or experiencing disturbed sleep
- Constant worry/anxiety – feeling fearful of what might happen
- Loss of confidence
- Feeling tense and edgy all of the time
- Loss of energy
- Inability to concentrate – trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things
- Cannot be bothered to do anything – loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Inability to make friends or socialise with others – socially withdrawn
- Feeling suicidal – “life is meaningless, what is there to live for?”
- Inability to complete a task
- Feeling restless and doing things at a much slower pace
- Drug use and or heavy drinking – reckless behaviours
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
- Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
- These symptoms do not just appear out of the blue; there is a cause for every symptom. It is not known exactly what causes depression; however, according to the Alianz Australia Insurance group, depression has a lot of factors that can contribute to its development and they vary for different individuals. Some of the causes of depression are:
- Loneliness and isolation
- Lack of social support
- Recent stressful life experiences – death of a loved one
- Family history of depression – genetic
- Marital or relationship problems
- Financial problems
- Early childhood trauma or abuse
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Unemployment or under-employment
- Health problems or chronic pain
- Identifying the symptoms and causes of depression is a step towards recovery, but there are certain things that you should consider when you want to manage your depression before it gets any worse.
Trying to make yourself feel better and stabilise your mood can be very challenging. Therefore, it would be better if you can break down your treatment goals into smaller goals and try to do a little more each day. Melinda Smith, Robert Segal, and Jeanne Segal advise: “Feeling better takes time, but you can get there by making positive choices for yourself.”
When you know you are depressed, according to Melinda Smith et al. and the Life Solutions-Life Coaching organization it is important that you:
- Reach out to others – even when feel like being alone or do not want to be a burden to others. Having someone who will listen and be non-judgemental is a very important aspect of overcoming depression. However, you need to talk to someone you can trust.
- Don’t be ashamed – “We are all fallible human beings, and just because you are suffering depression does not make you insane or mad, even though you may feel like you are going insane at times.”
- Don’t use alcohol and drugs – this may make you sleep better but if consumed too much it can lead to addiction which in turn creates more problems.
- Get moving – you should: exercise regularly, get enough sleep, do what you enjoy, keep busy, live a purposeful life, make a commitment and stick to it, be informed, manage your finances wisely, spend your time wisely, enjoy the present moment (stop worrying about the bad things that might happen), don’t compare yourself to others, and count your blessings (stop worrying about the things you don’t have, but thank God for what you already have).
Sometimes depression cannot be overcome alone and we might try to offer help, but we all need to know that the person who is depressed doesn’t need “superheroes who will desperately try to convince him (or her) that all is well. Nor does he (or she) needs people to become angry or depressed. Rather, he (or she) needs loyal friends who will patiently, consistently, and hopefully love him (or her). He (or she) needs people who will allow him (or her) to hurt and to grieve and to experience his (or her) loss until he (or she) is ready to move on.” – Juanita R. Ryan