Depression is world’s leading illness and is one of the major reasons for suicides globally, says the World Health Organization (WHO). The story in India is no different.
Everyone gets depressed at some point or other in life. On this note, there is a difference between feeling low for a short period and clinical depression. The good news is, clinical depression can be treated.
Hence, according to Smita Sundararaman, the founder and managing director of NatureHealz, it’s time to talk it out, instead of brushing it under the carpet.
Sundararaman further explained that the stages of depression are not scientifically agreed upon. However, it is true that there are stages a depressed person goes through. This is the pattern they generally follow:
- Depression is first characterised by denial followed by anger. People do not accept that they suffer from depression; they brush it off as just a low point in their life. Then they feel angry at the world and its injustices. They question why are they the ones picked to go through this suffering?
- This stage is followed by personifying the depression and confronting it. This can include trying to strike bargains with it to make it leave or negotiating with it to leave you alone.
- After this comes the lowest of the low – feeling so depressed that getting out of bed is a chore, getting dressed and going to work is impossible. You may keep thinking of death and how welcome it may be. At this stage, family members are genuinely worried and push you to take psychiatric treatment.
- Acceptance is the last stage when you truly acknowledge that you have an illness and need to be treated. A life spent in this condition seems to be agony, and you know you need help. Mental illness is no longer a taboo word, but something to absorb, accept and treat.
Diagnosing Depression- Various signs to look out for include:
- Feeling depressed for almost the whole day, especially in the mornings after waking up
- Feeling tired and low on energy daily
- Low concentration
- Feeling guilty and/or worthless constantly
- Sleepless nights or too much sleeping almost daily
- No pleasure or interest in any activities
- Feeling restless or bogged down
- Repeatedly thinking of dying and suicide
- Marked increase or decrease in body weight
Treating Depression: Most treatments like Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) or prescription drugs treat the symptoms of depression, not the cause. Relief is short-lived, and patients often relapse after some period.
Depression can be treated from the root by bringing about some lifestyle changes. Psychiatrists and therapists act as enablers in this process by helping you talk through the problems you face.
Here is what you can do:
Reach out to people who matter and involve them in your cure. Suffering from depression is much harder when alone. Having trusted family and friends by your side can go a long way in speeding up your recovery.
Exercise regularly to boost secretion of feel-good hormones like serotonins and endorphins. Exercising also increases the growth of brain cells and synapses which are the connections in the brain. This helps you to fight out of depression. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, even if it just means going for a brisk walk. Getting your body moving may seem like the hardest thing in the world, but stick to it.
Sleep for at least seven to nine hours every night. This is the amount of sleep you need to rest your brain and body. Sadness, mood swings, fatigue, and irritability all increase if you are sleep-deprived. Sufficient sleep is an effective weapon to combat depression.
Take care of your nutrition. Eat small-sized balanced meals at regular intervals instead of a big, heavy meal. Avoid sugary foods even if they make you feel good momentarily. Complex carbohydrates are a better choice for gaining higher energy levels in the long run. Skip the coffee. Replace it with tulsi tea or infused water.
Natural anti-depressants like cashew nuts, turmeric in milk or food, bananas, whole grains, leafy vegetables should be considered before popping any prescription drugs.
Get plenty of sunlight. This ensures you get enough Vitamin D and helps you feel more cheerful too. Eliminate stress creators from your life, whether they exist in your work or personal life.
Naturopathy Therapies like foot bath and certain yoga asanas along with Pranayam can help you release the stress in your mind and body.
Try and relax after a day’s work. Find your “me” time to connect with self. Spend time in nature away from gadgets. Do things you enjoy – get a massage, listen to music, play a sport, or spend time with your loved ones.
It’s all about finding the calm in the chaos!