As one of the leading mental illnesses in the world, depression can cause disruptions to daily life that are incredibly difficult to overcome. Depression often lies just below the surface of our day to day experience, sneaking up from it’s hiding just below the surface to suck away the joy and destroy motivation. Unfortunately, mental health issues are far different from physical illnesses that may go away with time.
In recent studies, the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that depression impacts individuals in such numbers that it has become the second leading reason that is reported in leave requests and disability applications. Even the staggering numbers – 15 million in the US alone are diagnosed with depression – are but the iceberg’s tip when it comes to those suffering.
The impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic have only exacerbated the effects of depression on individuals. Shutdowns, closures, and constant fear of the unknown surrounding the virus have led many to withdraw from friends and family and fall into an even deeper illness state. For those struggling with depression at any level, knowing how to find hope and help may seem miles away.
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Gauging Your Own Struggle
One of the first steps for finding help and hope in the midst of your struggle is knowing whether or not you are suffering – and to what extent. While nearly everyone will have moments of difficulty and reduced moods, feelings of sadness or loss of interest that last over two weeks may be a sign of a more serious issue of depression.
Gauge your own current situation by asking yourself if you have struggled with the following symptoms consistently over the past two weeks:
- Feeling sad or a sense of being emotionally “empty”
- A sense of being helpless or hopeless in your current situation
- A loss in interest or passion in activities that you love
- Appetite changes
- Consistent feelings of nausea, pain, or headaches
- A desire to sleep too much, or symptoms of insomnia
- Friends and family notice you are withdrawing
- Increased stress or anxiety, and inability to focus on tasks
- Increased anger or irritability toward yourself or others
- Thoughts of suicide
Help & Hope For Depression
If you find that you are experiencing some or several of these symptoms, it may be time to seek help from a licensed, trained individual who is skilled in treating depression. Finding someone to speak to in a safe and comfortable environment can help to bring hope and healing.
If your experience isn’t severe enough to disrupt your daily life, there are some practical steps that you can begin to take to raise your spirits and decrease your risk of developing a worsening depression:
Spend time with others who encourage you and bring you value.
Find ways to spend moments with those who bring joy to your world. You never know what a bit of time with individuals who are enjoyable to be with can do to bring light to the darkness!
Get outside once a day and spend time in nature.
Spending time outside in fresh air and nature is a great way increase your mood. Sunlight offers a natural source of Vitamin D – a necessary nutrient for mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Fresh air also gives you chance to escape the noise of modern life and slow down.
Reduce time on devices and social media.
One major source of depression and depressive thoughts has been reported as increased time spent on devices and social media. The constant access to the pictures of those who seem to live better, more fulfilling lives can lead to feelings of jealousy, envy, and depression. Reduce your time and access to these outlets of false narratives to bring joy and purpose back to your days.
Build self-care routines.
Healthy rhythms are vital for living a thriving life. If you aren’t proactive about building self-care routines and rhythms into your schedule, other things will fill your time for you. Schedule times for getting outside, spending time with family and friends, and special times for your own personal comfort and wellness. Once you begin to build healthy routines into your day, you will see benefits almost immediately.
Find Help & Hope With An Compassionate Expert
If you find yourself needing to find help for depression, the best place to start is with a trained clinical counselor. A licensed individual who has experiencing journeying with individuals through depression and other mental illnesses can be a much-needed lifeline for those at the end of their options.
With compassion and kindness, you can begin to journey toward healing at your pace. You are never without hope. To learn more about the options available, contact Dr. Lynn Winsten, Ph.D. With years of experience helping individuals suffering from depression, Dr. Winsten is available to walk with you, no matter where you are at in your experience. With telehealth options available, you can find hope even in the midst of COVID-19. Contact Dr. Winsten today to learn more.