As a teenager, stuck between the hardships and glories of life, never in my mind did I realize that a minor, physical accident would reveal a deeper rooted issue: Depression. Balancing and thriving through life mindlessly allowed for depression to slip right in underneath my nose. I had been in a depressive state for years, unknowingly.
But what is depression? Am I the only one? Why and how did this happen? So many questions lurking around me, and I needed answers.
I refused to take medication and become another statistic because I felt like this needed more attention and a deeper healing. Little did I know how right this feeling was.
I have compiled some information about depression. Information of what depression is, how to build a relationship with depression and keep it at bay, and how to keep pushing forward.
So let me start off with the basics.
What is Depression?
Depression is a fragile, complex, mental disorder that can last for months or years. Depression is experienced in many ways with many forms from seasonal (Seasonal Affective Disorder- SAD) to severe (suicidal). Many individuals in these times of a pandemic have experienced and suffered from SAD, or some form of depression, whether they realize it or not. Let’s get into the basics of what depression is characterized as.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is characterized as a mental disorder that 264 million individuals of all ages worldwide suffer from. Depression consists of persistent sadness and a lack of interest in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities. If this is the case, then that means that literally the whole world would be in an almost constant state of depression. This means that not liking your job or unhappy in a marriage would be considered being in a state of depression. At a certain point, depression would be true by the WHO standards. However, in the scenario given of a job, everyone at some point in their life would have been in depression. For example, in relationships and partnerships, depression would always be prevalent at some point. Is it really considered a mental disorder? What is really is a disorder? A disruption of the normal, a state of confusion? What then is “normal”?
While that simmers in your mind lets further explore depression.
Depression takes place on more than just a physical plane “disorder”, it consists of the spiritual and world. The physical and spiritual creates the soul. If your spiritual world is disconnected, then depression would be imminent. This may include being exhausted with doing good and still being held back or no recognition or blessings that can be seen or recognized. Also, some symptoms of spiritual depression consists of pessimistic self-talk and attacks from negative energy and individuals for reasons that are not meant for you to understand. These spiritual attacks are mental or physical triggering (gas-lighting) that causes you to question yourself to the extent of being stuck in your mind and creating scenarios that do not exist (anxiety).
Yes, depression and anxiety usually go hand-in-hand. There is a reason for that. Anxiety occurs when a situation that is out of your control (physical plane) causes your mind to try to figure it out on its own with no grounds or basis. Depression is that person who is sifting through the pieces trying to put things into place and understand to move forward, while anxiety is that friend that constantly plants seeds of confusion and negative thinking. Anxiety can be good when it comes to situations that are dangerous like cliff-diving, sky-diving, any other physical dangers, but in situations where it’s not dangerous, anxiety becomes an over-reactive protective measure from situations that are of no threat. Keeping anxiety in check and talking it through with different perspectives will keep anxiety under control and not trigger depression.
What Are The Signs, Symptoms, and Feelings?
There are many signs and symptoms of depression whether they are common or not. Some of the symptoms will be with the inner being while some are outwardly shown and can be visibly seen. There is one that I want to say that will and can be shown both inner and outwardly. That symptom is tearfulness. Yes, you can see someone crying for what may seem like no reason at all. This could just be hormones for men and women, but if it shall not be hormones then this may be that overlooked sign. Crying on the inside is very real. No tears may be produced, but inside there is a feeling of weeping, heart palpitations, and changes in breathing patterns. This is a common overlooked symptom. Always check with your physician to be sure that there is NOT a physical issue causing any of the signs and symptoms mentioned, which could be something more severe.
The inner symptoms include sleep disturbances such as having a hard time going to sleep or staying asleep due to intrusive worrying and stressful thoughts. Another form of sleep disturbances includes having excessive sleeping, (later than usual), sleeping at places that you wouldn’t normally sleep, tiredness during exciting or pleasurable activities without prior exhaustion, and constant fatigue.
Appetite disturbances will include little to no appetite, excessive sugar intake, increased alcohol intake, and overeating such as binge eating. These appetite disturbances can lead to rapid weight loss.
