A Sneak Peek into Major Depressive Disorder and Self-help Strategies

Sadness is a normal emotion that all people feel. When a loved one dies or when they are dealing with a difficult life event like a divorce or a major illness, people may feel sad or melancholy. These emotions often pass quickly.

Someone may have a mood disorder like major depressive disorder (MDD)if they consistently and intensely feel down for long periods of time. Clinical depression, another name for MDD, is a serious illness that can have an impact on many aspects of your life. It affects a variety of physiological processes, including food and sleep, as well as mood and behavior. Also, it is the most prevalent mental health disorder with a steep increasing rate.

Depression is more complicated than a simple case of the blues, and it doesn’t suddenly “snap out” of you. For depression, long-term therapy may be required. But don’t give up. Depression is frequently treated with either medicine, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.

What are the symptoms of MDD?

To be diagnosed with MDD, you need to meet the symptom criteria listed in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5).”

According to its criteria:

  • You must notice a shift from how you previously behaved.
  • symptoms must last for two weeks or longer.
  • Depressed mood or lack of interest or pleasure should be persistent.

Although depression may occur only once during your life, people typically have multiple episodes. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day, and you must also experience 5 or more of the following symptoms in the 2-week period:

  • You are generally depressed or agitated during the day, almost every day.
  • Most of the things you used to like are no longer as appealing to you.
  • You experience a sudden change in appetite or weight loss.
  • You find it difficult to fall asleep or desire more sleep than usual.
  • You get a restless feeling in your body.
  • You experience extraordinary fatigue and a lack of energy.
  • You frequently experience feelings of worthlessness or guilt despite circumstances that ordinarily wouldn’t do so.
  • You find it challenging to focus, think, or make decisions.
  • You consider injuring yourself or committing suicide.
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches

Many depressed individuals often have symptoms that are severe enough to interfere with daily activities including job, school, social interactions, or interpersonal relationships. Some people may experience widespread misery or unhappiness without truly understanding why.

Symptoms: Depression in older adults

Depression is never to be taken lightly because it is not a typical aspect of aging. Unfortunately, older persons with depression frequently go undetected and untreated, and they may be hesitant to get assistance. Older persons may experience various or less noticeable signs of depression, such as:

  • memory issues or character alterations
  • physical discomfort
  • Symptoms of exhaustion, anorexia, insomnia, or lack of desire for sex that is not brought on by a disease or medicine
  • Frequently preferring to remain in rather than leave the house to interact with others or try new things
  • Especially with elderly men, suicidal thoughts or sentiments

Are depression symptoms in children and teens different from adults?

Although there may be some distinctions, the typical signs and symptoms of depression in adolescents and teens are comparable to those in adults.

  • Depression in young children might manifest as melancholy, irritation, clinginess, concern, aches, pains, refusing to go to school, or being underweight.
  • Teens may experience symptoms such as sadness, mood swings, feeling down and unworthy, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and overly sensitive, using alcohol or drugs recreationally, eating excessively, engaging in self-harm, losing interest in regular activities, and avoiding social interaction.

What causes major depressive disorder?

It is unknown what causes MDD specifically. However, a number of things might make you more likely to have the illness. The capacity to sustain a stable mood might be hampered by the interaction of genes and stress. The development of MDD could also be influenced by changes in the hormone balance. 

MDD may also be triggered by:

  • Misuse of alcohol or drugs 
  • Certain diseases, such as cancer or hypothyroidism
  • Specific types of medicines, such as steroid usage when a kid

What is the outlook for someone with major depressive disorder?

It’s crucial to keep in mind that MDD may be effectively treated, even if a person with the illness may occasionally feel like there is no hope. There’s a chance. It’s crucial to follow your treatment plan if you want your perspective to get better. Do not skip therapy sessions or follow-up consultations with your doctor. Never stop taking your prescriptions without first consulting a healthcare provider or therapist.

Read why it is so hard to come out of depression by clicking here!

Are there types of depression? Watch our video to know about situational depression.

The need to see a doctor- When?

Make an appointment to visit your doctor or a mental health expert as soon as you can if you’re feeling down. If you’re hesitant to get help, talk to a friend or family member, a doctor, a member of your religious community, or someone else you can trust.

Want to know about the secret ingredient that our brain needs to keep depression at bay? read our article!

Self-help strategies to deal with MDD- How helpful are they?

It is preferable to think of self-help methods for treating depression as supplements to therapies that are given by a doctor. Don’t put off seeking professional help for your depression or make an effort to handle it alone. Rather, get a professional diagnosis as soon as possible. You will have a better chance of healing the sooner your depression has been appropriately identified and treated. Many people believe that their bad mood is transient and will go away on its own. Some forms of depression are transient and minor disorders, while others definitely aren’t. When symptoms are left untreated, they can become more severe and lead to more significant issues, including suicidal thoughts and actions, substantially damaged health, harm to your relationships with others, and seriously decreased occupational functioning.

