How to recognize and treat depression before it’s too late

The Cause and Effect

One of the most important things to know about depression is why it exists. That way the root of the problem can be addressed instead of treating the symptoms. There are many different causes of depression, and these reasons change from person to person. One person may experience feelings of depression because of an unstable home environment. Another person may be depressed because they were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Many times, victims of abuse or harassment and people who have undergone a traumatic situation will struggle with depression. Whatever the reason, there are many people dealing with depression, which causes low self esteem, a general lack of enthusiasm towards life, and many other unpleasant side effects such as these. Depression may vary from mild to severe, depending on how often and how much these feelings manifest themselves in the individual experiencing them.

Often times the cause of depression is directly related to an eating disorder or even chemical dependency. Because of the difficulty they experience in dealing with an outside problem, they lose faith in themselves and slowly descend into a depression. This is known as Dual Diagnosis.

Signs of Depression

People who are dealing with other issues (such as an eating disorder) are very prone to developing depression. If you are unsure as to whether you or someone you know is dealing with depression, here are some red flags to look out for:

1. Activities that used to interest you are no longer enjoyable
2. You feel generally unmotivated about life
3. You are easily irritable and frustrated about things that didn’t used to bother you
4. You experience irregular sleeping patterns, having trouble falling to sleep or waking up in the middle of the night, or sleeping too much
5. There are unexplained bodily changes such as gaining or losing weight
6. Low self esteem or self worth
7. Thinking or talking excessively about death, or thinking you would be better off dead

While these are not the only signs of depression, these are some of the most common signs in people dealing with depression. Watching for these signs should give you a good place to start, and be sure to use your common sense.

Leading a Balanced Lifestyle

Some of the first questions asked to a person experiencing depression are: Do you get physical exercise every week? Do you eat a balanced diet? On average, how much sleep do you get every night? This is because sometimes, the problem is just that you are not properly taking care of yourself. Even if you are not depressed, you would be amazed at how much better you would feel with a regular exercise routine, a healthy diet, and the amount of sleep that your doctor recommends. Leading a balanced, healthy lifestyle is one of the most missed keys when trying to treat depression. While these sorts of habits can be difficult to attain, especially when you are already depressed and have no motivation for it, taking small steps one at a time will eventually lead you to that goal.

Leading a healthy lifestyle is not a fix-all for depression. This usually applies to smaller cases that don’t have a specific reason for the depression. Leading a healthy lifestyle is, however, a great decision to make regardless of whether you are here for yourself or someone you know.

This particularly applies to anybody experiencing an eating disorder or struggling with a chemical dependency, as both are detrimental to your health. There are many options for getting help and finding a treatment that will best serve your needs.

Ways to Treat Depression

At the beginning, it was said that there are different reasons for depression. While there is no fix-all for every person with depression, there are many treatments and methods that apply in almost every situation.

Some basic principles for treating depression:

1. Treat depression as soon as it is recognized.
2. Discover the root of the problem. (Example: Is there a history of abuse? Stressful situation?)
3. Get professional help. There are many counselors, programs, and treatments available to deal with depression.

To help a friend experiencing depression:

1. Try to learn more about depression and what they are going through.
2. Give them support and love. (Be careful to take time out for yourself, as being a support can be very draining.)
3. Develop your own support system so that you, too, have somebody to go to.
4. Remember that they may not be as interested in doing the things that they used to enjoy. Try to be understanding and don’t take it personally or think that they don’t love you anymore.
5. They may feel easily overwhelmed by simple chores and tasks. It may be helpful for you to help them with some of the basics, like grocery shopping.
6. Continue to show them love, and give them hope in whatever way you can.

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