Extreme or unusual isolation will also be a sign of someone already in depression or about to go into depression. This is a serious symptom that needs to be caught early. Once someone goes into an extreme or unusual isolation, this could indicate that they have already been in a state of depression for a long time (months) and may not have even realized it. Isolation is where negative thoughts begin to take over and more issues and deeper forms of depression can set in.
Some individuals who go into isolation are those who have been grieving. So, be aware that grieving can trigger depression. Remember, there is a fine line between grieving and depression.
With depression comes mental symptoms with the main and common one being a lack of interest and pleasure in something that was once pleasurable such as intercourse, traveling, a hobby, a celebration, and many more activities. Mental symptoms include the following:
- Poor concentration and memory loss. Due to not being present memory is pushed to the back of the mind. Remembering what happened last week, day or even an hour is lost because nothing is being retained, due to the focus being placed on situations that are out of your control or non-existent. Memory loss and poor concentration can lead to irritability.
- Irritation is a symptom that stems from not having any control, not being able to recall (memory), and feeling lost.
- Another mental symptom includes hopelessness and worthlessness feelings. Once you have come to terms that you have no control, these feelings can sink in. In reality, hopelessness and worthlessness stems from lack of perspective. Once that perspective is changed these feelings can be easily fixed with affirmations, journaling, and a positive environment. However, if you have been wallowing in these feelings, they can lead to anxiety which can lead to depression.
There are more symptoms, but these are the most common and overlooked symptoms. If you experience or realize these in anyone, talk to them or get them help.
Outward symptoms are what many try to go by and can be caught and changed. Some of those easy outward symptoms that can be caught include poor hygiene, dragging, and a short temper. Some lesser caught or seen outward symptoms include sadness when happy. What does that mean? You can’t see sadness if someone is happy, can you? The answer is YES! Sadness when happy looks the following scenarios:
Smiling when the eyes don’t smile. There is a physical reaction that occurs with the eyes when the mouth forms a smile. If it is a genuine smile the eyes will follow suit and even brighten. When it is a forced smile, the physical reaction of the eyes will not follow suit, the eyes will look dead while the smile may give the appearance of a true smile.
Unresponsiveness goes by many names such as “shutting down,” “checking out,” and “zoning out.” How do you know if someone is unresponsive? It’s easy to spot, yet hard to understand. By easy to spot, this means you can physically see unresponsiveness. For example, the person looks robotic, they are mechanical and no logical thinking, they may not laugh at a scenario that calls for genuine laughing, cry for a situation that calls for crying, respond to a social situation that calls for social interaction (this is different from being shy). Some situations of where unresponsiveness is not understood include the following scenarios. When you hear or you may say to that unresponsive person, “Oh, they must be in deep thought” or “I don’t know what’s wrong with them,” “Hello, are you even in there,” or “What’s wrong with you?” If the comments have gotten to this point and have been often, then that person is already in a depressive state and may or may not know it. Unresponsiveness is a protection mechanism of the brain to protect itself from further damage. The brain blocks all further activity and processing from the outside to preserve the identity of the individual.
What I Experienced
Even though my first depression attack was experienced in 2009 in college, after my syncope (fainting) accident during my graduating month of high school, I had actually been living through depression since 8th grade. Yes, 4 years before the rooted issue came to light. I thought it was just ups and downs of the teenage years and the stress of my home life.
The end of high school was supposed to be the happiest time of my life. I graduated, got accepted into a University, had close to a full-ride with minimal loans to take out, 1st year of university and living on campus. I should have been living it up, celebrating, and building lasting relationships. Instead I was wallowing, weary inside, feeling alone, sad all the time, isolating, and living in my mind. I was faking a lot of things such as being happy, having fun, smiling, and enjoying where I was at. I had a tough time keeping friends. I knew that something was wrong, but I couldn’t pinpoint it. The attack lasted until the end of my Sophmore year. I could not shake the feeling no matter what I did to try and remain happy. It became second nature to me. Even after the attack was finished, I didn’t feel much difference in my energy. I still thought that I was in the attack. The only difference that I experienced, was focus. I was back to reality, no more fog brain and moving through life in a shell.
