Feelgood Health

Symptoms of Depression and how you can help yourself naturally

What is depression?

Feeling low, a bit sad or having a bout of the blues occasionally is quite normal. Most of us have those days when our mood is low or we are down in the dumps – yes, even the happiest of people who swear that nothing ever gets them down are prone to a “blue mood” now and then. However, when most of us feel this way, these feelings pass quickly and we get over the slump we were in.

Unfortunately, for some people this is not always the case! Feelings of sadness and negative thoughts may persist and this can  affect your personal and work life, and your ability to function normally. When these feelings persist and affect your functioning negatively,  this is called depression.

People tend to not always understand the term “depression” and will often use it loosely to describe how they feel when they have  had a bad break-up or an awful week at work. Although we tend to use the term loosely, depression is a serious disorder which needs treatment and therapy to heal and recover completely.

It is very important to understand that each person experiences depression differently. Each person’s symptoms are different – you may be sleeping and overeating all the time while someone else may feel irritable and angry and have lost all appetite, as well as their interest in work and hobbies. Men, women, teenagers, older adults and new moms can all experience depression.

Keep in mind that there are different types of depression and that they come in various shapes and forms – for instance, mild depression which may recur (dysthymia), major depression, biopolar disorder or seasonal affective disorder. Because the symptoms and causes of depression differ from person to person,  treatment would also be different.

It’s not always easy to tell whether you are simply going through a bad patch or may be clinically depressed. Key signs are the length of time you have been feeling this way, as well as the degree to which your functioning has been affected at work, in relationships and socially. We look at the warning signs of depression and what you can to help yourself naturally.

How to tell if you were depressed?

1. Mood changes

One of the main symptoms of depression is when there is a definite change in your mood or outlook on life. These changes can include feelings of sadness, self-hatred, hopelessness, worthlessness, helplessness or guilt.

When you are suffering from depression, it is often very difficult to have a positive outlook on life and you will find yourself sinking into a deep, dark pit thinking negative thoughts. 

2. Feelings of anxiety and irritability

Depression also causes anxiety and irritability as people often don’t know how to deal with all the mixed emotions that they are feeling. Men often express their depression differently to women. They will tend to not only be irritable but also become aggressive, reckless and angry.

People may ‘self medicate’ by increasing their intake of alcohol, cigarettes or recreational drugs. Other signs may be an obsession with gambling or promiscuity.

3. Loss of interest

Depression can suck the joy and pleasure out of things that you previously enjoyed and cared about. When you are depressed, you lose all interest in pleasurable activities such as hobbies, sport, going to gym, having sex or interacting with friends and family.

In many cases, depressed people may neglect themselves – for instance, they may look unkempt, forget to wash themselves or brush their hair. 

4. Low energy levels and fatigue

Feeling tired and not having lots of energy is quite common when you are depressed. Depression causes a lack of energy and a general feeling of wanting to do nothing but lie down or sleep. Being in a slump like this can be very disabling if not treated.

5. Changes in sleep patterns

Depressed people often complain that they either spend too much time sleeping or are unable to sleep. They may sleep the entire day and lie awake during the night or they may wake up during the early hours and be unable to fall asleep again. Lack of quality sleep can lead to insomnia and increase anxiety levels - making the depressed person feel even worse.

6.  Appetite and weight fluctuations

A change in appetite is also quite common when suffering from depression. Some people will eat too much while others may eat too little. People may use food as a crutch or to compensate for their feelings of sadness, guilt or self-hatred.

Others may simply lose interest in eating and therefore have no appetite at all. Naturally, those who are eating too much will gain weight while others will experience weight loss. In both cases, eating too much or too little can be detrimental for your health.

7. Physical symptoms

Depression can cause physical symptoms such as headaches, aches and pains, cramps and other digestive problems to manifest. These symptoms may be psychosomatic – when physical symptoms are made worse by anxiety and stress.

When the person consults a GP, they can’t find anything wrong because the underlying cause is depression. However, the problem is not ‘all in the head’. Depression definitely can cause physical symptoms to occur!

