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Depression: The Silent Killer

We at Healthy Lifestyle Academy treat depression as a very serious issue. Your mental health is just as important to us as your diet and exercise routines. We wanted to write this article to continue to raise awareness towards mental health, provide a place of information to people who do not fully understand it, and to provide a few quick tips and suggestions to help anyone struggling with mental health, in particular, depression.

What is Depression?

Depression is a debilitating mood disorder that has caused 13 percent of Americans to begin taking antidepressants. You can tell if you or someone you know may be suffering from it if you have any of these symptoms:

  • You feel hopeless and helpless
  • You lose interest in friends and hobbies
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • You feel tired all the time – no energy
  • You have trouble concentrating
  • You have trouble thinking positively
  • You are more irritable and aggressive than normal
  • Substance abuse
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Aches and pains
  • Self-loathing
  • Reckless behavior

Depression can be an absolute nightmare to some people. It can sometimes feel like you’re constantly fighting something larger than yourself. Be encouraged that there is nothing in life that is thrown at you that you can’t overcome, no matter how daunting or painful it may seem. Everyone experiences depression differently and there can be a few tricks in order to help yourself, or someone you may know. The trick is to know who you’re dealing with:

Understanding Depression in...

Men

Depression in men are often associated with the feeling of never being good enough. Men will often try to hide their depression as they see it as a sign of weakness. Men will often feel hopeless and feel like they are not good enough at anything they do. It is important if you are a man or know a man struggling with depression that you encourage them thoroughly and let them know they ARE good enough. Because men hide their feelings of depression down you may see other emotions come to the surface. These emotions may either be straightforward, or take the form of something more harmful such as substance abuse. Men can become more angry, violent, reckless in their driving/activities, and become addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other harmful things. Suicide rates in men (especially older men) are far higher than that of women. The burden of depression can be overwhelming when held inside and not dealt with. Older men can feel depressed as they lose the ability to handle daily life on their own and lose their "manliness."

If someone you know struggles with depression and is a male, remember to build them up, encourage them, and keep loved ones close as suicide should never be an option. Consider joining support groups, the biggest challenge men need to overcome is that they need to bury it and go through it alone. Get plenty of exercise and keep to a strong consistent sleep schedule. Try to keep as social as you can by going out with friends to the movies, ball games, hiking, etc, even if you don't want to. Try to confide in someone and even consider counselling as this is an option that you should never be ashamed of.

Women

Because women think differently from men, women also handle depression in a different way. Depression rates in women are nearly twice as high as they are in men, this is partly due to hormones in the body at different stages in a woman's life. When a woman is depressed, you may see a few lifestyle changes such as excessive sleeping, overeating, weight gain, and most common: guilt. Women are also far more susceptible to seasonal affective disorders(SAD). If you or a woman you know struggle with depression, encourage them that they are worth it, and help them to identify and manage the guilt and stress that they have built up in their life. There are other hormonal factors that can lead to depression in women, such as pregnancy, infertility, PMS, postpartum depression, and menopause. Other health problems such as quitting smoking, crash dieting, illness, disability, or injury can also be factors that can affect and cause depression. If you struggle with any of this, try to remember that you will need others in order to help yourself. Surround yourself with people you trust and talk about your feelings big or small. Remember to try and get outside and get a bit of sun even if its only for a little bit every day or two. Also, you may not want to, but attempt to be social with friends and by going out. Lastly, try to get plenty of sleep and exercise whenever you can.

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Teens

A lot of parents often come home to their "grumpy" teenage son or daughter. Sadly though, there may be more to it than just waking up on the wrong side of the bed. During the teenage years a person will often express negative emotions such as anger, hostility, and a short temper. Teens will often feel they are never good enough for anything and will develop a "lazy" mentality where they feel there is no point in trying anything which can lead to irregular sleep patterns. Another dangerous sign can be wanting to self harm, substance abuse, or even thoughts of suicide. Due to the struggle or growing, the hormones, and drastic changes to the body, teens are very much at risk for heavy depression. Teens can combat depression by talking about how they feel with someone and accepting that its ok to talk about how you feel and what's going on. It is also important to not isolate yourself from the rest of the world. Consider taking up hobbies, hanging out with friends (not online), and volunteering at the library or a nearby shelter to keep yourself engaged. Keep your body in good condition by exercising, eating well, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. Remember that if you have a friend in their teens going through depression, try to keep close to them, listen to them, encourage them, and to always stick with them especially through the hard times. Always be encouraged to seek professional help as there is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about when it comes to your health.

Older Adults

As discussed earlier depression can be evident in older adults due to loss of independence, physical problems, and issues related to sleep. Older people can also be plagued emotionally by their own fears related to injury, death, loneliness, sadness, abandonment, no sense of purpose, and loss of friends, family or spouse. If you or someone you know experience depression it is important to know that despite how old or young you are, your life does not have to stop. Engage in new activities and hobbies that interest you, connect with others, eat well, and focus on the things you enjoy doing. It is also imperative to create a routine for yourself as managing your sleep, diet, and daily activities will help your mental health and help you to feel better.