Even though the energy lingered, there was still an increased risk of spiraling back into the darkness.
Over the years I was able to pick up on certain feelings and signs surrounding my energy and emotions that let me know that an attack was coming. I’ll talk about some of those symptoms next.
A mental sign that I experienced was confusion and comprehension loss. I was always confused about what was going on or what I was doing. It was constant brain fog. My hearing was drawn into the confusion where I would hear what was being said, but nothing was being processed. I would find myself asking people to repeat themselves often and still not comprehend what they said. I would just fake hearing them and move on, feeling bad for asking them to repeat themselves. This led to my emotional signs.
Irritation and frustration. Yes, being irritated with myself when I couldn’t comprehend what someone was saying. Being irritated with my confusion. Oh and did I forget to mention being irritated (short tempered) with people because no one understood what I was going through. There was so much going on in the inside that it caused frustration and irritation to be shown on the outside.
A related but un-related sign that I personally experienced was migraines. The migraines came from my fall, blunt force to my head from hitting the ground, simulated whiplash which was not picked up until 8 years later. During that time I began experiencing migraines, which I would later find out that it triggers my depression. Along with having an migraines is something called an Aura where you can sense and even experience a migraine before it happens with sensory disturbance warnings. The aura actually helps to foretell depression with there being similar signs that can be caught preventing the depression aftermath. This is just a realization that I have experienced.
With depression, everyone experiences different types, triggers, symptoms, and signs. I have experienced many signs and symptoms, and types including Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and mild to severe depression that includes an attempted, unsuccessful suicide.
How I Drew Myself Out of Depression (and you can too)!
Drawing yourself out of depression will be the hardest thing that you will ever have to do. This is due to the fact that you will need to work against your own mind. Like they say in sports, your hardest component is yourself.
Certain herbal teas provide many detoxing benefits that helps improve your mood and cleanse out toxins that causes the negative energy within the body.
Being lost in and guarded by my mind, drinking tea is one of the best forms of drawing yourself out. I say this in the best way possible. Since appetite may be lost and fluid intake occurs more often, adding detoxing items to your fluid intake will cleanse the body of negative stressors and toxins. When in depression, I would make green tea, lemon, and honey tea with some ginseng (if there was some on hand). These antioxidant, immune system, gut boosting, mind stimulating, energy boosting ingredients allowed for my mind and body to get that extra boost that it needed. Drinking it cold was an added benefit of shocking the body improving circulation and happiness levels. Drinking it warm allowed for relaxation which, depending on your situation may be needed in order for the body to re-energize and reorganize.
My go-to detoxifying tea concoctions that I drank included:
- Lemon Gingerade– ginger, lemon, honey
- Abundance of Comfort– turmeric, almond milk, honey, cinnamon,
- Fruitful Sensations– lemon, blueberries, honey, green tea
- Power Arouser– gunpowder green tea, honey,
- Relaxing Reviver– peppermint, chamomile, honey
These items are readily available and easy to throw together with amazing benefits working together to draw you into a better, happier, free space.
Water may seem the most obvious thing to do. Did you know that it is the most overlooked thing to do?
Staying hydrated can actually improve your mood, by keeping your cells and organs hydrated to help carry out its everyday functions with ease. Drinking plenty of water is the easiest thing to do to combat depression. Water will help ease fatigue, prevent hallucinations, ensure proper blood flow, improve digestion, and help increase your mood. Drinking water is the necessary need to combat and keep depression at bay.
Water not only gives life, but is itself life. Everything on earth doesn’t need food, but it needs water. If getting water is hard for you to do, set a reminder on your phone or device or keep my water intake printable with you to be sure that you stay on your toes.
