Man with depression

Is this depression?

Depression is such a loaded word. Our society throws the term “depression” around for everything ranging from a brief episode of sadness to a formal clinical diagnosis of a major depressive disorder. If you want to get technical, here is an extensive reference for the range of clinical depression diagnoses. 

Here are the basics:

Depression can be chemical or situational. Bi-Polar Disorder causes depression by creating a chemical imbalance in the brain.  A recently failed relationship or the loss of employment can trigger situational depression. Your mind and body don’t differentiate between the two types of depression. People react differently to depression. A common misconception is that depression always includes visible sadness. That’s not always the case.  Many times the main outward symptom is apathy or lack of motivation. Regardless of the causes or the symptoms, being depressed impairs our ability to have a happy and fulfilling life.

If you think you are depressed, please seek out therapy. You deserve a better quality of life. Find yourself a quality therapist and together the two of you can fight for your happiness. Some people with depression find it hard to get motivated to go to counseling. Online counseling meets you wherever you are.

If you are having suicidal thoughts PLEASE call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

What can I try on my own?

If you think you suffer from depression, but aren’t ready to try counseling…

Try the standard pillars of good mental health:

  • Exercise – It doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. Exercise can be walking around the block, taking stairs instead of elevators, parking at the back of a parking lot and walking to the building, etc. You can hide exercise in everyday activities – just keep making choices to move your body. 
  • Better Food Choices – We can’t agree on what healthy eating means but lower your processed foods and increase your whole foods. The chemicals in processed food and sugar probably cause problems in the body, which will affect mental health. The side effect of dehydration is fatigue so plenty of water will give you energy.
  • Sleep – Try to get 7+ hours of sleep a night. This is important to make as a priority since it sets the stage for the next day.
  • Good support system – Spend time with people who care about you. Let people lift you up and bring you some joy. If you continually don’t feel good after spending time with someone or a group of people, think about why you don’t feel good. It’s ok to break up with people who no longer provide you with anything positive. People should at least be neutral and not bring us down.
  • A hobby that we lose track of time in – Find a hobby or activity to get lost in. It’s important to shut our brains off and be in the moment.
  • Acceptance and gratitude liberate us. If we accept people and situations as they are, we don’t get so disappointed. If we look for things and people to be grateful for, we don’t have as much time to spend on looking for what is wrong.

Technology can play a role in depression

It’s important to pay attention to how we use technology. The technology of today allows us to easily connect with people anywhere in the world, but it also allows us to bury ourselves in a flood of information about other people’s lives. Continually checking out of our own life to watch other people’s lives is a form of avoidance. Also, it can be hard to resist the temptation compare our lives against the way others portray themselves on social media. Technology also delivers a real-time feed of anxiety inducing headlines, which can feed into an existing feeling of hopelessness.

Having moments to enjoy is important to good mental health. If you aren’t feeling joy when using technology, reduce your screen-time and find something else you enjoy to spend your time on. Maybe read less news and add more uplifting things to your social media to make the online experience more positive.

Many of us have jobs that involve staring at a computer screen all day. It’s not surprising to find that can condition us to think that staring at screens during all of our waking hours is the new normal.  It’s not. Don’t miss out on life because you spend all your free time on technology. Life is a participation sport.

Counseling can help with depression

If you think you are depressed, please consider therapy.  Both online and face-to-face therapy are effective at helping manage depression.  Sometimes depression makes it hard to get out of bed, leave the house, or generally get motivated to do anything that you don’t absolutely have to do.  Online therapy can work well in these low-motivation situations because your therapist is always as close as your tablet, smartphone, or computer. Therapists understand depression, won’t judge you, and can help you even if you can’t bring yourself to show up at their office. Your therapist can also help determine whether your depression symptoms might respond well to medication.

Is this Depression?

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