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Depression 

What is depression?

We all go through ups and downs in our mood. Sadness is a normal reaction to life’s struggles, setbacks, and disappointments. Many people use the word “depression” to explain these kinds of feelings, but depression is much more than just sadness.

Some people describe depression as “living in a black hole” or having a feeling of impending doom. However, some depressed people don't feel sad at all—instead, they feel lifeless, empty, and apathetic.

Whatever the symptoms, depression is different from normal sadness in that it engulfs your day-to-day life, interfering with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and have fun. The feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness are intense and unrelenting, with little, if any, relief.

Are you depressed?

If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from clinical depression.

  • you can’t sleep or you sleep too much
  • you can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult
  • you feel hopeless and helpless
  • you can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try
  • you have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating
  • you are much more irritable and short-tempered than usual
  • you have thoughts that life is not worth living (Seek help immediately if this is the case)

Signs and symptoms of depression

Depression varies from person to person, but there are some common signs and symptoms. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be part of life’s normal lows. But the more symptoms you have, the stronger they are, and the longer they’ve lasted—the more likely it is that you’re dealing with depression. When these symptoms are overwhelming and disabling, that's when it's time to seek help.

Common signs and symptoms of depression

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities.  No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
  • Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
  • Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
  • Irritability or restlessness. Feeling agitated, restless, or on edge. Your tolerance level is low; everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
  • Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
  • Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
  • Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  • Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

Depression and suicide

Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. Thoughts of death or suicide are a serious symptom of depression, so take any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It's not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide: it's a cry for help.

Warning signs of suicide include:

 

  • Talking about killing or harming one’s self
  • Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
  • An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
  • Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
  • Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
  • Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
  • Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out.”
  • A sudden switch from being extremely depressed to acting calm and happy.

If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, express your concern and seek professional help immediately. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.

See Suicide Prevention: Signs of Suicide and How to Help a Suicidal Person.

 

This article found on the website:

Developing a Wellness Toolbox

 

The first step in developing your own Wellness Recovery Action Plan [WRAP] is to develop a Wellness Toolbox. This is a listing of things you have done in the past, or could do, to help yourself stay well, and things you could do to help yourself feel better when you are not doing well. You will use these "tools" to develop your own WRAP.

Insert several sheets of paper in the front of your binder. List on these sheets the tools, strategies and skills you need to use on a daily basis to keep yourself well, along with those you use frequently or occasionally to help yourself feel better and to relieve troubling symptoms. Include things that you have done in the past, things that you have heard of and thought you might like to try, and things that have been recommended to you by health care providers and other supporters. You can get ideas on other tools from self-help books, including those by Mary Ellen Copeland:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Mary Ellen Copeland, M.S., M.A.   

Dec 29, 2008

Read more at:

 

 

 

 

The following list includes the tools that are most commonly used to stay well and help relieve symptoms:

  1. Talk to a friend - many people find this to be really helpful
  2. Talk to a health care professional
  3. Peer counseling or exchange listening
  4. Focusing exercises
  5. Relaxation and stress reduction exercises
  6. Guided imagery
  7. Journaling - writing in a notebook
  8. Creative affirming activities
  9. Exercise
  10. Diet considerations
  11. Light through your eyes
  12. Extra rest
  13. Take time off from home or work responsibilities
  14. Hot packs or cold packs
  15. Take medications, vitamins, minerals, herbal supplements
  16. Attend a support group
  17. See your counselor
  18. Do something "normal" like washing your hair, shaving or going to work
  19. Get a medication check
  20. Get a second opinion
  21. Call a warm or hot line
  22. Surround yourself with people who are positive, affirming and loving
  23. Wear something that makes you feel good
  24. Look through old pictures, scrapbooks and photo albums
  25. Make a list of your accomplishments
  26. Spend ten minutes writing down everything good you can think of about yourself
  27. Do something that makes you laugh
  28. Do something special for someone else
  29. Get some little things done
  30. Repeat positive affirmations
  31. Focus on and appreciate what is happening right now
  32. Take a warm bath
  33. Listen to music, make music or sing

Your list of tools could also include things you want to avoid like:

  1. alcohol, sugar and caffeine
  2. going to bars
  3. getting overtired
  4. certain people

Refer to these lists as you develop your Wellness Recovery Action Plan. Keep it in the front of your binder so you can use it whenever you feel you need to revise all or parts of your plan.