Water can also be beneficial in the form of being present. Yes! Just being in the presence of bodies of water (river, bay, lake, pond, ocean, sea) is the ultimate mood booster to keep depression at bay. This presence of water encourages your mind and body to be put at ease and cleared. Did you know that most decisions and vacations take place near or in water? Ever been in deep thought in a shower and came out with a clear mind or course of decision? Water is meant to heal, refresh, and energize.
Positive Thinking and Staying Upbeat
Positive thinking when your mood is decreasing may seem tough. However, there are ways that you can have positive thinking and stay upbeat. Some of those ways include reading or speaking positive affirmations and listening to upbeat or meditative sounds and music such as high vibe and instrumentals.
Ah, nature. The best place for grounding and being alone with your thoughts and at peace. There is a moment where you being present in the moment is not only a realization, but an action. From the scents, to the sounds, to the sights, the stimulation of the senses ties in all of the things that you need to get to the point of pure peace.
Reading will allow you to keep your mind preoccupied and in the constant state of creativity, which boosts your mood. Creativity stimulates and balances your mindset and mood. Some things to read are articles, novels such as romance (there’s always creativity there), inspirational items such as daily verses, affirmations, and devotionals. For those of you who are spiritual and religious or believe in a higher being, devotionals are a great way to gain a different perspective on what the lesson is that you may need to hear to change or boost your mood.
When it comes to having a decreased mood, there may be a disconnection with the spiritual world or your higher being or creator. This may be a time for you to pause, pray, and read your religious texts. There may be a message that needs to be received.
If you can’t find the time to read a devotional or religious text, then prayer may be an option to receive a message or clear your mind for a more straight and narrow thought process. When it comes to spiritual uplifting, these are some activities that can be performed if your mood begins to subside.
Mood journals are an excellent way to help track when your emotions and mood decreases or drastically changes. When you start to notice that your mood has been decreasing, take action to help increase your mood by doing some activities. Some of these activities may include increasing water intake, reading a book or article that helps boost your creativity, exercise, start drinking some herbal teas or a mild detox, state affirmations to yourself, pray, brain dump and empty your thoughts, or simply take a shower or bath. Water is healing and therapeutic with the ability to ease your mind and detox your body.
Food may be the hardest thing to get into your body during times of a depression attack, but it is the most beneficial. Being in a household where someone can cook for you is extremely beneficial considering that all you have to do is try to get something into the system. Being alone like myself is harder. The energy to cook or stay focused while cooking is the hardest task of your life. No appetite and no energy to cook is a recipe for major malnutrition. The best foods to have on hand include immune, energy, and circulation boosting foods. Many of these foods needed for these benefits include B vitamins. B vitamins convert food into energy. Many provide proper blood flow of healthy red blood cells. This energy is a slow energy, but lasting which is needed for depression. Results may take up to a few days to see and feel, but is worth the wait.
So let’s break down the B vitamins. To have constant DNA being made properly, and healthy red blood cell formation and circulation, increase your intake of Folate (B9) and Hydroxocobalamin (B12). B12 can be found in fish, poultry, eggs, and milk while B9 can be found in dark leafy green vegetables, beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, fruits, seafood, and whole grains. In conjunction with healthy red blood cells and DNA, try to add in something that helps for the hemoglobin within the red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout the body. To do this add in Pyridoxine (B6) by eating poultry, peanuts, soy beans, oats, and bananas. Another added benefit of Pyridoxine is that it stores energy from protein and carbohydrates in food. So if by any chance you obtain extra protein and carbohydrates in your system during or before your depression attack, vitamin B6 will store that energy for later.
There are 3 main B vitamins that you will want to have in your system before or in the early stages of your depression to avoid it turning from mild to severe. For neurological signs and symptoms such as headaches, numbness, tingling, weakness, prickling or sensory disturbances dealing with the nervous system, Thiamine (B1) is what your need. B1 can be found in nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables such as oranges, potatoes, asparagus, kale, cauliflower, and eggs. For those signs and symptoms that involve eyesight then Riboflavin (B2) is needed. B2 can be found in salmon, green vegetables, and dairy such as yogurt, cheese, and eggs. To prevent or fight more serious signs and symptoms of fatigue, aggressiveness, hallucinations, and suicidal behavior, then an increased intake of Niacin (B3) is needed. B3 can be found in chicken breast (lean), tuna, salmon, turkey, almonds, peanut butter, and brown rice.
