If you’re living with persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness you can’t shake, you might be one of the millions of people with clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder. Worldwide, depression is a leading cause of disability and can significantly affect your quality of life by causing a loss of pleasure in daily activities.
Major depressive disorder is different from temporarily feeling sad or upset after an unexpected setback or an argument with a loved one. When you are clinically depressed, daily activities can start to feel like an insurmountable challenge. You may have trouble sleeping, a loss of appetite or frequent thoughts of suicide. In some cases, your symptoms may manifest in physical aches and pains with no apparent trigger. What causes depression, and how can you manage this condition?
Characteristics of Depression
A doctor could diagnose you with clinical depression if you meet five or more of the criteria outlined in the DSM-5 for at least two weeks. These symptoms must cause you significant distress or affect your ability to function at work, school or in your relationships.
Depression is a complex mental illness that can stem from several causes. While you may hear it described as an imbalance of brain chemicals, that definition is too simplistic to accurately capture the full scope of what happens inside a depressed person’s body and mind. There is also a genetic component of clinical depression, so if you have a family history of mental illness, you may be more susceptible to developing depression at some point in your life.
Many people with major depressive disorder have a dual diagnosis, which occurs when their depression occurs alongside another mental health issue such as anxiety, PTSD or a substance use disorder. When this happens, it’s vital to find a treatment strategy that simultaneously addresses all facets of your condition.
Seeking Help for Major Depressive Disorder
You might feel disheartened to learn that clinical depression won’t go away on its own, and that there is no cure. However, that does not mean you have to feel this way forever. Mental health professionals have discovered several effective treatment strategies for depression, and through a bit of trial and error, you can find a solution that works well for you.
- Work with a therapist: Having an empathetic person to talk to can help alleviate some of the isolation and loneliness associated with major depressive disorder. A professional clinician can also use their experience to recommend specific coping strategies for managing depression.
- Exercise: Though it isn’t a stand-alone depression treatment, exercise has proven physical and emotional benefits. Being active for at least 20 minutes a day can help you feel less lethargic, sleep more soundly and manage chronic stress.
- Meditate: Meditation is an ancient practice that continues to attract proponents today because it can help practitioners learn to be calm, live in the moment and free their minds from unproductive, negative thoughts.
- Change your diet: Have you primarily been eating processed foods because they are convenient? Try switching to a diet of whole foods such as fresh produce, complex carbohydrates and lean protein sources. Some foods help fight depression by providing your body with specific nutrients it may be deficient in, such as vitamin D, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Call a crisis hotline: If you’re having suicidal thoughts or are experiencing significant emotional distress, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK. Trained crisis center volunteers are waiting to take your confidential call 24/7/365.
Experience Holistic Healing at Vista Taos
Drinking or abusing drugs to temporarily alleviate symptoms of major depressive disorder will only make your mental and physical health problems worse in the long run. Simultaneously treating these issues in residential rehab provides the best chances of long-term success in recovery. To learn more about holistic recovery in Taos, New Mexico, please reach out to us today.