- Depression is a major global mental health issue, impacting 264 million people.
- Women are more likely to experience depression than men; 11-20% of adolescents experience it compared with 5-10% of those over 65.
- Identifying triggers and seeking professional help is vital to managing or reducing symptoms.
- Seeking happiness and finding purpose while caring for yourself physically & emotionally can help overcome depression.
- Support from family & friends, as well as holistic treatments like yoga & exercise, can aid the journey to recovery.
Depression is a pervasive mental health disorder, affecting an estimated 280 million people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is the leading cause of disability and is a significant contributor to suicide – taking the lives of nearly 800,000 people globally each year. In the United States alone, 6.7% of adults experienced at least one major depressive episode, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This accounts for over 16 million American adults.
Depression can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, or social class. Women are more likely than men to experience depression, with 8% of women in the US reporting a depressive episode compared to 5% of men in 2017. The WHO also says that depression is much more common among young people than older adults; between 11-20% of adolescents have symptoms of depression compared with only 5-10% among those over 65 years old.
Overcoming depression will look different from person to person, depending on the severity of the symptoms. However, some general strategies and treatments can help you manage or reduce your depression. Here are a few of them:
Identifying Your Triggers
Depression is often triggered by events or circumstances in our lives that we may be unable to control. Some of these triggers can include:
Stressful Life Events
Stressful life events such as job loss, the death of a loved one, serious medical illness, and divorce can contribute to depression. When faced with overwhelming stressors, coping with the emotional pain associated with them can be challenging. This can lead to feelings of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness that can eventually become depressed.
Major Life Transitions
Major life transitions such as starting college or a new job, moving to a new home, having a baby, or getting married are all times of significant change which can trigger depression. The changes associated with these life transitions add stress and uncertainty that many people find challenging to manage. Without adequate support from family and friends during these times of growth, the psychological distress associated with them may increase and lead to depression.
Abuse and Trauma
Abuse and trauma, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect, are all potential triggers for depression. The trauma caused by these situations has long-term effects on an individual’s mental health as they struggle to cope with the aftermath of such experiences. People who have experienced trauma often find it difficult to trust people or form meaningful relationships due to feelings of guilt and shame which further increases the risk of developing depression.
Genetics is another factor that could increase an individual’s vulnerability to developing depression, as certain gene variations have been known to influence mood regulation in some individuals. Those who have family members affected by clinical depression are more likely than those without a family history of mental illness to also experience depressive symptoms themselves at some point in their lives.
Seeking Professional Help
Seeking professional help is an essential step in battling depression. Mental health professionals are highly trained in recognizing and treating the symptoms of depression and have the resources to provide effective treatments that can effectively manage or reduce symptoms. Research suggests that a combination of medication and therapy can more successfully treat major depressive disorder than either approach alone.
With the help of a mental health professional, individuals can identify their triggers for depression, understand their emotions better, learn coping strategies, find ways to improve their self-esteem and make lifestyle changes that can help manage their condition. Through psychotherapy—such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT)—individuals can gain insight into how they think, feel, and behave and how specific thoughts or behaviors may contribute to their depression.
You can also get behavioral health services like group therapy or support groups. Talking with other people with similar experiences can provide comfort and a sense of validation, which can help individuals in their journey to recovery. Additionally, holistic treatments such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, meditation, and exercise can help reduce stress levels and improve moods.
Seeking Happiness in Life
It is important to remember that depression is treatable and that there are many ways to find joy. Finding a purpose, engaging in activities you enjoy, and surrounding yourself with supportive friends and family can help you cope with your depression and find happiness. Taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally and having a positive attitude are essential for overcoming depression. As Nelson Mandela said: “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things that don’t matter.”
Taking the steps necessary to understand yourself better and setting realistic goals and expectations for your journey can immensely impact your life. And no one understands this better than you do!
Depression can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to define you. You can overcome this challenge and find joy in life with the proper support and coping strategies. Remember that you are not alone! Contact your family, friends, or mental health professionals if you need extra help.