A depressed man sitting down covering his face with his hands

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Types of Depression

I want to take a second just to talk about the different types of depression that aren’t necessarily ranked by severity. There are a lot of factors that make up each type of depression and no type of depression is necessarily better or worse than others, it just means each type of depression is just that, a different type. Here is a summary of each:

  • Major Depression: A terrible depression that has relentless and constant symptoms. Some people may only experience this type of depression only once in their life for a brief period. Unfortunately, this is not always the case as a lot of people can also experience this as a recurring problem. Remember to speak to your doctor as to steps you can take to minimize recurrence.
  • Dysthymia (Mild Depression): This type of depression is known more for its ups and down as far as good days and bad days go. The symptoms in Dysthymia may not be as severe as major depression but can last a very long time. People who have Dysthymia feel as though they have been depressed their whole life and that their low mood is just who they are now. This type of depression is definitely treatable and if you ever suspect yourself of even mild depression you should see your doctor.
  • Bipolar: Bipolar is actually a type of depression that is known as manic depression and can be identified by the severity of the sufferers cycling mood changes. Depression can sometimes only be one of the many types of symptoms experienced by a bipolar sufferer. Someone who is bipolar may experience, loss of sleep, impulse behavior, hyperactivity, and depressive episodes. Be very careful with bipolar treatment as antidepressants can sometimes have the opposite effect.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):  If you have ever started feeling down and depressed when winter overstays its welcome then chances are you have experienced Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) before. SAD can make you feel like a completely different person depending on the season with symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness, tense, stressed, or lack of motivation. A less common SAD can also be triggered by the summer for some people but typically SAD begins in the fall or winter when the days become shorter.

Although it can be impossible to see when you are depressed, there is hope. Nobody should ever have to live their lives feeling hopeless, sad, abandoned, or alone. It is highly recommended that if you do struggle with any sort of depression that you talk to your doctor or begin seeing a counselor as your mental health has a huge connection to your physical health. Here are a few immediate self help tips for you or someone you know to begin down the right path to getting your depression free life back:

Self Help Tips for Depression

Support

The best thing you can do in your life no matter what you struggle with is to have solid support behind you. Being alone can often fuel the depression, making it even harder to want to be around others. You need to be able to break past this even if its just one small step at a time. Plan to meet with a close friend or family member for coffee even once a week in order to help get you started. They don't need to know all the answers to your problems, they just need to be willing to listen to you and encourage you. If you feel like you have no one you can turn to or trust, consider counselling as an option or try to open the doors to more social interactions to make new friends.

Exercise

Sometimes even the simple things like getting out of bed, or leaving the house can be incredibly draining. However, exercise has been shown to be more effective than antidepressants in some cases (don't stop taking your doctor prescribed medication). You don't even have to exercise for long, plan to take a short walk around your neighborhood and you could be well on your way. You don't need to spend hours or go to the gym and hurt yourself, just plan to take 30 minutes a day and stick to an activity you enjoy. Try to keep a mindful exercise that involves your full body such as jogging, dancing, or martial arts. As long as your mind is focused on your body, it will help to keep it off your depression.

Eat Well

For some, this is harder than others, but diet can play its part in helping you with your depression. Here are a few helpful suggestions on what to include and exclude in your diet:

  • Omega-3's: Help to give your mood the boost it needs. You can get this from fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines.
  • Mood Enhancing Superfoods: There are a few mood enhancing foods you can try but two I would recommend for sure would be bananas and spinach. You can eat bananas to decrease anxiety, promote alertness, and to help you feel good. Spinach is good for reducing agitation and even improving your sleep.
  • Cut Down on Junk: Although these may be delicious and although you may REALLY be craving them, junk foods will actually lower your energy and your mood. Some of these foods are french fries, pasta, baked goods, potato chips, and soft drinks.
  • Reduce Foods That Can Lower Your Mood: There are some foods out there that can adversely affect your mood such as caffeine, alcohol, preservatives and trans fats. Consumables with high amounts of these may be delicious or bring us comfort but are not recommended if you suffer from depression.

Seek Professional Help

As I have mentioned countless times in this article there is nothing to be ashamed of or to feel bad about when it comes to seeking professional help. Therapy can help you to understand your depression, what it's linked to, and how to deal with it in your life and stay motivated. Medication should only be taken in doctor recommended amounts in situations such as suicide or violence. Always try for therapy first but talk to your doctor if you feel as though you need medication. Medication is not a cure and can often come with side effects.

Here is a more in depth video on Depression for the visual learner:

Check out this Motivational Video:

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About the Writer

jayauthor-blog-resizedJay Author is passionate about sharing his knowledge about superfoods through various medium like articles, video, books etc. A majority of this information is being offered as Free for the benefit of our readers and customers. You can learn more about Jay Author's upcoming books at www.JayAuthor.com

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References:

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-signs-and-symptoms.htm

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-in-men.htm

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-in-women.htm

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/teenagers-guide-to-depression.htm

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-in-older-adults-and-the-elderly.htm

 

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