A friend in need is a friend indeed

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Remember this saying? Well, we are needed.

Not just friends, family members may also be able to lend a hand, when it comes to depression. Depression is a serious illness that should not be ignored or underestimated. Please do take it seriously and be aware that it can happen to anyone. So what COULD we do when someone we know goes through depression?

First of all, as much as we may feel urged to, we should not ask why. Basically, it is never that simple! We may find it helpful on the other hand to learn more about depression to be better equipped for the situation. We may help that person to get a check up if we suspect they are depressed, we may even need to book an appointment for him/her (if we are that close, of course).

We should not to judge or belittle their pain, even if it seems trivial to us, it is definitely not for them. Instead of guessing how depression feels, check out this article, to get an idea. It lists how fifty humans of depression describe it: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/danny-baker/depression_b_5267263.html

It might be hard at times to help, because they do their best to alienate themselves. To overcome any awkwardness that may arise, we need to remind ourselves that it is not WE that they are pushing away. It is their disconnection from the whole world that drives them further away. We could always try to minimize this gap.

We could encourage them to eat well, sleep enough, and exercise often even if it is the least of their worries.

Throughout the process, we need to be careful about warning signs of worsening conditions, such as thoughts on suicide.

We discussed this in detail in one of our earlier blogs, in the link below, so please keep it in mind: https://humansofdepression.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/suicide-ideation/

The most important thing you can do for anyone suffering from depression is to be there, which may be all they need from you!

While doing our best to help, we should not neglect ourselves. We often get carried away in other people’s pains especially if they are important to us. We need to be careful. While it is noble of us to be supportive, it will not be helpful to anyone if we lose track of our own lives. So it is essential to constantly remind ourselves to spare time for US. It is also important to not feel guilty about someone else’s depression, which is a trap caregivers often fall in.

You can help, so do your best!

Today’s blog marks the end of our detailed uptake of the different aspects of depression. We started with defining it, then we learned about its causes, which was followed by an introduction of all the signs and symptoms that happen because of it. We also delved into associations of depression such as complications, most dangerous of which being suicide. We ended with an exploration of management, which included prevention, treatment, self-help, and helping others.

The last part of our campaign, which will take part over the next 4 weeks, will be about depression in special situations. It will also include stories which may be relevant to many. So stay tuned, its going to get personal!

~ Faten B., Humans of Depression Representative

#LetsTalkD #wordsmatter #BeKind #DontJudge

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

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Reference:

http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=1092&channel_id=11&relation_id=27878

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

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When we are diagnosed with depression and prescribed medication, is there anything else we can do?

Definitely, there is always light at the end of the tunnel, however desperate or helpless we may feel! We are capable of doing so much for ourselves. It is none less than an outstanding achievement having asked for help and accepted medication or therapy, in the first place. Yet, it may benefit us more to think of changing our attitudes towards life, add coping skills to our tool belts, and find appropriate outlets for our stress.

Self-help is an essential component of overcoming depression. It is about recognizing one’s weaknesses and strengths, likes and dislikes. By evaluating ourselves we empower ourselves; setting the stage for true change towards a rewarding and productive life. We can take care of and help ourselves in many ways, including:

  1. Support: It is important to work on and maintain supportive relationships. In a way it prevents our isolation and sense of loneliness as well as boosting our self-confidence. Talking to a spouse or a friend or a parent, may be all the treatment we need especially in mild depression. Even though they may not have solutions or definite advice but just having them listen to us may boost our mood and satisfy our need of feeling loved and appreciated.
  2. Nutrition: It would definitely be worthwhile if we could work on making healthy and well-balanced meals a habit. We had discussed this in one of the earlier blogs, which you may checkout in the following link:

https://humansofdepression.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/food-affects-mood/

  1. Exercise: Taking up a sport or exercising is always a great idea, given the countless benefits resulting from either. Even though it may be the last thing in our mind, when it comes to dealing with depression, exercise is an asset.
  2. Distraction/Outlets:
  • Music appears to affect brain systems that control emotions and thus may improve our mood. So let us keep that playlist rolling!
  • Watching a funny movie or a TV show may provide all the distraction we need, away from the negative thinking that usually haunts us in depression.
  • Dance has been found to lower levels of stress hormones and significantly lowers levels of depression. Isn’t that convenient? So next time when our favorite tune is on, let us all promise to dance away, we will fight the urge not to, and dance away!
  1. Books: There are many useful self-help books such as The Feeling Good Handbook, that are available on the market today to help us overcome our depression.

