Fighting Off Depression

How to identify signs and deal with “feeling low”.

By Kelvin Low      19 June 2020

Depression hits everyone from young to old. According to the World Health Organization, more than 264 million people globally suffer from depression. It can slowly creep in, or hit all at once. We take a look at a few warning signs of depression, and how you can overcome depression.

Depression often goes undetected because a common stereotype of depression is a person who is always sad or cries a lot. “Smiling depression” is unfortunately a very common occurrence, when those who are experiencing depression mask their symptoms. They hide behind a smile to convince other people that they are happy.

With Circuit Breaker enforcing social distancing amongst Singaporeans, the social withdrawal and lack of pleasurable social activities may have a profound effect on people suffering from depression.

What are the signs?

Some of the more common symptoms of early-stage depression are: Feelings of anxiety, guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep, poor appetite and concentration, as well as irritability.

Anyone going through major life changes are more at risk of suffering from depression. Frequent social media users are at risk of having their mental health affected. Negative comments from others can easily dent anyone’s self-image, and also makes bullying particularly easy.

If depressing feelings grow over time, they should not be ignored. There are easy ways to help fight off the depression. The biggest red flag is suicidal thoughts, and you must seek help immediately.

What you can do to ward off depression

Seek social support

Find someone you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with, someone who’ll listen to you without passing judgement. It can seem overwhelming, but developing and maintaining close relationships are vital to help power through this tough time.

Try to keep up with social activities even on social media. The positive effect of engaging in meaningful discussion on social media, is that it can be a good form of social support. See something interesting which your friend posted? Make a good constructive comment which feeds positive energy to it.


Adopt a more positive lifestyle

Aim for eight hours of sleep. Get on a better sleep schedule by learning healthy sleep habits. Sleeping too little or too much can affect your mood.

Keep stress in check. List out all the things in your life that make you “underhappy”, such as work, money, or relationships, and resolve them at your own pace. Alternatively, set aside some time in a day to practise relaxation techniques.

Yoga, deep breathing, and meditation can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Spending some time in the sunlight can improve your mood too – just remember to go outdoors only for essential purposes.


Exercise!

Exercise is a powerful depression fighter. You won’t need to perform strenuous exercise, any form of physical activity which you feel is challenging enough is adequate.

The best depression-blasting workouts are said to be rhythmic aerobic exercises. For example, Zumba. As a fitness regime that combines Latin and international music with dance moves, there is nothing quite like feeling your muscles burn while listening to upbeat music.

If dancing is not your thing, music with other forms of aerobic workouts like jogging, walking or cycling are alternatives which you can consider.


Eat right

Fast food and generally sweet treats will cause a “crash” in mood and energy once their sugary effects wear off. Excessive dependence on caffeine, alcohol, and highly processed foods is not going to help you think any better.

Instead, look at eating more Omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish and walnuts to give your mood a boost. Fruits, such as bananas and oranges, are rich in mood-enhancing nutrients including magnesium and vitamin B6.


Adopt critical thinking

In most depression cases, the overwhelming thoughts are the trigger to the negative feelings. What you need is a structured analysis of facts to form a judgment.

Depression can cause one to develop an irrational or pessimistic attitude. You can’t break out of this mind frame by telling yourself to “cheer up”, which is the worst anti-depression advice.

Once you start to identify the destructive thoughts, you may challenge them with alternative approaches to the thoughts. For example, if you had identified a possible trigger of depression, instead of thinking of ways to combat it, think of how you would see the trigger if depression was not a factor.

Logical reasoning is widely applied and valued. This kind of reasoning sometimes is referred to as top-down thinking or moving from the general to the specifics. Through this thought process, you’ll develop a more balanced perspective and help to relieve your depression.


Never despair

Last but not least, do not ever despair if the above advice doesn’t work. Seek help from a mental health professional and be open about how you’re feeling as well as your symptoms. While depression can be a devastating disorder, even the most severe cases are treatable.

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