What To Do and What Not To Do
There are many mistakes and judgements that are made to people suffering from depression. Many of these are made because most don’t understand how to deal with someone who has depression. Below is a list of do’s and don’ts.
- Call someone lazy. Their mind has protected itself by immobilizing the body to prevent any further mental and any new physical damage.
- Tell them to cheer up, pull themselves out of it, or snap out of it. They mentally cannot cheer up, snap out, or pull themselves out of it, if they could they would not be in a depressive state. Depression has to ride out. Try taking them physically outside in the sunlight, fresh air, and nature to become grounded instead.
- Tell them its all in their mind. Yes, it may be in their mind. Depression is a mental attack. Telling the individual experiencing depression that it is all in their mind does not help them get better. In fact, this could worsen the situation causing them to spiral in a negative direction. Saying it’s all in their mind is like accusing them that it is their fault that they are depressed and stating that you have no empathy for them. In other words, you don’t care or they are “crazy.”
- Tell them that you thought they were strong. No matter how strong you are, depression can occur. Depression has no limit for age, race, gender, economical status, strength (mental or physical), or life form. If depression wants you, it will have you.
- Ignore the signs and symptoms. As soon as you realize that something is “off,” “out of sorts,” or “out of the ordinary” with a friend, family member, or any individual dear and near to you, try to identify what it may be as soon as possible. The sooner the better. The longer you wait to acknowledge and identify, the worse the depression may become.
- Be patient. Dealing with someone with depression takes time to run the course. It can be from days to years. This can be frustrating and draining.
- Create a schedule for them and do it with them. Routine is important for someone with depression. Trying to occupy the mind is something that should be done. This helps draw the person out of their mind. Do not just create the schedule and expect them to do it because it will not get done. You have to do the schedule with them a few times until they get the hang of it and it becomes a routine. This allows for them to have company to do the schedule with, normalizing it.
- Listen to them. Sometimes venting is what is needed to allow the mind to clear itself out, organize, and find its own solution. When listening, do not offer input, just actively listen to the individual. Intently listening will allow you to catch certain information that you may not have known or realized. This may also allow you to catch any further signs of danger such as suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, and aggressive thoughts.
- Find support programs for them and make sure that they go. If you are unable to take time out for or tend to the individual, then find a support program for them to attend. Do not just tell them about the program because chances are they will not willingly go. Be sure that they attend the program by taking them and picking them up or finding transportation to and from the program.
- Educate yourself. If depression is new to you or you just want more information be sure to educate yourself. There are plenty of sources out there today like the library, internet, guidance centers, and hospitals that offer information and classes of helping people with depression with the added benefit of being free.
- Take care of yourself. If you are dealing with someone with depression, please take care of your own mental and physical health. It can be draining and frustrating and may even draw you in without you realizing.
- Stay hydrated. Water is the best method for hydration, considering that your body is primarily composed of water and for everything to run as it should smoothly, efficiently, and properly. Try to stay as hydrated as much as possible to be sure that your body and your mind continues to function at its maximum capacity.
- Continue positive thinking by using affirmation and verse reminders. Whether you set an alarm on your phone, write it in your scheduler, schedule yourself an email to be sent to you, or even do these affirmations when you wake up, go to sleep, or during your lunch break, anything works. Take time out of your day or multiple times throughout the day to speak positivity to yourself and into your life.
- Try to be around water such as a bath, shower, pond, lake, river, or beach. Any form of water that allows you to think, zone out, or be at peace. Be in water if possible, but around it works just as well. Water is healing mentally, physically, and emotionally. Allow water to do its work.
- Track your mood. It will foretell when depression may be imminent. Slowly seeing how your mood changes without any specific situation causing that change will allow you to prepare yourself.
