“All I want to do is sleep.”“I am crying and feel sad – a lot.”“I usually enjoy playing games with the kids after work, but now I just want to be left alone.”
We all have bad days and the ups and downs of daily living can really wear us out. Sometimes, we notice that we are having more down times than up, and the feelings of sadness or hopelessness can begin to dominate our outlook.
If you used to feel good, happy, and productive and now you are sad and have trouble getting the smallest tasks finished, it is a good idea to take the time to explore the changes.
Check out this list of common symptoms:
* No energy
* Feeling sad or hopeless most of the time
* Feeling empty
* Crying a lot, or, feeling like you want to cry but cannot
* Not experiencing joy in life
* Trouble concentrating
* Trouble making decisions
* Decreased interest in doing things you usually enjoy
* Sleeping too much or not sleeping enough
* Eating too much or not eating enough
* Thoughts of death or suicide Note: if you are in immediate crisis, or seriously considering suicide, you should go to the nearest emergency room or phone 911 for help.
If you have several of these symptoms and feel down for more than two weeks, you might be experiencing depression.
Depression can range from normal, mild “ups and downs” to severe depression that lasts a long time. Women are more than twice as likely to experience depression as men. Maybe it is hormones or genetics, but the stress of daily living, raising a family, responsibilities at work, finances, and the expectation that we should be “super women” might also contribute to this statistic.
Depression doesn’t just affect us. When we feel lethargic and sad, our partners and children notice. This change in mood can affect our job performance as well. If you think you might have depression, consult with your doctor to see if medication is the right choice for treating your symptoms.
I often tell my clients that depression is a sneaky disorder. Depression says, “Stay in bed and you’ll feel better,” when in fact, getting up and moving can actually help your brain produce the chemicals it needs to help you feel better. Here are some ways to help you regain a sense of balance.
Get back into a routine – get out of bed in the morning, get a shower, and get dressed. Go to bed at a reasonable time so your internal clock can readjust. This sounds so simple, but depression can make it very difficult. Work every day toward returning to your own personal routine.
Eat regularly and healthfully - Often, when we are depressed, we don’t want to eat, or we only choose “comfort foods” that feel good initially, but don’t help us nutritionally. Make a choice to eat proteins, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fruits, every day. If you don’t have an appetite, decide to eat something at mealtimes, even if it is only a small amount, to help your system get back on track.
Drink plenty of water - Most of us don’t drink enough water and it helps your body function at its best. Drinks with caffeine or sweeteners are not the same as pure water.
Avoid alcohol which can make you feel more depressed.
Exercise – Gee, the last thing we want to think about when we are depressed is exercise.
However, exercise helps our brains produce chemicals that make us feel good and it gets more oxygen into our system. Check with your doctor if necessary, and start out with small goals and gradually increase your time and exertion as you get stronger.
Talk about your feelings with a therapist - It is good to have someone to talk with during rough times. Additionally, you can work together to understand events or triggers that might have contributed to the depression.
Drink plenty of water – No, this isn’t a typo – drinking water can help clear toxins from your body. I believe there is a strong connection between our emotions and how our bodies feel and function. Giving your body what it needs can help restore balance to your system.
Be gentle with yourself - Having depressive symptoms can feel scary and frustrating. You are giving yourself, your partner, and your family a gift by working to take good care of yourself.
© 2006 Cynthia McKenna LPC, NCC - All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
Cynthia McKenna LPC, NCC is a therapist and life-coach who helps people transform their lives. Her goal is to help people have more joy and peace in their daily living. Cynthia works with individuals, couples, and groups in the Texas Hill Country. She also works with clients online and by phone. For more information or to make an appointment, visit Cynthia McKenna’s website http://cynthiamckennacounseling.com.
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