Rainy, cold weather, mood fluctuations and even bad dreams can leave us feeling a little gray sometimes, but we can usually pinpoint the root of these feelings and are quickly brought back into a regular good-feeling flow. But what happens when we encounter longer term feelings of sadness, loneliness and helplessness known as depression?
What Is depression?
According to Merriam-Webster, depression is defined as a state of feeling sad or a serious medical condition in which a person feels very sad, hopeless, and unimportant and often is unable to live in a normal way. Feeling sad or depressed from time to time is part of being human and is completely normal. There are times, however, when we feel more than just sad and for an extended period of time either due to a stressful event like loss of a job, a traumatic event like losing a loved one, or even after a natural disaster like a hurricane. This type of depression is situational and is, most often, short-term.
Dr. Wayne Dyer shares his story about feeling depressed in his blog post, The Gift in the Storm. After his divorce, Dr. Dyer lost weight, struggled getting motivated and experienced deep sadness. All of these symptoms are normal after traumatic events or life changes, which leave us having to adapt to a new way of living.
Symptoms of situational depression, like a divorce or loss, include:
• Feeling sad or a depressed mood
• Sense of restlessness
• Difficulty sleeping
• Feeling tired
• Low levels of undefined anxiety and/or worry
• Feeling hopelessness or feeling a lack of purpose
• Trouble concentrating
• Withdrawal from work, leisure activities, friends and family
During and after life-changing events, it’s not surprising we experience these types of symptoms. If we didn’t, we’d wonder if we were alive at all. After all, these experiences shake up our security and hurt our hearts. Acknowledging how we feel and finding ways to cope with our feelings is a natural part of being a healthy person. The good news is these symptoms usually disappear after about six months, once we’ve adapted to a new situation or received counseling to learn valuable coping skills. Having a strong circle of support is crucial during times of loss. If you do not have an active support system in place, you can find support groups online to assist in healing, guidance and offering additional resources so you can recover completely.
Here are some additional steps you can take when you are feeling blue:
Choose a healthy diet. There are mood boosting foods to help uplift your spirits. Ask your healthcare practitioner for a list of safe mood-enhancing foods and vitamin and mineral supplements you can take.
Move your body. Even a quick 10-minute walk can boost your mood.
Get some rest. Even if you are having a difficult time sleeping, it’s important to rest during stressful times.
Consider alternative methods like acupuncture, massage or even meditation.
Join a support group. We all need help sometimes and finding a group who understands what you are going through can make all the difference in the world.
Seek professional help such as counseling to gain a better understanding of your feelings and how to cope.
If these symptoms worsen, last longer than six months or prevent you from functioning, then it’s time to ask for professional help. Sometimes, we get stuck, especially during traumatic events, and the quicker you get help, the sooner you can learn new coping skills in dealing with loss and life changes. You are not alone and asking for help is the first step in healing.
Clinical depression is quite different from situational depression in that a person with clinical depression has multiple symptoms concurrently and sometimes experiences severe symptoms like suicidal thoughts, delusions and hallucinations. Clinical depression requires professional help to manage debilitating symptoms that prevent people from functioning normally.
If you are suffering from depression (situational or clinical), help is available. Call your doctor and be honest about your symptoms. You are not alone. There are many ways to treat depression and your doctor will help you find the one that is right for you. Also, many cities and states have local support lines and can put you in touch with professionals who can help you live a full, healthy and happy life.
Second Firsts: Live, Laugh and Love Again, by Christina Rasmussen
How to Heal a Grieving Heart, by Doreen Virtue and James Van Praagh
You Can Heal Your Heart: Finding Peace After a Breakup, Divorce, or Death, by Louise Hay and David Kessler
You Can Heal Your Life: The Movie – Expanded Edition DVD, by Louise Hay
The information contained in this article not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease and is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, supplement, exercise or other health program.
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