Ultimately, it is helpful to acknowledge that our cure lies within us. We are capable, strong and worthy. So let us all do our best to help ourselves because we deserve that.

To end on a sweet note, check out this unique cake shop! It is a simple gesture of solidarity, assuring us that as humans of depression, we are not alone! http://depressedcakeshop.org

~ Faten B., Humans of Depression Representative

#LetsTalkD

#SelfHelp

#UGotThis

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

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https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

References:

http://psychcentral.com/lib/depression-treatment/000646/1

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression.htm

http://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/499664/How-to-stop-depression?

http://depression.newlifeoutlook.com/music-depression

http://blogs.psychcentral.com/dbt/2010/07/dance-away-stress-and-depression/

Road to Recovery

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The first step on the road to recovery starts with asking for help.

Once we do that; we are accepting the presence of this illness and empowering ourselves to overcome it. If we are diagnosed with depression, it is not the end of the world. As we learned earlier on, it is a chemical imbalance that needs fixing, similar to other illness brought on by hormonal or chemical imbalances in our bodies.

Yet, when the doctor prescribes medication, some of us are reluctant to comply with it, thinking we don’t need it. While in some cases, where depression is very mild, a few counselling sessions may help, in other cases, anti depressants are absolutely necessary for management.

There are different types of antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and others, which have been all shown to be effective. The key to antidepressants efficiency is to be patient about the results because it may take up to 6 weeks for the drug to work. The length of time, we should take antidepressants for, depends on how severe our illness is and is to be decided by our physician. Although antidepressants may have side effects, we should not stop our medication or even adjust the dose without consulting our doctor, to avoid relapse. Strategies for coping with some of the most common antidepressant side effects such as dizziness, insomnia, and anxiety, can be found here: http://depression.about.com/od/patientsrights/a/sideeffects.htm

It is important to avoid overestimating the role of antidepressants. They are not miracle pills! They are not meant to solve all our problems. They only keep us from feeling overwhelmed, so that we can solve our problems.

That is why the role of counselling and therapy is as important as taking the medication. Another name for therapy is psychological treatment, which helps people to change the negative pattern of thinking and improve their coping skills. Such objectives of therapy enable us to deal with life’s stresses and conflicts in a better and healthier manner. There are different types of behaviour therapies such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), mindfully based cognitive therapy (MBCT), and behaviour therapy.

It is our right to ask as many questions as we want about our treatment options, but in the end, it would be wise to consider our care provider’s advice on whether antidepressants are essential or not in our case as well as which antidepressant or therapy would be  most appropriate.

~ Faten B., Humans of Depression Representative

#LetsTalkD

#TimeHeals

#Antidepressants

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

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https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

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Resources:

http://psychcentral.com/lib/depression-treatment/000646/1

http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=1093&channel_id=11&relation_id=27878

http://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/depression/treatments-for-depression

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-facts-everyone-gets-wrong-about-depression/

 

Prevention is Better than Cure

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It is common to check the mirror before going out, to make sure we look good. It is common to watch what we eat, to make sure our body remains healthy. But it is not common to take the time, to make sure that our mood is on the right track. Depression, as some describe it, may feel like a well of darkness. It is easier to stay away rather than slipping into it. So why don’t we all watch out for depression and try to prevent it? Is that possible?

Yes, we can always try. To prevent depression is to take care of ourselves holistically, not just our exterior.

Taking care of our bodies by eating healthy and exercising could positively affect our mood, as we learned in our last blog. Getting enough sleep is one of the important basic steps to many illnesses prevention not just depression. We can also take care of our mood by keeping our loved ones close. Finding our passions to serve as an ‘outlet’ to our stress and being thankful for what we have may also protect us from depression. We could always try avoiding blaming ourselves and focusing on having a positive attitude. It is also beneficial to have a balanced routine, to fill our time with meaningful activities whether it is work, social engagement, or fun. Getting counselling if we feel overwhelmed during times of grief, stress or low mood is another depression prevention tool.

It may seem tedious, taking care of our mood, but it is an essential step to ensure our mental well being. It may be hard at first, but making it a habit will lead to an easier sustainable good mood.

