Overview of Depression
Most people feel depressed at certain times. Depression is a very normal emotion, and usually does not require any medication or professional intervention. It is your brain’s way of telling your body to stop—either because it is exhausted and just cannot do *it* anymore, or because something is hopeless—you are fighting a losing battle. Depression is also a crucial part of the grief process, and signals the realization that a loss has occurred, and you cannot change it.
For the most part, a chemical called serotonin is responsible for your happy feelings. Medical conditions can cause depressive symptoms. Biologically based depression is usually treated with a combination of medication, nutrition, exercise and, sometimes, talk therapy. Once you have ruled out biological or “organic” causes, then it is time to look at what you may be doing upset your brain chemical balance. Stress, lack of sleep and poor nutrition also prevent your body from producing enough happy chemicals. Just like you can only do so many things at once, your body also has to balance its energy. If it is busy helping you get a ton of work done, worry about your finances/job/spouse/children, digest food and whatever else you do, then it does not have time to make the happy chemicals until you go to sleep. However, if you are not sleeping well or enough, then it still does not have enough time to devote to helping you feel better.
Note: Seek immediate help if you have thoughts of suicide or your depression is severe enough that it is negatively affecting one or more areas of your life.
- Depressed mood: A depressed mood is much different from sadness. In fact, many people with depression say they cannot feel sadness or even cry. Being able to cry again often means the depression is improving.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most activities, most days: When depression starts, people can still enjoy and be distracted by pleasurable activities. When people are severely depressed, nothing “does it” for them. They just don’t care.
- Weight loss or gain: Many people lose weight when depressed, partly because they lose their appetite or don’t have the energy to eat. However, some people want to eat all the time, especially comfort foods, causing weight gain.
- Sleep problems: Sleep problems are common in depression. Many people have insomnia. They have trouble falling asleep, wake up often during the night, or wake up very early in the morning. They do not find sleep to be restful and may wake up feeling exhausted. Others may find that they sleep too much, especially during the day which, in turn, prevents them from being able to sleep at night.
- Physical changes: For some people with depression, their movements, speech and/or thinking slows down. Their body may feel very heavy, and moving around is exhausting. Others may become agitated and cannot sit still. They may pace, wring their hands or show their agitation in other ways.
- Loss of energy: People with depression find it difficult to complete everyday chores. It takes them much longer to perform tasks at work or home because they lack energy and drive.
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt: When depressed, people may lack self-confidence. They may not assert themselves and may be overwhelmed by feelings of worthlessness. Many people cannot stop thinking about past events. They obsess about having let others down or having said the wrong things, and they feel guilty.
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions: People may not be able to do simple tasks or make decisions on simple matters.
- Suicidal thoughts: People with depression often think they would be better off dead. There is a high risk that they will act on these thoughts.
Albert Ellis, one of the authors, is also one of the founding fathers of cognitive behavioral therapy. This book includes worksheets and exercises that will help you:
• Move past the negative beliefs about yourself that keep you trapped in the depression cycle
• Apply behavioral techniques that therapists use with their clients, such as activity scheduling
• Discover effective ways to cope with feelings of stress, anxiety, and anger
• Avoid procrastinating and learn to anchor the positive changes you make to maintain your progress
Of the 4 books I recommend, this one is the more technical of all of them If you are just starting to explore interventions for depression, I suggest you review my video summarizing ACT here. ACT is an amazing tool, but, as yet I haven't found a text that simplifies it in a practical way. Members of DocSnipes.com have access to my text on the Matrix and Worksheets.
I have included this book though because some people enjoy the more technical writing and this is an amazingly helpful approach. When you click on the link below you will be able to view a Google Preview of the book.
I use the DBT Made Simple book by Sheri Van Dijk for teaching DBT skills in general. This book maintains the same practical, easy to understand format for applying DBT specifically to Bipolar disorder (and/or depression). I cannot say enough positive about her books.
In this book you will:
- Learn mindfulness and acceptance skills
- Cope with depressive and manic episodes in healthy ways
- Manage difficult emotions and impulsive urges
- Maintain relationships with friends and family members
Neuroscientist Alex Korb demystifies the intricate brain processes that cause depression and offers a practical and effective approach to getting better. Based on the latest research in neuroscience, this book provides dozens of straightforward tips you can do every day to rewire your brain and create an upward spiral towards happiness,
Get Enough Quality Sleep. Quality sleep is essential to having good memory, concentration, energy and mood. It is also one of the easiest things to improve. Eat Well. Your body makes the brain chemicals needed to help you focus and stay motivated from the foods you eat. You don't have to be a health nut, but getting adequate protein and a variety of dairy, grains and vegetables is essential. Begin with the end in mind.
While there are many symptoms of depression, each of these symptoms can be caused by other things. Depression indicates a chemical imbalance which can be caused by stress, trauma, negative thinking and more
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