- Pray/meditate/write and empty thoughts daily otherwise known as a brain dump. Clearing your mind from repetitive thoughts is a beneficial thing that you can do to assist your brain. Brain dumps clear the mind and add solutions and clarity to prevent anxiety.
- Get out in nature and ground yourself. Dig your feet in the ground, sit in the grass, look up at the sky, or hug a tree. Yes, this may even include talking to yourself. Talking in nature is a beautiful experience of communicating with the world, literally. Observe nature with your senses sights, feelings, smells, and sounds around.
- Keep creativity flowing with adult coloring books, reading, puzzles, listing to music, writing, and gratitude journals. Do something that keeps your creativity flowing and your inner child happy.
- Avoid alcohol at all costs. If you cannot physically avoid alcohol, limit it to as low as possible. Alcohol actually enhances the effects and onset of depression.
- Eat B Vitamin Rich Foods. Eating B vitamin rich foods will all allow your body to produce healthy red blood cells and hemoglobin that will provide proper circulation and oxygen blood flow throughout the body. Eating these foods will allow for your body to prepare to fight depression, in some cases even prevent it completely.
- Control stressful situations if possible. We cannot control every situation that happens to us, but controlling how you react to the situation and actively assessing the situation can help reduce arising stressful scenarios.
- Float therapy is a way to clear your mind and take you away for the world for a brief moment of time. I recently discovered the benefits of Floating for physical reasons which you can read here. but have learned that it can also be used to prevent situations such as depression. If you are experiencing depression, be sure to speak with your physician first to be sure it will be safe for you. Please adhere to this warning since floating involves sensory deprivation.
Although depression is expressed by millions of individuals, not one form of depression is expressed or experienced the same by anyone. Depression is not limited to a specific demographic, status, or strength. Depression has an evil and a beauty of inconsistency. Depression is both scientific and spiritual with many misconceptions and interpretations. No matter the idea of this disorder, the truth is that Depression is REAL and not to be taken lightly. It can range from seasonal or situational to severe with dire consequences. While inner, mental, and emotional effects can be felt by the individual there are common outward signs and symptoms to keep an out for such as unresponsiveness, poor hygiene, short temper (frustration), dragging, and sadness when happy.
Even if someone seems like they are back to normal, always remain on guard. The energy may still linger causing an increased risk of spiraling back into depression.
We have all at some point made a mistake by doing at least one of the “don’ts” with individuals with depression due to not knowing how to properly address or deal with it. Now and days, there is no excuse for not knowing. There are plenty of resources out in the world that can help you understand and help someone with depression.
There may not be much that can be done to stop or cure depression but there are ways of preventing and drawing yourself or someone else out of depression. Some of these ways include drinking herbal and detoxifying teas, water, being in nature, positive thinking and self-talk, prayer, eating beneficial foods such as B vitamin rich, tracking your mood, keeping your creativity flowing, avoiding stressful situations and alcohol, experiencing Float therapy, and in some cases medication.
Psychology Today: Just type in your zip code and change the issue filter to “Depression” to help find a local support group in your area.
If you or someone you know is in a crisis call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to contact a 24-hour crisis center. If you don’t feel comfortable calling text “MHA” to 741741.
If the crisis may or is causing a imminent danger call 9-1-1 or immediately go to your nearest emergency room.
I have curated a multi-functional FREE depression printable as a guide and workbook to help you understand, track, and take preventative measures to outsmart depression.
The Depression guide includes a:
- What is depression basic info page with symptoms and tips
- Mood tracker and journal for venting
- Hydration chart with tips to keep you hydrated
- Tea and benefits section
- Spiritual and Affirmation section for positive empowering statements and activities to do, to keep you spiritually healthy
- Support and Resources guide
- Notes section for clearing your mind
I pray that this information has been deemed helpful to help you better understand depression. If you know anyone or have experienced depression yourself please feel free to pass this information along by sharing this post.
If this post has helped you or you would like to chat, feel free to comment down below in the comment section.