Read our article to overcome depression and loneliness and get access to a free worksheet.

Watch our youtube video to know how you can save yourself from being depressed and demotivated.

Things to keep in mind while engaging in self-help techniques-

Discuss with your healthcare provider how you might include self-help practices in your treatment plan. Your chances of recovery are likely to be higher the more actively you participate in your rehabilitation. You might include self-help activities into your treatment in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Express yourself: Discuss your concerns with a therapist, your friends, or your family. If speech isn’t your thing, start a notebook and express yourself there. You can gain some perspective on what is hurting you by engaging in expressive writing (such as in a diary) for 15 to 20 minutes three or four days in a row. Putting your feelings into writing might also relieve some of the strain you are now experiencing. Both talking about your problems and keeping a journal about them are believed to improve mood. You may express your feelings and keep track of your mood by writing. It’s a safe place to express everything you’re experiencing, including grief, rage, suffering, and other negative emotions.
  • Stay Socially Engaged: The core symptoms of depression push people to stop participating with others socially and emotionally and motivate them to isolate themselves. It is important to work to resist these urges to isolate as best you can. Let your family, friends, and associates help you. Accept invitations to social events and maintain your typical social schedule as best you can even if you are not enjoying your participation as much as you used to. Staying socially engaged provides you with social support, offers you a distraction from the repetitive negative ruminations you are otherwise going to be prone to experiencing, may offer some pleasure even if that feeling is fleeting for a while, and can provide you with opportunities for reality testing (so that you don’t take your depressive ideas about how worthless you are too seriously).
  • Prioritize: Depression is often a very difficult position. Even when you are suffering and miserable, life demands continue. Setting priorities for the expectations you must meet and focusing on the most urgent chores first will help you experience less stress. To finish the remaining tasks, enlist the assistance of other family members or friends, or just let things ride for a bit.

Wish to know about expectation management with respect to depression? Read our article and gain access to a free worksheet.

  • Recognize Your Prognosis:  Many people find it challenging to acknowledge their depression. They could feel weak or embarrassed of themselves, or they might think they can manage things on their own if they simply “push through.” Recognize your prognosis. When you do not get the desired level of alleviation or when new symptoms appear, make it a point to discuss this with your doctor so that they can address your concerns. Inform your close friends and family members that you are clinically depressed and ask for their support in resolving the issue. Your friends, for example, can support you in overcoming the need to isolate yourself and provide you feedback on how you seem to be doing both physically and mentally.
  • Invest Time With Animals: Spending time with dogs may be calming for many individuals who are depressed. Pets provide sad individuals with unconditional affection and do not place burdensome demands on them. Although they frequently don’t fully grasp what you are saying, they are generally excellent listeners. Feeding animals is a kind gesture. If it is acceptable, walking your pet might turn into a regular workout regimen that has several advantages for both you and your pet.
  • Exercise: It is believed that regular, strenuous exercise has an antidepressant impact. Other advantages of exercise include general health enhancements, the chance to interact with others (such as in a gym or with teams), and time spent alone (e.g., on a bike or solitary hike). The necessity to attend to the physical demands of what you are doing tends to push away self-critical thinking, making exercise a fantastic method to break up your thoughts (at least for a little while). Before beginning a new physical training program, see your doctor to be sure your body is capable of doing it.

Know about the 14 most effective mindfulness exercises by clicking here!

  • Relaxation training: Focusing on tensing and relaxing muscle groups methodically can help a person with depression relax voluntarily.

Watch our video to know about meditation techniques that are suggested by professionals!

  • Learn for Yourself: Depression makes people feel as though they are out of control. Learning more about your condition is one approach to feeling more in control. You may accomplish this by speaking with your physicians and therapists, hearing from others who have experienced depression and reading as much as you can. The more information you have on depression and its treatments, the better chance you have of identifying the mix of therapies and strategies that will make you feel better. There are several self-help books available for depression.
  • Spend time outside /in nature: Numerous studies indicate that spending time in nature is beneficial for overall health. Living among trees and taking walks in nature might improve your mood and even lengthen your life. Additionally, it can reduce levels of tension, anxiety, and sadness. It’s simpler to set off negative thoughts and fears when you see and hear birds, trees, and other natural sights and noises. So make time to relax outside or go for a stroll.
  • Attend To Your Primary Necessities: Your level of self-care has an effect on how you feel. Your mood and general health are influenced by your sleep, food, drug and alcohol use, exercise, social, and spiritual practices. You may find that choosing to change your lifestyle for the better may ultimately help you feel better. For more information, please visit our other subject centers on nutrition, exercise, quitting smoking, weight loss, anger management, and emotional resilience.
  • Delay Important Decisions: Avoid making important decisions when you’re depressed. When you’re sad, it might be difficult to make even little decisions. Wait to take on significant matters until you feel better. If you have to make a choice right away, discuss your alternatives with close friends or family members who are familiar with you and who can see all sides of the story.

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