October is Depression Education and Awareness Month. It is set aside to educate the public about signs, symptoms and treatment options for depression. It also lets the public know that it is OK to seek help, and it shows signs of hope and strength.
More than 14.8 million people are affected by Major Depressive Disorder, according to Interim Inc. This month encourages the public to talk with other people in your community.
In Highland County, 39 percent of the population surveyed by the Highland County Health Department reported depression. Sixty three percent report seeking help from a doctor or the hospital. Thirty Five percent of health professionals and 28 percent of the public believe that mental health is a top concern that impacts overall health.
Everyone gets depressed sometimes. It is a response to events or experiences in which our goals are unmet or expectations are dashed. These feelings of depression are usually short-lived. However, someone with Major Depressive Disorder can go two weeks or more feeling depressed.
Depression can be caused by genetics, trauma or addiction. Symptoms of depression can include feelings of hopelessness, sadness or emptiness. A person could be irritable, have angry outbursts, and have low frustration tolerance. They could also lose interest in usual activities, and have sleep and eating disturbances. Lastly, they could have difficulty concentrating or have physical pain with no apparent cause.
To overcome depression, you can make small changes and positive choices. First, confide in others, build a support system. Secondly, get physical. Physical activity may include going to the gym, walking, or even cleaning the house while listening to music. Thirdly, eat healthy. Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day and eat about the same time every day. Fourth, get enough sleep. If your sleep quality is poor, you may become irritable, experience stress, and become depressed. Fifth, engage in mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness is the concept of being fully present in the moment. A person becomes aware of where they are, what their senses are observing, and what they are feeling. Meditation incorporates mindfulness with calm breathing exercises and relaxing stretches. If feelings of depression persist, seek professional help.
Depression can occur any time of the year, but during the holidays depression can be experienced for those who are normally content. Depression can be caused by isolation during the holidays. Find some joyful activities to be involved in, such as caring for your pet or someone else’s pet, getting out in nature, or volunteering. Many places need help from volunteers.
Think positive thoughts to overcome depression, such as being thankful for the day. Realize that your bad situation will end. Don’t compare yourself to others, and realize you can be the person you were meant to be.
Some information for this story came from Interim Inc.
Jackie Wolgamott is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.