Major depressive disorder: Tips to Keep Going
Major depressive disorder is more than just feeling blue. What are the symptoms of depression? How are major depressive disorder and people diagnosed with it? What kinds of treatment should someone expect if they're diagnosed? Get real answers here.
What is major depressive disorder?
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. I am a psychologist based in Hong Kong and a counseling expert that will work with you to address your mental health needs.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
Insomnia or hypersomnia
Fatigue or loss of energy almost every day
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt almost every day
Impaired concentration, indecisiveness
Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in almost all activities nearly every day
Restlessness or feeling slowed down
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Significant weight loss or gain
What Triggers Major Depression?
Some common triggers or causes of major depression include:
Loss of a loved one through death, divorce, or separation
Social isolation or feelings of being deprived
Major life changes -- moving, graduation, job change, retirement
Personal conflicts in relationships, either with a significant other or a superior
Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
The following tips may help people deal with a depressive disorder:
1. Track triggers and symptoms
Keeping track of moods/symptoms might help a person understand what triggers Major depressive disorder. Spotting the signs of depression early on may help them avoid a full-blown depressive episode.
Keep a diary to log important events, changes to daily routines, and moods. Rate moods on a scale of 1 to 10 to help identify which events or activities cause specific responses. See a specialist if symptoms persist for 14 days or more.
2. Understand and accept depression
Knowing more about depression can help people deal with the condition. Depression is a widespread and genuine mental health disorder. It is not a sign of weakness or a personal shortcoming.
If you experience major depressive disorder, knowing that it can happen from time to time might help you deal with it when it does. Remember, it is possible to manage symptoms with treatments, such as lifestyle changes, medication, and therapy.
3. Recognize the importance of self-care
Self-care is essential for good physical and mental health. Self-care activities are any actions that contribute to our well being, such as resting and doing something enjoyable. It also means saying no to others when overwhelmed, and taking space to calm down and sooth ourselves.
When you have major depressive disorder, just getting out of bed can be a struggle. Basic self-care activities include eating a healthful diet, engaging in creative activities, and taking a soothing bath. But any action that enhances mental, emotional, and physical health can be considered a self-care activity.
4. Breathe deeply and relax the muscles
Breathing techniques are an effective way to calm anxiety and soothe the body’s stress response. Slow breathing has physical and psychological benefits, especially when done on a daily basis. Progressive muscle relaxation training is another helpful tool for those experiencing depression and anxiety. It involves tensing and relaxing the muscles in the body to reduce stress.
5. Practice mindfulness
Rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, spend time in each moment, appreciating what is around you. This can mean noticing the warmth of sunlight on your skin when walking to work, or enjoying a crisp, sweet apple at lunchtime.
Mindfulness of breathing is scientifically proven to reduce symptoms of major depressive disorder and improve the negative responses that some people with chronic or recurrent depression have to low moods.
6. Avoid alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant and using it too much or too often can trigger episodes of depression or make existing episodes worse. Alcohol can also interact with some medications for depression and anxiety.
7. Make a bedtime routine
Sleep can have a huge impact on mood and mental health. Depression can interfere with sleep and a lack of sleep can contribute to symptoms of depression. To combat these effects, try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even at weekends.
Start winding down from 8 pm. Sip chamomile tea, read a book, or take a warm bath. Avoid screen time, and caffeine. Take a walk outside, breathe deeply. Establish a regular nightly routine. It may also be helpful to write in a journal before bedtime, especially for those whose racing thoughts keep them up at night.