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What Is Depression, And How Can I Cope With It?

What Is Depression?

Depression is a common and serious state of medical illness that negatively impacts how you act and feel. Fortunately, it is a treatable disorder. Depression causes feelings of sadness and or a loss of interest in things that you once enjoyed doing. It may lead to various emotional and physical issues and decrease the ability to function at home and work.





The In's and Out's:

Sadness is a state of mind that we all go through from time to time. For few people, this feeling lasts only for a while and then goes away by itself. But for the rest, this is a persistent feeling of unhappiness, emptiness, and hopelessness as it becomes a part of one's daily life.


If your mood has changed over the past few days and engaging in routine daily tasks seems hard for you, you may have developed depression. But when you have these feelings, you must also know that you are not alone.


Depression is a mood disorder that may cause mild or severe symptoms, and may affect how you think, feel, and act daily. Depression is one of the most common mental issues in developed countries such as the US.


As per data from a survey in 2017, it is found that 17.3 million adults that are between the ages of 18 or older in the US, has around one major depressive episode in the previous year.


What Does Depression Feel Like?

Most individuals believe that depression needs to be debilitating and should cause significant issues in one's life to ask for help finally. They don't realize that a few of the subtle signs of this disorder are mostly the first indication that something severe is going on.


Depression may feel like one of the following:

  • Depression feels like there isn't any joy or pleasure in life

  • Concentration and focus become a lot harder, which makes any decision-making process incredibly challenging

  • For most people with depression, it feels like there isn't any way out of the situations in daily life

  • Depression causes a massive impact on sleep as well

  • Depression may be physically painful as well



What Causes Depression?

The causes of depression may be different for different people, and they may range from circumstantial to biological reasons. The most common causes of depression include the following:


Family history:

You will be at a higher risk of having depression at a certain part of your life if you have a family history of depression. It may also be the same if your family has some other mood disorder

Early childhood trauma:

Some events also affect how your body then reacts to the fear and stressful occasions in one's childhood. This can stay with you in the back of your head and may get triggered by certain things later in life.

Brain structure:

There is an increased risk of depression if the frontal lobe of the brain is less active. But scientists still don't know if this happens before or after the start of depressive symptoms.

Medical conditions:

Certain conditions may bring on an elevated risk of depression, such as insomnia, chronic illness, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, etc.

Drug abuse:

A history of alcohol or drug misuse may affect your risk.

Around 21% of people that have substance use problems also get into situations of depression. Here are some other factors of depression are:

  • Low self-esteem

  • Personal history of mental issue s

  • Certain medications




The Basis of Brain Chemistry:

There is a bit of debate on which areas of the brain get affected due to depression. And for how long. There is growing evidence that many parts of the brain then shrink among people with depression.


Mainly these areas lose their grey matter volume. That is the tissue with a lot of brain cells. GMV loss is higher among people that have ongoing or a regular condition of depression.

GMV may be larger in these areas of the brain:


Hippocampus:

That part of the brain is important for learning and solid memory. It then connects to other parts of the brain that keep control of emotion and respond to stress hormones. This makes it open to depression.

Prefrontal cortex:

This area plays a vital role in the higher-level thinking and process of planning. There is also some evidence that these parts of the brain get smaller:

  • Thalamus

  • Caudate nucleus

  • Insula





How to cope with depression?

Fighting depression is a mind game. It is like your mind fighting with itself. But only you can get it out of yourself. You can practice the following to cope with depression.


Build a support network:

Counselling can be of immense help when you are dealing with mental issues. One of the particularly important things that you may do to help yourself cope with depression is to have strong social support.


For a few people, it may mean forging stronger relationships with family and friends. For others, a depression support group may be the way out. It might involve having a support group that meets your needs.

Reduce your stress:

When you are pressured by stress, your body then produces a lot of hormones named cortisol. This is a good thing for a brief time as it helps you cope with what is causing stress in your life.


But in the long run, it may cause issues for you that includes depression itself. The more you are using ways to reduce stress, the better as it will reduce your risk of being depressed.

Improve your sleep:

Sleep and mood are very strongly related. A 2014 study has revealed that 80% of people having major depressive disorder have sleep disturbances. But you may feel like you can't sleep. But to get out of this situation, try switching your devices off, use dim lights to read a book, and then engage in any relaxing activity. It would help if you soothed your brain so that it signals the body to sleep.


In addition to the above, do something that you enjoy or brings you joy, indulge in self-care, challenge your thoughts by asking if they are facts/ true/ kind and move your body in form of walking, exercising and dancing.


These are a few ways that you can cope with depression. Counselling Psychology strongly urges you to get in touch with people you trust to talk to, get your inner thoughts out with a professional, or even just connect with safe familiar people. This way, you will learn about how to cope with past hurt and build up stronger mental health leading to resistance.


Dedicated to your growth,

-V.B.Chase


References:
1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6433686/


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