Darlings, no matter how hard you try, you can’t be a little ray of sunshine every single day. Fact! Sometimes you just don’t feel like smiling because you’ve had a bad day at work, a row with your partner, or even because you are feeling a bit lost, overwhelmed and unsupported. But how do you know if you’re just having one of those off days and just feeling a bit sad, or suffering from depression?
What’s the difference between sadness and depression?
Do you know the difference? Don’t worry, most people don’t. However, it is important to understand the difference. This is because sometimes the terms are used interchangeably.
So, what is the difference?
The biggest difference is that when you are feeling sad, in general, you will be able to explain what it is that is causing your sadness or unhappiness. However, a person suffering from depression may not necessarily be able to do so. This is because with depression you are unable to see an end to your problems and believe things will get worse.
What is depression?
It’s important to note that not every sad person has depression, however, anyone experiencing depression will almost certainly experience sadness.
Sadness is a normal and natural reaction to an external experience, whereas depression is more extreme. Clinical depression is a mental illness that has many symptoms and, unlike sadness, affects everyday life.
When people are depressed they generally lose interest in their daily activities; job, relationships, exercise and other things they would normally do.
And bouts of depression can last for weeks, months, or even years. Sufferers are seemingly trapped in an endless cycle of intense, and sometimes, overpowering negative feelings. Depression is also not something one can simply ‘snap out of’, however much one wishes it. It normally takes assistance in the form of therapy or counselling to help loosen the grip that depression has.
Common symptoms of depression
This is not an exhaustive list, but the following are the most common symptoms of depression:
- Loss of interest in daily activities, hobbies, appearance and relationships
- Extreme tiredness, lethargy, tiredness and insomnia
- Irritability and mood swings
- A feeling of hopelessness and a negative outlook on life
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Lack of self-worth
- Inability to concentrate and lack of focus
If you have any symptoms your first port of call should be your doctor.
Is there anything I can do for myself?
As Jane Austen said, it’s a truth universally acknowledge that our thoughts, feelings and behaviour are intrinsically linked. What we think, affects how we feel and ultimately how we end up behaving.
So, if you are feeling depressed here are some things you can do to help yourself:
Learn to recognise your triggers
It’s easier said than done, but when you start feeling depressed trying looking within. Ask yourself why you’re feeling this way and think about what could be triggering these feelings.
When you have some ‘answers’, write them down, and then every time you have a negative thought, or feeling, write down everything about that emotion. Journaling emotions helps you discover your triggers, and once discovered they are a lot easier to control.
Yes, I know, exercise is the last thing you want to do when you’re feeling depressed. What you do want to do is curl up underneath the duvet with a tub of ice cream.
But exercise releases those endorphins which, as we all know having watched Legally Blonde (in my case too many times), make you happy.
Of course, if you hate going to the gym then forcing yourself to go is not going to help at all. Find an exercise you enjoy doing. At the very least, go for a walk. Walking releases the endorphins, but also walking in nature helps relax the mind.
Watch your diet
It’s very easy to go one way or the other with your diet when you’re depressed. You either don’t want to eat, or you overeat. So try and eat a healthy diet (of course, the odd treat isn’t all bad).
There is no fast fix, just stick to a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. It is thought that oily fish, and dark green leafy vegetables also help.
Routines and goals
When you’re suffering a bout of depression you don’t want to do anything.
Try and get yourself into some sort of daily routine, and set yourself small goals. It can be as simple as just getting up, getting showered and getting dressed each day, for a start.
Once you’ve mastered that small goal, try and set yourself some more small goals. Small is best, because they are easier to achieve which will improve your confidence and self-esteem.
Try something new
Trying something new gets you out of the depressive rut you find yourself in.
Doing something that challenges you helps increase the amount of dopamine, the ‘feel-good’ hormone that your body releases.
The power of the mind is immense, and there’s much truth in the saying ‘mind over matter’. And the only person who has control over your mind is you. So the trick is to learn to control it to your advantage, and once you’ve done that, the world is your oyster.
Until next time darlings.
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