TEEN SOUL POWER
Depression - It Just Hurts So Much !
Depression happens to everyone… mostly for short periods and mostly as a result of a stressor or negative event (although in many situations people became depressed after a positive lifestyle event as well.) Understandably so. A relationship falls apart, a bad semester in school, arguments with parents, or moving away to a new home and unfamiliar environment can all be a shock to a delicately balanced system of emotions. Of course, the death of a loved one is, perhaps, one of the most distressing things we can experience - and often the most overpowering.
Certain situations and events spark depression, sadness, discouragement, hopelessness, even stress and apathy. Generally speaking, depression is a normal response to a recent stressor. They can be major events or minor. They can be negative or positive. They can be known, or even unknown.
In truth, though, while many times depression is preceded by a precipitating factor, depression can hit at anytime or anyplace, with or without a "reason." It is not uncommon to hear a friend say, "What's wrong?" only to hear the reply, "I don't know… I'm just not myself." In fact, this is much more common than one may realize.
Depression, itself, is normal, and most depression is temporary and "turns off." It is self-limiting after a certain level of intensity or time. And as other emotions such as anger and anxiety - depression may not be all bad - it can also be a helpful emotion that can spur us on to change something else in our life.
So depression, when temporary, brief and mild is seen as normal. The critical issue is a person's ability to snap out of it after a short time period. People who are experiencing a major life change can suffer either a more intense, or more chronic (longer lasting) type of depression. People who are under a great deal of stress, who are overly fatigued, bored, and especially those who use alcohol and drugs - are more vulnerable to depression, and perhaps, less likely to work through it in a shorter period of time.
Prolonged depression, however, is unhealthy and has the potential to have severe impact upon a person's life - many - if not - all areas of life. Here if it lasts too long, a person can get "stuck" in depression. It can grow beyond the normal definition of depression and become much more intense and increase in severity. It can become an illness, and intolerable. A person can become hopeless, experience insomnia (or the reverse - oversleeping), weight loss (or weight gain), restlessness, irritability, difficulty in concentrating, decrease in energy, lack of interest in usual activities, routines or hobbies, and physical symptoms such as headaches. You can begin to feel worthless, empty, generally sad, have trouble concentrating, and have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. With depression you see it start to affect your relationships. You can start to experience low self-esteem, become pessimistic about life, and yes, one can even start to think about suicide.
How to work out of depression is the key:
To work out of depression, first and foremost, experts say to try to become optimistic about life. Try to keep a positive attitude. Talk through feelings with family or friends. Maintain (or build upon) your social supports - friends and interests and hobbies. Maintaining and building your relationships and support systems is very important for fighting depression, and family and friends are very important in fighting through problems that can be augmenting the depression.
Start to exercise, this increases the neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine, which can help offset the depression. Work on restoring your emotional wellness - and most importantly - try counseling or therapy to help you restructure thoughts and activities that can help. Finally, consider speaking to your doctor about anti-depressants if these other means don't help.
A final key in off setting depression was not one recommended by an expert, but by someone who experienced depression herself. She said, for her, the key was "to keep busy." By throwing herself into her work in almost an obsessive way, she didn’t have time to feel depressed. In effect, what she did was just to ignore it instead of letting it overcome her. Easier said than done, yes, but it is one technique of "staying ahead" of the depression. Here, there is always the possibility of a "rebound effect" where depression catches up to you later - and in a more powerful way. But what she - and many thousands of others found - was that by keeping her mind and body focused on "something else" and keeping extremely busy, the depression was still lurking in the background in a haunting way but never had the chance to surface and overwhelm her. She woke one day, seven months later, and found that she had broken through the depression… it was gone and she returned to her old self, once again happy and optimistic.
The amount of social supports are important in both overcoming depression and in all of mental and emotional health. Having optimism, happiness and perseverance are important factors. The use of humor for well-being cannot be stressed enough. And attitude - specifically reframing our thoughts - can be extremely important, and this is where counseling becomes so important.
So, if you think you are depressed, ask for help as early as you can. Talk to your parents, a teacher or the school counselor, or to a mental health professional. This will help build confidence, adjust any negativity, and the support will help you better manage the moods and feelings that lead into depression. Remember too, that a doctor who thinks you need medicine to help your depression, can prescribe an antidepressant. Several have been tremendously effective in helping depression.
Finally, be good to yourself. Be patient. Don’t expect to get better immediately, but you will feel yourself improving gradually over time. Get daily exercise, get enough sleep, spend time outside in nature and in the sun, and eat -- eating healthy foods will also help you feel better. Your counselor may also teach you relaxation techniques to use when you start feeling down or upset. Spend time with supportive family members. Talk with your parents - especially grandparents who see things a little better and can give you support. And try to get out with friends who can make you laugh and try fun things that help you express yourself. Keep hope. Keep the faith!
Depression is not your fault. It is not caused by something you did wrong. In most cases it is normal and passes with time, but depression can be a real, treatable illness and health problem that can affect moods and thoughts and cause negative changes in life. Finally, know too that depression can run in families.
If you find you may have depression, stop blaming yourself for being "negative." But if it doesn't pass - especially with some active work, reach out and ask for help. Take the first step back to a well deserved happy and healthy life.
Staff's Note: Dealing with depression is a Catch-22: recovering from depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed is hard.
In fact, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like going for a walk or spending time with friends, can feel overwhelming.
While you can't just "will yourself to snap out of it", you do have more control over it than you think. For instance just moving - especially exercise (only 30 minutes per day) - is a very powerful depression fighter and one of the most important tools in getting over it. Regular exercise, in fact, can be as effective as medication for relieving depression symptoms and can help prevent relapse once you’re well.
That’s why it’s important to take action - start with small steps, and slowly but surely… build from there.
P.S.: By far the most effective way to prevent depression, is to totally avoid alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine. Research has demonstrated that these three drugs, alone, have repeatedly proven to directly cause depression and depending upon the set, setting, quantity, and frequency of use, along with genetic predisposition - can have critical and life-threatening mind-altering and mood-modifying effects.