Things You Should Know About Depression

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What is depression?

Depression is characterized by at least two weeks of persistent low mood.  Depression affects your energy level, your self-esteem, and more. It can away your ability to enjoy things that you once found enjoyable or meaningful. 

Depression isn’t the same thing as just feeling sad. When bad things happen to us, or life is stressful, it’s appropriate for us to feel bad about them. That’s just part of being alive. But when those feelings spiral out of control and affect our daily life for long stretches of time, that’s when you need to look at treatment.

Depression is an illness. Just like any other illness, it can be treated. Just as people with diabetes don't have the appropriate amount of insulin, people with depression don't have the appropriate amount of certain chemicals in the brain that enable them to experience life the way they should. Telling people to “try harder,” or to “cheer up,” isn’t particularly helpful. You don’t tell a person with a broken leg to “get over it.” You give them time to treat their condition. You encourage them. You help where you can and you don’t push them into making it worse. Helping someone through depression is very similar.

Image: Chris Barbalis, via Unsplash.

Cover image: Marantha Pizarras, Unsplash.

Did you know...

  • Just saying the words "thank you" can measurably improve your mood. Researchers can actually measure happiness and changes in brain structure when people practiced regular "grateful thinking." This included things like writing thank you notes, writing gratitude journal entries, mindfully counting their blessings, and thanking friends. It may be helpful in overcoming depression!
  • A hearty laugh is good for the heart. Laughing can increase blood flow by 20%. Additionally, looking on the bright side can help you live longer. Studies have shown that a more optimistic outlook is linked to a healthier heart, lower blood pressure, and a lower risk for coronary artery disease.
  • Have you ever told your husband something and he promptly forgets it? It's not his fault, actually. It really is because he's a man. The hippocampus (the part of the brain that deals with memory) begins to shrink with age faster in men than it does in women. That's why you can remember everything, and he can't!
  • Starting to feel claustrophobic? The smells of apples may help keep your claustrophobic feelings at bay according to a 1995 study by Dr. Alan Hirsch. Green apples, specifically, helped people change their perception of their space. Maybe they thought of expansive apple orchards? Cucumbers and barbecue made the feelings worse.
  • Are you currently or often tired? As contradictory as it may sound, one of the best things you can do is exercise! It gives you more energy by improving your blood flow and increasing your oxygen throughout your body. You don't need to do much; a brisk walk is all it takes!