Depression saps your energy, leaving you feeling tired and depleted. As a result, finding the motivation or energy to seek help may be challenging. However, it is easier to feel more in control and improve your overall sense of well-being when you can spot warning signs and know what to do.

Kounsel Live recently hosted Nishat Shams to discuss how to stay mentally fit. She talked about tips that can help you stay mentally fit. This topic is vital because of the increase in mental health conditions worldwide, with depression as one of the leading conditions.

What does Depression Mean?

Also known as major depressive disorder, depression can have severe consequences on your thoughts and behaviors. People who are depressed may experience feelings of sadness and/or reduced interest in activities they once enjoyed. It can impair your performance at work and at home while leading to many emotional and physical problems.

What is depression? 

Study shows that approximately 1 in 15 adults suffer from depression each year, while 1 in 6 people will suffer from depression at some point in their lives. This proves that the subject of overcoming depression is of critical importance.  

Situational Depression Versus Clinical Depression

In the same way that feeling sad does not mean that you are depressed, situational depression is different from clinical depression. A person that is experiencing situational depression is not necessarily clinically depressed. Also, with proper management, someone who is clinically depressed may not experience situational depression.

Clinical depression is also known as major depressive disorder. Here, the individual experiences a severe form of depression that is not a result of any event and requires medical management. On the other hand, situational depression is often referred to as an adjustment disorder with a depressed mood. Here, the individual usually finds relief when the situation is resolved or talks about it.

After an individual does not recover from situational depression, they may experience clinical depression. At this point, their situation is worsened and requires quick help, starting with a diagnosis.

The Difference Between Depression and Grief

It is essential to note that depression is not the same as being sad or grieving. Although the grieving process shares some characteristics with depression, it is a natural response to situations and is unique to each individual.

Understanding the difference between grief and depression can help overcome depression as it is easy to seek the support and treatment required.

What is the difference between depression and grief?

Grief and depression can co-exist. Some people may suffer from depression when they lose a loved one, their job, or is a victim of an event. When this happens, grieving is more intense and lasts longer.

What Causes Depression

Anyone can be depressed, even if they seem happy and jovial on the outside. It is often not about what is on the outward; it results from the internal workings.

What Causes Depression

Symptoms of Depression

If you are experiencing five or more of the following symptoms daily or almost daily for two weeks or longer, you may be having a depressive episode.

Top 9 symptoms of depression

It's important to note that not everyone who is depressed has suicidal thoughts. Even if you haven't shown any specific suicide or self-harm behaviors, or if your symptoms aren't as severe or chronic as the symptoms listed above, you can still seek help.

Are there Physical Signs of Depression?

Yes. Many patients with depression first go to their doctor because they are experiencing physical symptoms.  These may include:

Physical signs of depression

The first symptoms you notice may be physical, even before seeing the mental symptoms of depression. Going to the doctor will help you accurately diagnose your symptoms' nature.

How to Diagnose Depression

Depression cannot be diagnosed through laboratory tests. However, your doctor can rule out the possibility of it by conducting some medical tests. To rule out other illnesses that may be contributing to your mood, your doctor may order blood tests. An infection, a thyroid problem, or severe changes in hormone levels can all produce symptoms that are strikingly similar to depression.

In cases where your doctor can discover no other explanation for your symptoms, an assessment by a certified mental health professional may be recommended.

The mental expert looks for specific symptoms of depression to identify if a patient is depressed. It's normal for your doctor or therapist to ask questions about your mood, behavior, and routine. In addition, you will be questioned about the mental health history of your family members. You may also be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your level of depression. This can help you determine how severe your mental health condition is.

What happens after a depression diagnosis?

Before now, all mood disorders used to be grouped together. Now, your doctor will identify the specific disorder or subtype of depression that you are experiencing.

For instance, a physician will assess whether a patient suffers from major depression, chronic depression including dysthymia, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), bipolar disorder, or another type of clinical depression.

It can be challenging to discuss depression with your doctor if you suspect that you are depressed. You may feel humiliated or alone. But, you are not as alone as you may believe because approximately 1 in 5 people will develop a mental illness during their lives.

Additionally, depression rarely resolves on its own and may worsen without treatment. Therefore, it is essential to seek help while experiencing symptoms. Your primary care physician is a great starting point. They will be able to help you sort through your symptoms and possibly send you to a psychologist, psychiatrist, or therapist who can provide further assistance.

How to Stay Mentally Fit and overcome Depression

1. Avoid social media. Studies show that young people who use social media are more likely to suffer from depression. Cyberbullying, sleep loss, and feelings of loneliness and hopelessness may contribute to depression via social media.

Avoid social media - How to Stay Mentally Fit and overcome Depression

To stay mentally fit, you have to set time limitations on your use of social media and consciously engage in positive interactions while cutting out negative ones.

2. Follow a routine and do what you love. Some days, getting out of bed is difficult when you're depressed. Having a daily regimen, on the other hand, can be beneficial.

  • According to research, creating and adhering to regular daily routines may boost mental health. Being dedicated to daily practices is one way to ensure that you wake up each morning motivated and ready to move around.
  • If you have habits you love that may reduce your symptoms, stick to them. Meditation, practicing gratitude, and a self-care routine are all ways to help you cope with stress.overcome-Depression

3. Stay connected with the people you love. It's tough to mingle, let alone try to really connect with others when you don't feel good about yourself. However, studies show that social connection helps many people prevent and reduce depression symptoms.

  • A study found that persons with the poorest social interactions are twice as likely to suffer from depression as those with the best social relationships.
  • This shows that connecting with others makes us more resilient to life's ups and downs. This resilience can include emotional support and shared resources or financial aid.
  • Focus on people that can provide positive vibes and lighten your mood

4. Stay in the present. This practice is also called mindfulness. It means that you have to develop a habit of not worrying about what is coming and just enjoy where you are in the moment. Also, try to avoid self-criticism as much as possible. Even if you struggle with self-judgment, gently bring yourself back to the here and now. According to the research, self-compassion has been linked to greater feelings of self-worth and self-confidence.

Stay in the present - How to Stay Mentally Fit and overcome Depression

When to Seek Help?

Depression is most difficult to diagnose and treat because it is difficult to recognize. Unfortunately, almost half of depressed individuals never receive a diagnosis or treatment. Failure to receive treatment can be fatal as about 10 percent of depressed individuals commit suicide.

When depression is negatively impacting your life, such as interfering with relationships, work troubles, or family conflicts, and there is no clear solution, you should get help to prevent things from worsening, especially if these symptoms last for an extended period.

Seek help immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings.

About Nishat Shams

Dr. Nishat Shams is an accomplished and dedicated licensed psychologist specializing in diagnosing and treating emotional disturbances and mental health disorders. You can connect with her on Kounsel.