Marshall Stevenson
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Understanding and Battling Depression

There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

For hundreds of millions of people around the world (300 million, to be exact, according to the World Health Organization), depression is a daily reality. Depression is a debilitating thing, and it can steal the joy from your life while robbing you of your productivity, your relationships, and the other things that make you feel useful and loved.

But you don’t have to let your depression call the shots for you. If you are able to identify depression and get the help you need, you could lead a fulfilling and active life. Here’s what everyone should know about depression and treatment.

Identifying Depression

What does depression look like? What does it feel like?

Depression can feel like being sad, or it can feel like not feeling much at all. Many depressed people describe a sort of emptiness or lack of emotion. In many ways, the symptoms of depression aren’t so different from what we experience when we’re temporarily feeling blue. The big difference, though, is that depression doesn’t seem to go away and begins to affect your daily life. If your work, relationships, or other features of your life are suffering because of your sadness, then you’re dealing with depression.

Other symptoms of depression include a lack of energy, poor sleep, and even physical pains such as headaches and cramps.

Anyone can be depressed, but some groups are more susceptible to the condition than others. Older folks may be more likely to be depressed. Teens are also at high risk—rates of depression among adolescents and teenagers are actually on the rise.

Your Lifestyle as an Antidepressant

You can limit the effects of depression and even begin to feel happier if you make some lifestyle changes. Before we get started, though, you should know that going it alone is not a good idea. While you can and should change your lifestyle to improve your situation, you will be much better off if you seek help from a professional. We’ll talk more about that in the next section.

In the meantime, you should know that your mental health and physical health are connected in all sorts of ways. It’s a good idea to eat well and get exercise. In addition to keeping you in better shape, it will actually improve your mood, your energy levels, and even your happiness.

Getting the Help You Need

When you’re depressed, you have an illness. If you want to understand depression, you need to view it as akin to physical sickness. You would never avoid the doctor if you had cancer or a broken leg, so why would you avoid your doctor when it’s your mind that is sick?

If you’re suffering from depression, then you need to seek help from a mental health professional. You can start with your primary care provider, who may be able to refer you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. Or you can call your health insurance provider, who can help you understand what’s covered.

Either way, look for a professional who you can speak to regularly. And consider inpatient care, too—rehab centers aren’t just for people with addictions (though if you’re suffering from addiction as well as depression, you should know that some institutions can handle both). Look for care centers that suit your situation, experts who run teen treatment centers recommend, and be sure to follow up with proper care afterward.

With the right experts on your side and your own commitment to addressing your illness, you may be able to dramatically curb the symptoms of your depression and live a happier, more fulfilling life.

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