8. Mental symptoms

Having trouble focusing and concentrating, forgetfulness, not being able to make decisions and attention to detail are a few of the things that happen when you are depressed. Suddenly your thought processes and ability to think clearly is hampered. 

9. Inability to control emotions

Depression can affect your emotions dramatically. Your feelings and emotions will be all over the place and you will find it difficult to keep it together. You could start crying for no apparent reason or be shouting like a complete loon the next minute.   

10. Suicidal thoughts

When you are feeling severely depressed, you may also have suicidal thoughts. Depression can cause you to go into a downward spiral and you will feel like your situation is too much to deal with and the only answer is to end your life.

During these episodes, it is very important that you reach out for help. There are people who are very willing to help and support you and by talking to someone, you can feel a bit better.  People who are feeling suicidal should always go for professional help and family members should never ignore someone who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions.

What you can do to help to yourself

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms of depression and they have lasted for more than a few weeks and are quite serious, you should try to help yourself.

1. Seek help and support

If you recognise the symptoms of depression in yourself, realising and knowing this can be hard to come to terms with at first. While you may feel helpless and at a loss in the beginning, it doesn’t mean that you can’t change your situation. One of the first steps to recovery is to ask for help and support.

Speak to someone who you are comfortable with – this could be a good friend or family member. Sometimes speaking about what is weighing you down and having someone listen can be a tremendous help.

Don’t be afraid to lean on loved ones for support – people are often only too happy to help and support you when you are going through a difficult period. It’s about learning to trust and allowing them to support you.
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2. Implement healthy lifestyle changes

Making certain lifestyle changes can have a positive effect on depression. Start by eating a healthy, balanced diet so that your body and mind will be nourished with all the essential vitamins and minerals. What you put into your body has a direct effect on your mood and how you will feel.

Regular exercise can significantly improve your mood and balance emotions while keeping you active, fit and looking and feeling good. Get yourself into a gym, go walking, running, dancing, cycling or swimming but keep moving!

Manage your stress levels by learning to relax and take more time out for yourself. If you have a hectic job or your schedule is always busy, de-stress by going for a massage, listen to soothing music, watch a comedy or have a get-together with friends.

Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, Pilates or learning to meditate. A good night’s rest is also equally important and is guaranteed to make you feel like a new person if you get your eight hours beauty sleep.
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3. Surround yourself with positive and supportive people

When you are depressed, it may seem easier to surround yourself with people who are also feeling down, miserable or negative about life. If you continue to do this, you will definitely not feel better.

Surround yourself with people who only have your best interests at heart – supportive, positive people will help you to feel better about yourself. If you’ve been hanging around with negative people, it’s time to make a change!
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4. A natural approach

Lots of people are looking for a more natural approach to treat depression. Natural remedies for depression can help to balance serotonin levels and improve mood and can work  holistically to manage and control the symptoms of depression.

The Feelgood Health range has natural remedies to treat depression and anxiety. Choose MindSoothe which acts as a natural antidepressant and promotes all round emotional and psychological health.MindSoothe is also available in MindSoothe Jr for children.  PureCalm is a herbal remedy which provides instant relief from anxiety, stress, irritability and nervous tension.

Other remedies which can help to relieve the symptoms of depression include:
Serenite Plus – a natural remedy to induce drowsiness and promote healthy sleep patterns
Fatigue Fighter – a natural remedy to reduce fatigue, increase energy levels and restore vitality and health
Gastronic Dr – a natural remedy to maintain healthy digestive functioning
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5. Get professional help

Sometimes even after talking to a friend, making lifestyle changes or trying alternative therapies, you still can’t shake the symptoms of depression. Now’s the time to seek professional help – consult a GP, clinical psychologist or counsellor to advise and guide you through your depression.

Therapy is very helpful in dealing with depression as it provides you with coping and behavioural skills as well as how to think more positively. In some cases, you may need medication while in other cases, you may need therapy or even both. The most important thing to remember is that, no matter how hopeless things may feel, it is possible to feel better with the right help.

- See more at: http://www.feelgoodhealth.co.za/health-hub/symptoms-of-depression-how-to-help-yourself-natural-antidepressant-remedies#sthash.Z8WsQ0Mh.dpuf
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