Since 1949, Mental Health America has led the way in observing Mental Health Month every May. All month, you can work on the ongoing goal of decreasing the stigma around mental illnesses and encouraging people you know to do the same.
You can also increase your awareness of mental health issues by educating yourself on the symptoms of disorders such as depression. In doing so, you’ll be more likely to recognize the warning signs of depression in yourself or someone close to you.
What Is Depression?
The World Health Organization lists depression as one of the most common causes of disability worldwide, affecting an estimated 264 million people. While everyone experiences emotional highs and lows, depression is more than a short-term bad mood. You may be depressed if you no longer find joy in formerly pleasurable hobbies or activities.
Other red flags that could indicate depression include:
- Trouble concentrating on tasks
- Persistent feelings of guilt, hopelessness or worthlessness
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Restlessness, agitation or irritability
- Appetite loss
- Body aches and pains such as headaches and stomachaches
What Can You Do If You Think You Might Be Depressed?
Left unaddressed, depression symptoms can become increasingly severe and prevent you from taking an active role in your life. Depression can be physically and mentally painful and lead to self-destructive behavior such as substance abuse disorders, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
Unfortunately, many people living with untreated depression do not seek help for their problems, even when they know doing so would significantly improve their quality of life. In some cases, they may be ashamed to go to therapy because they worry it would be embarrassing to discuss their feelings with a stranger. Other people might get overwhelmed by the idea of working with a counselor and have no idea where to begin. Your depression may also make you feel like you don’t deserve to find relief from your symptoms because you’re unworthy of being happy.
In some cases, people may also struggle to get an accurate depression diagnosis because the symptoms can vary from one person to the next. Start by seeing your general practitioner. They’ll likely ask when your symptoms started, how long they’ve lasted and how severe they are. They may also want to know if you have a family history of mental illnesses or substance abuse. If your doctor rules out a physical cause for your symptoms, they may refer you to a mental health professional or prescribe an antidepressant.
All-Natural Ways to Relieve Depression
This Mental Health Month, what are some ideas you can use for finding relief from your depression symptoms?
- Exercise more. Exercise triggers the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins, creating the characteristic “runner’s high.”
- Spend time outside. Being in nature provides a range of benefits, including decreased stress and improved mood.
- Try incorporating mindfulness techniques like yoga and meditation into your routine.
- Download Mental Health America’s 2021 Mental Health Month Toolkit for improving your mental well-being and outlook.
Dual-Diagnosis Treatment in Long Beach, CA
Separately, mental illness and substance abuse disorders can be a struggle. When combined, they can create seemingly insurmountable challenges. Dual-diagnosis treatment involves simultaneously addressing both issues with evidence-based therapy. If you or someone you love is living with depression and addiction, contact us at New Found Life today.