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Dealing With a Depressive Episode

Many faces of depression

Depression is an unfortunately common mental health issue. Many people face or will face depression every year. The key aspects of depression center on negative thoughts, bad or low moods, and diminished energy. People tend to feel hopeless, helpless, or worthless. They cannot find joy or even energy to maintain their regular activities. These feelings feed into a feedback loop of social isolation, which exacerbates the feelings of alienation and inescapability. 

There are many types of depression, with a depressive disorder being the most common. Other forms include:

  • persistent depressive disorder, which is a longer-term form of depression during which someone experiences a range of severity of symptoms;
  • psychotic disorder, which is characterized by the inclusion of psychotic episodes such as delusions or hallucinations in association with depressive symptoms;
  • depression is also a key aspect of bipolar disorder, which is alternatingly associated with mania, hyperactivity, or extreme mood swings;
  • postpartum depression is a type of depression experienced by mothers after giving birth;
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder is a form of depression that occurs during colder months and is associated with changes in the environment and behavior.

What can trigger depression?

The onset of depression occurs at different times, under different circumstances, and takes different forms for each person experiencing it. However, some common changes or stimuli tend to trigger a depressive episode for those suffering from one of the many forms of depression. These generally include internal or individual stimuli such as changes in behavior, daily work, sleep routines or diet, increased stress, increased sensation of isolation or alienation, medical or other mental health issues. Triggers can also include external negative stimuli such as abuse, trauma, or a significant life change outside of your control. Some medications can also cause depression. 

What is a depressive episode?

Clinically speaking, a depressive episode is diagnosed when multiple symptoms of depression persist for two weeks or longer. Symptoms of depression are diagnosed when the emotional-psychological toll or experience of the symptom is considered more severe than normal. Symptoms of depression include: 

  • negative emotions associated with low self-esteem; 
  • feelings of alienation; 
  • feelings of incapability to escape these feelings;
  • feelings associated with anxiety;
  • changes in behavior such as the decline in appetite or slowed speech; 
  • severe decreases in energy and other factors making it difficult to complete day-to-day basis activities; 
  • psychosomatic physical discomforts;
  • loss of interest in life, including suicidal ideation. 

Managing depressive episodes

Managing a depressive episode on your own can be at least daunting and at most impossible. However, some psychological and behavioral techniques can help you identify, understand, and cope with a depressive episode. The first step to identifying and understanding your depression is to understand what stimuli or psycho-physical behaviors precede the onset of depressive symptoms. 

Identifying and understanding your depressive symptoms as a psycho-physical bodily response to stimuli can position you to take an empowered role in trying to avoid or manage these triggers and your response to them. Mindfulness is a potent weapon against depression symptoms. It would help if you recognized that the negative thoughts you are experiencing are the result of a patterned hyper-response and do not indicate everyday reality. Challenge yourself to look at and see negative thought patterns as they arise so that you can meet them head-on and replace them with more positive, compassionate thoughts. Taking time to breathe and just notice and appreciate the world around you can be a lifeline for respite from depressive symptoms. It can help calm your body’s physiological stress responses. 

It may be difficult (when you are inundated in negative and self-harmful thought patterns) to remember that you need and deserve time to take care of yourself. However, remembering self-care, being compassionate toward yourself, and forgiving yourself for not being able to function your best will go a long way toward easing your stress and breaking the unhealthy depression feedback loop.

Lifehelp is here to help

Whether you feel like you can’t tackle your depression on your own or you have realized that you need help, the licensed therapists on Lifehelp are here for you. They will offer their compassion, kindness, skills, and experience to help you identify, understand, and manage your symptoms. They can assess and diagnose depression, identify triggers, and help you discover and integrate coping mechanisms. Our network of trained therapists can give you the support and advice you need to regain your life and find happiness again. 

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