Before You Medicate: What’s Really Behind Your Depression?

You’re tired all the time. Perhaps you feel joyless, or like life have lost its color. You may be tearful for no reason or feel like giving upon certain projects entirely. If your depression has become severe, you may have already considered treatment options. Taking steps such as calling 911 or going to the nearest ER to ensure your safety is always #1. You may have also considered meeting with a psychiatrist. There are many potential contributing factors to depressive symptoms and there may be some simple lifestyle changes you may also consider which may help with your mood.

Forcing yourself to run on empty

Many of us take our health for granted. Providing we’re not actively sick, we might assume all is well and carry on, regardless of the body’s subtle warning signs to pause and recuperate. It’s obvious that lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and excess stress can strain the body, but it’s hard to appreciate what a profound effect this can have on mood.

A sense of well-being may seem like something abstract, but it is rooted physically in a healthy body. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, you may be overdue for some self-care. Be honest about how well you’re taking care of your physical needs, and make small, daily steps to “fill up your tank.” Get seven to nine hours of sleep, keep hydrated and fill up on fruits and vegetables. You may also consider getting tested for vitamin deficiencies.

Getting trapped in routine

Of course, depression can hit when you’re in peak health and life looks just fine, at least on paper. Before you assume your depression is just an anomaly, look at your lifestyle and ask honestly where your inspiration comes from. Inspiration is just that – a breath of fresh air into your day. Even if there doesn’t seem to be anything in your life to warrant feeling so down, consider what’s not there.

Is there room in your week for novelty, challenge, and passion? Are you often stimulated mentally, and do you have a source of spiritual guidance or a feeling that you’re part of something greater than yourself? When was the last time you learned something new? If you’re feeling depressed because life’s routine has become monotonous and lackluster, the fix may be easy: you might try being spontaneous. Give yourself permission to bend the rules, to play, or to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You may be surprised at what you find.

Avoiding a bigger problem

One of the key features of depression is the feeling that everything is hopeless and that you are helpless in making any difference. But a little digging may reveal the root cause of this attitude, which could be related to feeling unable to act in the face of a particular dilemma. Are there any problems in your life that you’ve quietly given up on solving? Could there be a decision to make or a boundary you need to affirm which you are avoiding for fear of the consequences? Is there something you’ve perhaps been in denial about?

Being immobilized by life’s challenges can soon start to feel like depression. When we lack the courage to face our issues head-on, the next step is often to think, “well, I resent this situation, but what can I do about it?” A depressing thought indeed! If you suspect that your depression is actually disempowerment from being in a bad situation, there is only one way forward: action. It may be leaving an unhealthy relationship, quitting a job or being honest about how some choices are not working for you anymore.

It would be wonderful if depression could be fixed quickly with an over-the-counter pill, but often, there are many contributing factors and finding the root of your symptoms may take a little detective work. You may consider seeking a psychologist or psychiatrist for assistance with depression, with whom you may explore treatment options such as medications and psychotherapy.

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