Depression is tough. It will leave its victim feeling despaired, unmotivated, unproductive, and alone. Depression has been linked to many tremendous issues such as social isolation, loss of employment, increased pain and suffering, and loss of life. Depression is something that nobody wants to go through, yet it is one of the most common mood disorders. We know that there are ways to treat depression, but are there ways to prevent it from coming back?
What Is Depression?
Depression is a severe mood disorder in which the symptoms last more than two weeks. The symptoms of depression can vary depending on the person. The most severe symptoms of depression affect how the sufferer thinks, feels, and lives their everyday lives. Depression can lead to negative thoughts and feelings, suffering relationships, troubles at work, and several other problems.
The Most Common Symptoms of Depression
While everybody will experience negative thoughts and emotions, there is typically an external cause. The sadness will naturally fade within two weeks. Depression symptoms are severe symptoms that last for more than two weeks and typically cannot be explained by any external factor. While depression can show itself in a variety of different ways, some of the most common symptoms of depression are:
Extremely negative thoughts and emotions: Including feelings of sadness, despair, hopelessness, and worthlessness.
Changes in sleeping patterns: This symptom can vary among different people, with some struggling to get out of bed and others struggling to fall asleep.
Changes in appetite: This symptom can also vary among different people, sometimes showing up through overeating and others showing up through under eating.
Feelings of lethargy or lack of motivation: Depression can leave its victims feeling unmotivated to do even the simplest of tasks.
Feeling like your thoughts are foggy: Depression can cloud your mind, making it hard to concentrate or remember things.
Loss of interest in the things you love: Whether it be hobbies that used to bring you joy or friends you used to love being around, depression can make you lose interest in living your life.
Social withdrawal: Somebody suffering from depression may find themselves pulling away from friends and family.
Thoughts of death or suicide: The most dangerous of symptoms experienced with depression are the dark thoughts of dying. If you are having thoughts of death r suicide, reach out to a medical professional right away.
How to Keep Depression at Bay
In some cases, although not all, depression can be prevented with a few lifestyle changes.
Take care of your physical health
Your physical and mental health are more closely related than you may believe. If your physical health is struggling, so will your mental health and vice versa. There are a few ways you can take care of your physical health, such as:
Eating nutritious foods No, this doesn’t mean you can only eat salads every day for the rest of your life. You can still enjoy the foods you love, just search for ways to add some nutrition to those meals!
Moving your body Our bodies are meant to move. You don’t have to have workout intensely every single day. Something as simple as a walk or a quick stretch can also have your body feeling healthy! Some other great ways to move your body in a fun and enjoyable manner are to go for a swim, join a sports team, or attend a fitness class.
Getting outside Soaking in some sunshine or a swift breeze is a great way to squeeze in some vitamin D. Getting outside can be very physically and emotionally invigorating.
Get enough sleep Sleep is essential for your physical and mental well-being, providing benefits to your mood, immune system, mental clarity, and overall health.
Log out of your social media Social media has truly taken over the world. Social media isn’t necessarily all bad, considering it is a great way to keep up with our friends and family. It does, however, have its downfalls, just like most things. Social media can, at times, be a mind-numbing way that we can zone out. I’m sure that the majority of us have found ourselves scrolling aimlessly for hours through all of our Twitter or Instagram feeds.
Studies have found a link to social network scrolling and symptoms of depression, as well as low self-esteem. While you don’t have to avoid social media at all costs, you may benefit from taking a break from it every once in a while. Many newer phones have the option to limit your screen time. You could also log out of your social media app, forcing yourself to be more mindful every time you log on.
Meditation can provide the mind with many benefits. Studies have found that meditation can be a significantly helpful lifestyle habit to incorporate in both the treatment and prevention of depression. There are tons of resources for beginning your practice of meditation, including books, apps, YouTube videos, blogs, and podcasts.
Build a strong support network
Surrounding yourself with people you love and trust is extremely beneficial to your mental health and well-being. Studies have implied that having an adequate social support system can act as a protective factor of depression and has been linked to better long-term outcomes after depression episodes.
Try to limit stress
Stress has many negative impacts on our mental health and well-being. Sometimes, though, stress is inevitable. We can fall into a period of life full of events and deadlines. Learning how to cope with stress will be extremely beneficial in keeping depression at bay. A few strategies to cope with stressful times in life are to meditate, avoid overbooking yourself, accepting things you can’t control, and giving yourself a break.
Reduce your use of depressants such as drugs and alcohol
Drugs and alcohol have been linked to depression many times. Limiting your drug and alcohol use as much as possible will be extremely helpful in preventing depression.
Practice what you learned in therapy
In therapy, you can learn coping mechanisms to recognise and change negative thinking patterns that may trigger your depression. Try to implement these practices when necessary.
Reach out to your therapist
When things are getting tough, and you feel your mental health slipping, reaching out to your therapist can provide you with the solution you may need to prevent falling into depression. Whether you have experienced depression before or are trying to prevent it, seeing a therapist regularly can help you work through issues, learn coping mechanisms, and recognise negative thought patterns.
Looking after yourself gives you the best foundation for keeping depression at bay, but sometimes it's just not enough. Talking to someone can be a massive relief as it often illustrates that the thought patterns are common amongst all of us and they don't represent the true reality.
Unfortunately in todays world it's easy to be isolated and not all of us will have a close friend or family member that we feel comfortable opening up to. If this is you then talking to a therapist can help fill that gap. A good therapist will guide you and point out where your thought patterns might not make sense, this enables you to start chipping away at them and improving your mental health.