Feeling of Depression
I have struggled with a general feeling of depression, every day, for years. I can still go to work and do what I need to do. But I am always tired, and achy, and feeling low. Any suggestions?
Signed: Always Low
Dear Always Low,
What you are describing could be signs of a mental health issue (like PDD – Persistent Depressive Disorder). However, it could also be a sign of something else more physical – like an iron deficiency, or poor sleep, or inadequate nutrition, or a thyroid condition, or a hormone imbalance. etc. Or it might be something related more to the lifestyle habits you have developed – perhaps you don’t focus on meeting your own needs, or you take on too much in one day, or you are under a lot of stress, or you forget to add downtime to your day, etc. Or it could be an indication of some unresolved trauma from a painful event in your life that you have not emotionally finished processing – like a death or a loss of some kind that made you feel devastated or helpless or alone or fragile in some way. Or, it could also be a combination of a few of these different aspects, happening at the same time.
According to the CMHA (in 2017), 1 in 8 Canadians will develop a major depressive disorder over the course of their lives (and this number increase to 11% in our youth population). The WHO reports (2017) that depression is the leading cause of ill health and disability issues, worldwide, when treatment is not sought. But the good news is, with effective support, depression can be lessened and sometimes completely eradicated, even if a person has been diagnosed with a chronic depressive disorder. I am certainly in no position to diagnose your symptoms, but I would suggest you see a dr and rule out anything related to your physical health, before or while you explore the possibility of a mental health issue as well.
If you feel confident that your issues are at least somewhat rooted in your psychological wellbeing, then you need to be able to talk things out. Turn to your friends and family, and open up about how you are feeling, as often as possible. Start to do some daily journaling or creative art therapy techniques; call a Helpline; join some Peer Support or Therapy Groups; and share openly about what you are experiencing. Part of the need you have is not so much about finding a solution for the depression, but rather its about the need for a release of the emotions themselves, in a safe and non-judgmental way. Depression feeds off of any negative feelings that stay bottled up.
I would also suggest you speak to a mental health therapist who specializes in depression. It can be scary to feel so out of control within your own self. Sometimes, other factors play a huge part in triggering feelings of depression and the depression develops as more of a warning sign of something deeper that is being ignored/overlooked. If those root causes are appropriately addressed, the depression may also be eliminated. Other times, the depression itself may be the root issue that needs attention and treatment. Once you know better what is actually happening, you can then learn how to effectively address the cycles/patterns in your brain/body in such a way that you feel less helpless/powerless over the reactions you are experiencing.
A well educated/experienced therapist will be able to give you many suggestions for how to create natural change within your body chemistry, as a counter to the depression. In some cases, prescription medication might be needed to help your body create the chemical balance necessary to address the depression. But prescriptive remedies are not the only ways that these imbalances can be addressed. Homeopathic doctors (Naturopaths) can also provide terrific insight for ways to more organically try to rest your brain/body balance. Proper diet and exercise play a huge role in the fight against depression (and many other mental health issues too) – so speaking to a nutritionist or a trainer can be other options to consider. And you WILL need to learn how to take care of yourself differently. You have got to be able to find ways to nurture yourself more – to reintroduce activities into your life that bring you joy and peace and calm and self care, to the degree that it counters the depression more effectively.
Most importantly, recognize that you cannot address this alone. You have been trying, for years, it seems. And, you have been successful because you have found ways to keep functioning. But it seems that you have also come to the conclusion that you are out of ideas. Now it’s time to create a team of supportive resources that you can lean on, in order to take the next step in truly addressing these challenges with even more success.
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