Depression is a serious illness, which we should not take lightly. It is not just being sad or lonely; it is a complex illness involving symptoms that affect our general physical and social well being, not only mental. Thus, it is imperative to learn about and be aware of depression because by reading more about it and educating ourselves, we make it easier to prevent and recognize.

Taking care of YOURSELF is important, we all owe it to ourselves!

~ Faten B., Humans of Depression Representative

#LetsTalkD #preventioniswellness #boosturmood

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

http://twitter.com/HumansofD

https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

http://instagram.com/humansofdepression/

Resources:

http://chealth.canoe.ca/channel_section_details.asp?text_id=6141&channel_id=11&relation_id=27878

http://www.everydayhealth.com/depression/10-key-questions-about-depression/what-is-depression.aspx

http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Depression

Food Affects Mood!

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Depression can affect ones eating habits and a common sign for depression is changes in appetite and weight. Eating healthy while being a university student can already be hard as it is, as many may not have the time to prepare healthy alternatives. I think everyone can relate, especially during exam season. As you can imagine, bad eating habits tend to intensify depression among individuals already suffering or it can lead to eating disorders such bulimia and anorexia nervosa1.

Some may have a decreased appetite and can lead to irregular eating patterns or others may have an appetite for unhealthy foods and gain weight. How do particular foods affect ones mood you ask? There are certain food items that directly affect the chemicals in your brain (neurotransmitters), eating patterns that affect blood sugar levels, which can both affect your mood levels1. This in turn can create vicious mood cycles and contribute to ones depression symptoms to reach its high.

Here are a few things to know that can help improve mood:

  • Eat regular meals, especially breakfast (having a stable intake of blood sugar levels helps stabilize your mood and can prevent those unhealthy cravings!
  • Carbohydrates (i.e., whole grains, fruits, vegetables), vitamins and minerals help the update of serotonin in the brain, lifting your mood
  • Make sure you have a balanced intake of omega 3 & 6 oil, it also helps with mood
  • Avoid crash dieting or over eating (especially very sugary foods!), it contributes to a vicious mood cycle
  • Be aware of side effects of medications, some may increase or decrease ones appetite
  • Exercise! This is the best way to stay fit and increase serotonin levels

Want more tips on healthy eating? Check out our colleagues at http://healthyu2015.blogspot.com/

~Joti, Humans of Depression Representative

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms:

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References:

(1) http://www.minddisorders.com/Kau-Nu/Nutrition-and-mental-health.html.

Living With Depression & Anxiety

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“I grew up with a family that loved me unconditionally, I was a typical child who loved to sing, read and watch movies, but I always felt a little bit different. I constantly worried and it wasn’t until I was older that I understood why.

My first real panic attack was in university, although I didn’t know what it was at the time. I suddenly got the shakes, my heart racing and felt like I couldn’t breathe. That landed me in the emergency department, getting blood tests and EKG’s for my chest pains. When doctors told me they couldn’t find anything wrong with me, I felt embarrassed. I felt crazy when it happened again twice and was told the same thing.

My parents thought I should see a psychologist, and it was then when I learned I was suffering from generalized anxiety disorder. I had uncontrollable worries and felt constantly tense. Sometimes, I would get panic attacks during class. These symptoms would last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. A year later, I was also diagnosed with depression. My life seemed to be spiraling out of my control. I didn’t know how to deal with it all and I ended up taking a semester off from school and isolated myself from everyone.

It was a battle, but now, although I still worry and get anxious, with the help and support of friends and family, I can say that I haven’t let my anxiety disorders control my life- now I control them.” ~Anonymous

Emotional complexity and functioning challenges influence depression and anxiety. The combined impact these disorders have on one’s life is the most prominently experienced mental health concerns in society. Depression and anxiety can be triggered through a multitude of factors such as emotional, social, physical, environment, nutritional and spiritual factors, however it could also be a result of ones genetic make up2. Anxiety and depression are not the same, but they are interrelated and often occur together2.

Anxiety disorders cause unexpected anxiety that seriously impacts ones life, including how one thinks, feels and acts1. Anxiety can affect anyone for different reasons. Sometimes, it could be triggered by a specific event or stressful life experience1. The different types of anxiety disorders include: panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias and generalized anxiety disorder3. Anxiety disorders cannot be prevented, but with the help of counselling, seeking help from a professional and the support of friends and family can help control or lessen symptoms. Remember, if you are suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other mental disorder, you are not alone and you will get through it!

