Have you noticed that you have trouble finding pleasure in activities you once enjoyed? Does it seem impossible to find the motivation to try new things? You might be experiencing depression, an extremely common but highly treatable mental condition. In this article, you will learn about depression, its effects, and treatment options, so you can overcome depression and enjoy life like you used to.
Feeling Depressed? Here's Why
It's normal to experience situational depression when life gets tough. You might just have a lot on your mind, or perhaps you've lost a job or a loved one. Unwanted change can cause depression from time to time. On the other hand, it's possible there are also biological reasons for your mood. In other words, your brain can dictate how you feel. This is why people sometimes become depressed for no particular reason at all. The condition does not necessarily need an external trigger; it can happen due to changes in brain chemistry.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is associated with a person's mood, and lack of this chemical can affect the way you feel. Treating depression with SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) antidepressants is a common way to target serotonin, and this medication is often combined with therapy to address unhelpful thought patterns. Please consult with your physician or primary care provider before considering any medication options.
You Are Not Alone – Depression Is Very Common
Depression can be caused by biological, genetic, and environmental factors, and it can take different forms. Types of depression include major depression, post-partum depression, and seasonal affective disorder, but there are many others as well. Because depression symptoms often accompany other conditions, depression in general is quite prevalent.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 17.3 million adults and 3.2 million adolescents in the United States alone have had at least one episode of major depression. In terms of percentage and overall population, this represents 7.1 percent of all U.S. adults and 13.3 percent of U.S. adolescents. Due to the prevalence of this issue, incredible strides have been made in terms of treatment options and recovery rates.
Treatment Options For Depression
One of the most common signs of depression is a lack of enjoyment for things we once found pleasurable. Depression is either organic or situational and generally appears when we feel like we can't deal with something stressful or traumatic. When we're overwhelmed, depression is the body's way of not feeling emotions that are too intense. Unfortunately, when the mind blocks negative feelings or uncomfortable emotions, it also blocks pleasurable ones.
Chemically, the reason for the loss of pleasure is due to the inhibition of the release of serotonin in the brain. This can be helpful in the short-term, but sometimes our brains need help reversing this mechanism. There are pharmacological remedies to increase the release of serotonin in the brain or to simulate it, but these are often overprescribed and may even increase depressive symptoms. There are other viable methods of treating depression that are often overlooked by medical professionals, despite growing research on the benefits of mental and physical activities.
One Experience with Depression
There are many reasons for depression. Elizabeth's story may or may not resonate with you, but it will show you there is a way through depression, no matter the circumstances.
At the age of thirty-five, Elizabeth has depression. She no longer goes to the gym, even though she has always been an active person. In fact, for most of her adult life, she's gone to the gym every day before work. Last year, however, her mother suddenly died of a heart attack at the age of 60. Overcome with grief, Elizabeth has not been to the gym since her mother died. As a result, she's gained 30 pounds, and this has affected her self-confidence, so she's no longer dating.
She's seeing a therapist, and together, they've recognized that Elizabeth is not only experiencing grief-related depression but she's also having trouble reconciling her life choices. Her mother died at a young age, and Elizabeth believes her mother became a parent too soon at the age of twenty-five. That's why, as a young adult, Elizabeth decided she should finish college, advance her career, and become a homeowner before getting married or having children.
She wanted to start having children at 32, but that age has come and gone. While Elizabeth has had several meaningful relationships, she has yet to find a person she wants to marry. In one of her therapy sessions, she expresses guilt over not having children before her mother died and also fear that she has waited too long. She now has trouble sleeping and no longer enjoys her job or any of her usual activities.
Although it's normal to feel depressed after the death of a loved one, the key change in Elizabeth's life is that she stopped exercising. Exercise is essential to good physical as well as mental health. In the early days after her mother's death, she got out of her routine; then after the funeral, she was too sad to resume it. She started sleeping late each day to avoid facing the reality of life without her mother in addition to the consequences of her life choices.
Resuming exercise is the first step toward recovery. While some forms of depression are resistant to lifestyle enhancements and even treatment, Elizabeth has always been a psychologically healthy person. In her situation, her therapist suggests Elizabeth try to exercise again before considering antidepressants. Studies show that even moderate daily exercise improves mood, sleep, and appetite. Because Elizabeth does not have a history of depression, she is also a good candidate for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to treat her depression, and her prognosis is good for recovery. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a therapeutic technique often used by mental health counselors to treat situational depression.
When we lose enjoyment in activities that we once found pleasurable, it creates a kind of paradox in our lives. In Elizabeth's case, her depression began with her mother's death, but it was exacerbated by the lack of physical exercise. The paradox is in the fact that exercise would have improved her mental outlook, but she didn't feel like exercising. Whether it's gardening, exercise, or antique shopping, we engage in these activities because they make us feel good. If we can bring ourselves to resume these activities, it's easier to overcome depression.
If you’ve tried going back to your exercise routine, but still experience depression, seeking an in-person or online therapist can help. A therapist will give you emotional support and understanding as you explore underlying reasons for why you have depression. A therapist will also teach you how to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, which can increase your mood and allow you to return to your normal routine.
If you’re considering online therapy, know that online therapy has been proven to alleviate symptoms of depression.
Let BetterHelp Help You
Don't let depression spoil the things you enjoy. By taking advantage of convenient therapy options like online therapy at BetterHelp, you can participate in sessions at home when you’re available. Instead of commuting to traditional in-person counseling, you can use this additional time to do something you enjoy. Our licensed professionals who have expertise in depression disorders will guide you as you learn how to manage your depression symptoms, so you can get back into life. Below you can read some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people who have been helped with similar issues.
"Where to begin? For many years I've been depressed and anxiety has been a big part of my life. The way she lets you understand what you are going through is amazing and life changing. Thank you so much. I really appreciate what you are doing with me."
"Karen has helped me challenge some long-held beliefs - stories I had been telling myself about my life's experiences. Stories that had kept me stuck for decades. With her help, I've cleared the path and began to move forward with greater compassion for myself. I'm grateful to her for allowing me to see my lifelong experiences in a much more useful way and cannot recommend her highly enough!"
For more information about depression, its signs and symptoms, and how you can improve your life with mental and physical exercise, visit BetterHelp. There, you'll find online counselors who are available to help you. You'll also discover articles about mental health to get you through this time in your life. Through education and help from others, you can beat depression and get back to living a life you love. Take the first step today.