Personal Development

Am I Depressed: How to Spot and Battle Depression

Am I depressed
Depression is a natural process where our subconscious is trying to speak to us. When we don’t resist it, we can use it to our benefit and redirect ourselves.

If you are noticing signs of depression, don’t worry because it could lead to a radical positive shift in your life. You just need to shed the negative illusion that there is something wrong with you if you’re depressed. Depression is the body’s way of telling you something isn’t working. Maybe it’s your job, your relationship, your food or your living situation.

Your body has a natural feedback system that taps into the subconscious. When I realized depression was a natural process and stopped resisting it, I found that it was a very useful emotional and physical state that has helped me steer my life in a better direction.

Depression makes you feel like being alone and that allows you to reflect on your choices, where you’ve been going with your life and what you want to change.

Signs of depression

Emotional portrait of a sad girl with a shallow depth of field

Let’s break it down: When you feel like staying in and sleeping a lot of the time, it’s a sign of depression. When you feel like eating a lot (and not the healthy stuff) it’s your body giving you a free warning sign that something is up. The same thing goes for losing a lot of weight and not being hungry.

If you’re eating once a day, this is a pretty strong sign, it’s time to rest for a while and listen to your inner voice by writing a journal and asking yourself what’s really not working.

When you feel lackluster, unattractive, unmotivated, it’s ok! It’s just that your body is asking you to reevaluate your goals and your action plan. It’s actually a good thing! What is not good is that we think it’s a condition that should be resisted or medicated.

What we need to do is embrace it and announce that we are taking time to reflect and set our goals. People can understand that and will respect it.

If you wake up dreading your day, that is also a sign of depression. If your sleep cycles are all out of whack, that can be too. Maybe you’re sleeping during the day or are unable to sleep at night. If you find it difficult to make decisions or feel like you’re forcing yourself to do little insignificant tasks, you could be dealing with mild depression.

If you feel sad or guilty and have trouble looking people in the eye or feel invaluable, this is a sign it’s time to study the root causes of your depression and look at what might be bumming you out. It’s OK to ask for help.

I’m a strong advocate of therapy and counseling. I’ve received help through it and I know many close friends that have as well. I always remind myself, if it feels like it’s too hard and you don’t have the answers, ask for help! People study how to deal with these things.

Do you find yourself irritable? The symptoms will vary from person to person and will be different depending on the day, the weather and other external factors. If you have become abnormally moody and feel like you don’t want to deal with people, you are not alone; many people deal with these feelings. Perhaps it’s the type of people you are encountering and your subconscious mind is trying to tell you to find nicer people to hang around with.

If you find yourself thinking about drinking throughout the day, it could be a sign of depression. If you feel like alcohol is your only way of having fun, it could mean that you have lost your mojo but that’s OK! It’s time to put down the bottle and pick up the pen, yup, start evaluating your passions and action steps you can take to get there.

Maybe you should even call up a life coach or find a mentor. Join some networking groups in your field of interest as a hobby and get some books about what awakes your passion. We all need to feel excited about working towards something, we run on motivation from these goals. Pen and paper, books and movies, consume media and get friendly with what motivates you so it doesn’t feel so far-fetched.

Ladies, do you feel unattractive and uninterested in romance? Not to worry. You will regain your inner sex panther with a few applied healthy ways of balancing your libido and finding your inner voice. Just know it’s not permanent if you take healthy steps to resolve it and embrace it as a natural process.

I often tell my students in yoga class, it’s not the emotion that is painful; it is the resistance to that emotion. Let go of resistance and experience the emotion, let it live so you can be free of it. It really works.

I have good news, coming from someone that dealt with anxiety for years; I know that it can usually be overcome naturally. If you’re feeling like nothing is going right and are fearful of things going wrong, this is your body’s alert system asking for more healthy food and yoga or exercise.

It’s your body’s self-defense mechanism urging you to move, treat your body like a sanctuary and get down with your dreams. When we settle and we don’t live out our dreams and follow them, or take time to know what they are, we stagnate; we shrivel up and turn into pumpkins.

The difference between Cinderella, the princess, and Cinderella, the maid, was just perception. It’s the same with depression; we need to set goals for one day, one week, one month, six months and a year. This can help pull you out of it too.

How to deal with it

Close-up of female hands holding teacup in front of opened book

You need to rest. Your body knows what it needs to do to heal itself. You may never reach the conclusions your subconscious is cueing you in to if you don’t slow down. Don’t feel guilty for slowing down when you do.

Our culture is rampant with type A personalities (I was one of them) and it’s ok and necessary to take breaks. Journal about your goals, what you feel is draining you and what you feel excited about pursuing.

Really focus on what you eat. Eliminate depressants like alcohol and don’t torture yourself trying to be so healthy the food tastes gross to you. If you aren’t sure how to make healthy food taste good, look up some raw food recipes. Let thy food be thy medicine and for Pete’s sake, stay away from prescription drugs.

