Have you been sad for at least two weeks? Have you lost interest in things that you normally find pleasurable? If you answered “yes” to either of the previous questions, you may be dealing with depression.

Depression is not just a feeling; it is an illness that affects millions of people worldwide.  It takes a toll on the mind and body, sometimes making easy, everyday tasks more difficult and life less enjoyable.  It goes beyond being a mood one feels.  It can take over one’s life and have physical effects on the body.  Depression can cause headaches, joint pains, stomach problems and make existing illnesses, such as arthritis, much more difficult to handle.

One should never think they have to settle for living with depression.  Even the most severe cases can be treatable.  With advanced research on the subject, doctors and psychologists have developed various treatment methods, such as through counseling or medications, which have been proven to be effective.  Think about seeking treatment if the answer is yes to either of the two questions proposed at the beginning of this article.  Contact your doctor right away if either of these questions pertains to you, so you can take the steps to improve your well-being. 

After seeking help, there are various ways to remain healthy and feeling better about life.  Be sure to keep up with counseling and/or prescriptions, even if you think you are feeling better.  If you are feeling better, that is a good sign that your treatment is working, but until your doctor feels you have fully recovered, you should continue treatments.  Never be too hard on yourself.  By setting realistic and attainable goals and taking small steps towards achieving them, you will have the empowerment to keep going and improve self-worth.  It is also positive to surround yourself with loved ones who support you and keep away from those who impact you negatively.  Having those who support you around you will help you through the process and keep you on the right path.  You should also indulge in activities that are enjoyable, yet not harmful to you.  Alcohol and drug use can trigger depression and make the road to recovery much more difficult.  Lastly, take part in physical activity.  Even just walking for ten minutes a day can help clear the mind and boost your endorphins which contribute to forming a positive outlook. 

Feeling depressed is not a normal part of life and affects people differently.  Sometimes new mothers have a difficult time adjusting to their new life.  They could be suffering from postpartum depression and may experience mood swings which should dissipate within two weeks.  This could also become more serious and if it continues treatment should be sought.  Young children can be affected with symptoms such as worrying often, crying more, getting scared more easily or trying to injure themselves.    Teens may lash out, turn to substance abuse, become violent, or isolate themselves.  Men, often overlooked when dealing with depression because of the “men don’t cry” attitude, can show signs through the misuse of alcohol, controlling or abusive behavior, irritability, risky behavior or unsafe sexual activity.  As for the elderly, depression is not a standard part of getting older.  It can cause unexplained symptoms, such as frequent headaches, loss of appetite and tiredness.  Age does not make a person more worthless.  Everyone should get the most they can out of life and living with depression sets limits to happiness and possibilities. 

Living with depression should not be an option.  If you find yourself feeling sadness for an extended period of time or you do not feel the joy in things you used to, seek help.  It cannot hurt to simply ask questions and take steps to improve your life.  Every person deserves having the best possible life they can; don’t let depression get you down!

At Safe Harbor Homecare, we aid in dealing with symptoms, as well as, take measures for our patients to avoid falling into depression.  If you have a loved one who is showing signs of depression, we are here to help!  Whether it is providing nursing, companion, physical activity, or simply getting them out of the house, we can help in creating a nurturing environment to lessen or avoid depression and improve quality of life.