Recently, a 47-year-old female accountant committed suicide in Lagos, Nigeria, after suffering from severe depression for many years. Her death sparked conversations about depression all over social media.

Those of us at GYMHA hope this article will help ease the pain any reader may be suffering from depression and bring such a person to the beckoning light of peace.

Depression is classified as a mood disorder. It may be described as a feeling of sadness, loss, or anger that interferes with a person’s everyday activities. However, one of the best definitions of depression I have read is; “Depression is anger turned inward.”

People experience depression in different ways. It may interfere with your daily work, resulting in lost time and lower productivity. It can also influence relationships and some chronic health conditions.

It’s important to realize that feeling down sometimes is a normal aspect of life. Upsetting events happen to the best of us. However, if you’re feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression.

Depression is a serious medical condition that can get worse without proper treatment. Major depression attacks your mood. It may also be ongoing or periodically. Not everyone with depression will experience the same symptoms. It varies in severity, how often they happen, and how long they last.

If a person feels a sustained intense feeling of sadness or loss of interest in activities, they may have clinical depression. People also refer to this condition as Major Depressive Disorder.

There are a number of steps you can take to manage depression. First of all, own your feelings and speak your truth. That is how healing begins.

Making small changes to your daily routine, diet, and lifestyle habits can also have a positive effect.

Depression can drain your energy, leaving you feeling empty and fatigued. This can make it difficult to muster the strength or desire to get treatment. Small lifestyle changes may help you manage these feelings. The key to navigating depression is to be open, accepting, and loving toward yourself and what you’re going through.

On days when you feel as if you can’t get out of bed, exercise may seem like the last thing you’d want to do. However, physical activities help to lower symptoms of depression and boost energy levels. Even when you feel like permanently staying in bed, push yourself to do the opposite of what your mood is telling you to do. Set small goals for yourself, such as taking a walk around the block.

Internal emotions and thoughts can change from day to day. Tracking experiences through keeping a mood diary can help to remember this. If you were unsuccessful at getting out of bed or accomplishing your goals today, remember that you haven’t lost tomorrow’s opportunity to try again. Give yourself the grace to accept that, while some days will be difficult, some other days will be easier. Look forward to tomorrow’s fresh start.

Depression can tinge recollections with difficult emotions. You may find yourself focusing on things that are unhelpful or perceived as difficult. Try to stop this overgeneralization. Push yourself to recognize the good. If it helps, write down what was meaningful about the event or day. You can track what you achieved that day, and which activities were enjoyable. Seeing the weight you’re giving to one thing may help you direct your thoughts to the individual pieces that were helpful rather than the daunting whole.

The automatic, unhelpful voice in your head may talk you out of self-help. However, if you can learn to recognize it, you can learn to work through it. If you believe an event won’t be fun or worth your time, say to yourself, “You might be right, but it’ll be better than just sitting here another night.” You may soon see that automatic thought isn’t always helpful.

A lengthy to-do list may be so weighty that you’d rather do nothing. Instead of compiling a long list of tasks, consider setting smaller goals. Setting and accomplishing these goals can provide a sense of control and accomplishment, and help with motivation.

“All goals are worthy of recognition, and all successes are worthy of celebration.” When you achieve a goal, do your best to recognize it. You may not feel like celebrating with a large crowd, but recognizing your own successes can be a very powerful weapon against depression’s negative weight. The memory of a job well-done may be especially powerful against unhelpful talk and overgeneralization.

If depressive symptoms disrupt your daily routine, setting a gentle schedule may help you feel in control. These plans don’t have to map out an entire day. Focus on creating a loose, but structured, routine that can help you keep your daily pace going.

Depression can push you to give in to your fatigue. It may feel more powerful than preferred emotions. Try to push back and do something you love — something that’s pleasurable or meaningful. It could be drawing, reading an interesting novel, or cycling around your neighborhood. The by-product of engaging in meaningful activities can be a lift in your mood or energy, which can further motivate you to continue to engage in helpful activities that help with navigating symptoms.

Spending time in nature can have a powerful influence on a person’s mood. Time in natural spaces may improve mood and cognition, and lower the risk of mental health disorders. However, there’s only limited research on the direct effect of nature on those with clinical depression.

Depression can tempt you to isolate yourself and withdraw from people you love and trust. Don’t give in to that thought that is trying so hard to isolate you from your loved ones. If you’re unable to spend time together in person, phone calls or video chats can also be helpful. Try to remind yourself these people care about you. Resist the temptation to feel like you’re a burden. You need the interaction — and they likely do, too.

If you need more information on mental health issuers, contact us at Global Youth Mental Health Awareness, GYMHA. Visit our website and sign up for our mental health online courses.

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