Just as important as cleaning up your diet, is doing yoga or some other type of exercize. The breathing and stretching will calm your nervous system and release endorphins. If you aren’t able to watch a free video on YouTube or get to a class, just start taking walks in the sun to get your endorphins to be released.

If you were really active and became sedentary, depression can set in. Get moving and you’ll feel the difference within at least two weeks, if not less!
Find some positive people, positive movies, inspirational books, life changing events and take a vacation if you can. Reduce spending if you’re stressed about finances and make sure you eat things you actually enjoy.

A lot of the times when we are depressed, we feel guilty and worthless and stop treating ourselves well. This makes the depression worse though, and we need to stop beating ourselves up if we feel like having a cookie once in a while.

That negative self-talk can really take it to another level too. Notice if you say negative things about yourself out loud or in your head. Instead of focusing on the things you don’t accomplish, celebrate the things you do.

Don’t take yourself too seriously or put too much pressure on yourself to accomplish everything quickly, success doesn’t happen overnight and you’ll just be shooting yourself in the foot if you’re impatient while pursuing your goals.

Speaking of pursuing your goals, it’s a great way to overcome depression. Instead of doing things you feel unenthused about, start actually doing things that can lead you to your goals.

We all have to do things to pay the bills but at least take one step toward what makes you happy every day. Whether it is reading something about it, adding an event to attend to your calendar, creating a website, or looking up plane tickets, just do something that fires you up and get that inside fire blazing!

You can spice up your outfit with some color and please get out of those baggy sweatpants as soon as you can, they will not motivate you.

If you find yourself thinking about what could go wrong all the time or talking about it, make a conscious effort to make a list of what could go right before you talk yourself out of everything.

Social stigma around depression

Watercolor yin yang symbol on old paper background

We live in a culture of repressed emotions (residual patriarchy). We are taught to always look tough, to never show signs of weakness. The strength lies in the balance: The yin and the yang.

We can’t always be the producer, the provider, the one with all the answers. The natural ebb and flow of life asks us to receive and to give, to flex our muscles and to relax them. We must take time to slow down and quiet the logic our brain keeps shoving in our heads and let our creative side speak or our body will force us to.

You don’t need to feel like you’re worse than anybody else if you are depressed. It’s not something you have to hide or be embarrassed about. Repressed emotions like anger fear and anxiety can actually be translated subconsciously by the brain into physical pain in the body (this is called Tension Mitosis Syndrome or TMS).

Depression should not be ignored because it can cause chronic pain. Our Western culture is only starting to embrace eastern mind-body understandings of how we operate. We cannot just ignore our emotions; they create real physical responses in the body.

Heartburn, headache, fatigue, inflammation and anxiety are just some of the physical symptoms that can be caused by stress and depress your body.

Stress releases a hormone called cortisol into the body which is an acidic chemical that creates free radicals in your body. Those free radicals need to steal an electron from healthy skin cells in order to neutralize, which causes inflammation all over the body. Pretty interesting stuff huh? Now do you see why it’s important to take time to lower stress? Put on relaxing music, light a candle and take a bubble bath. It can really make a big difference.

Believe it or not, I now look at it as a blessing when my body tells me to slow down. I realize that it is smarter than the 10% of my brain I’m using and it cues me in to changes that I don’t realize need to be made. Whether it is a change in jobs, a new perspective about a relationship, or an attitude shift, my depression has become my friend, because I use it to my advantage and I don’t resist it – it’s natural.

People have negative connotations about depression because companies have tried to give people shortcuts to deal with things, like anti-depressant pills, which don’t get to the root of the problem.

The truth is that if we boost our exercise, lower our stress, improve the quality of our food, and give ourselves positive thinking techniques, we can usually overcome feeling sad without becoming dependent on drugs or feeling like something is wrong with us.

Just as ADHD is over diagnosed in our country, depression is as well. For most of us, depression doesn’t have to be a permanent state, and if treated holistically, you can change your lifestyle to pull out of it.

I advise going to an eastern medicine practitioner (also called a Naturopath) unless you are having very serious depression issues such as thoughts of suicide, self-harm or substance abuse. If you are experiencing those symptoms, the chemicals in your body need assistance from trained professionals and you should not try to heal yourself if your depression has become severe.

When people are depressed, they often spend most of their time feeling bad about themselves and feeling like a victim. They wallow in self-pity, the negative thinking spirals, taking up all their headspace.

If you remember one thing from this article, remember how valuable and instant it is to shift your focus from yourself and look for ways to help others. It is a shortcut and as long as you don’t put all the problems of the world on your shoulders, it will give you motivation and a sense of purpose.

Just be honest with yourself and resolve if you have been focusing on yourself and if that might be the source of your depression.

I hope you got something out of reading this, and will put it to good use. Write down anything you think would be helpful for readers in the comments, because it is possible I left something important out. Check out my other articles for grounded practical advice on this site.

About the author

Shannon Y.

Shannon is a contortionist and yoga teacher that loves to inspire people to lead empowered and healthy lives. She writes practical advice for health and gives real world insights to empower women emotionally.

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