~Joti, Humans of Depression Representative

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms!

http://twitter.com/HumansofD

 https://www.facebook.com/HumansofDepression

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References:

(1) http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/understanding-anxiety-disorders/#.VNMH-2TF_3o

(2) http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/conditions/anxiety-depression

(3) http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/mental-health-anxiety-disorders

Suicide Ideation

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Today’s topic of discussion for this blog may be uncomfortable for some, and is often an avoided discussion, yet it weighs heavily occurring at the hands of depression. Suicide is a reality and more common than you may think. In 2009, suicide was the ninth leading cause of death in Canada and it is the second leading cause of death for those between 15 and 34 years old1. Being a college or university student can lead to a lot of stress. It is a transitioning phase from adolescence to adulthood, and for some, there is more pressure than ever to make something of yourself and be successful. It can cause one to come face to face with many challenges leading to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and desperation when things just are not falling into place. Rather, everything seems to be spiraling out of control leaving one to have severely depressed feelings that life is unbearable. At times, it can become difficult in this age bracket to distinguish between behaviours of feeling stressed versus the signs that can lead to suicide.

Here are some behaviour changes to watch out for if you suspect someone you know is battling with depression and suicidal thoughts2:

  • Withdrawal from family and peers
  • Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
  • Difficulty concentrating on schoolwork
  • Neglect of personal appearance
  • Obvious changes in personality
  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Changes in eating patterns, such as sudden weight loss or gain
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • General lethargy or lack of energy
  • Violent actions, rebellion, or running away
  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Loss of ability to tolerate praise or rewards

If you or someone you know is thinking of suicide, you may be able to help him/her find better ways to cope. Remember that help for their/your problems is available. Here are a few places to seek help2.

  • Visit your local emergency department or call 911
  • Contact a nurse at Telehealth Ontario by dialing 1-866-797-000
  • Call the Good2Talk support line at 1-866-925-5454 (for post-secondary students in Ontario aged 17-25)
  • Ontario Mental Health Helpline (open 24/7 for treatment anywhere in Ontario) 1-866-531-2600

~Joti, Humans of Depression Representative

Remember to follow Humans of Depression on the following platforms!

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References:

How to prevent the Valentine’s Day blues

120213051345-man-cries-tv-couch-eating-story-topAn excerpt from CNN’s the Chart. For full blog by Anthony Youn, M.D. go to: http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/14/how-to-prevent-the-valentines-day-blues/.

Confession: I hate Valentine’s Day.
But I bet I’m not alone.
Many singles use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to engage in unhealthy behavior, such as drinking and self-medicating, to help them forget the date. Growing up, I was no exception.
As a rail-thin, nerdy teenager, I spent every February 14 alone, drinking a two liter of Orange Crush and watching my favorite movie, “The Karate Kid.” I imagined a parallel between this film and my life: Skinny loser nerd overcomes hideous looks, beats up mean jock kids and earns the love of a cute girl.
In college, my Valentine’s Day tradition consisted of binge drinking and overeating – anything to make me forget that I didn’t have a girlfriend. Not only did these unhealthy habits repel the actual women I wanted to attract, but they caused me to feel even worse the next day.
So how do people escape the pain and loneliness of such a holiday?
Here are a few healthy options I recommend to prevent the Valentine’s Day blues:
1) Exercise. Studies show the endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine released during working out can improve your mood. Not only will you feel better, you’ll look better and be healthier.
2) Volunteer for the needy. Several studies have shown that volunteering for the less fortunate has beneficial effects on mood, health and even life span. These benefits can be instantaneous.
A survey published in Psychology Today describes the “Helper’s High” – an immediate euphoric sensation experienced by over half of volunteer respondents.
3) if you can: Travel somewhere sunny. Nearly 10% of Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or the winter blues. For many, February is the worst month for SAD. Studies show that sunlight can boost levels of serotonin, counteracting SAD and improving mood.
4) Go to a funny movie. Emotions are contagious. The phenomenon called “emotional contagion” describes the infectious effect that our interactions and surroundings can have on our mood. Watching a humorous movie, reading an enjoyable book, or even taking in a stand-up comedy act will help you stay happy on Valentine’s Day.
5) Adopt a pet from a shelter. Studies show that people with pets live longer, happier and healthier lives. If you’re looking for unconditional love, this is a great way to get it and save a life in the process. Best of all, your pet won’t expect an expensive Valentine’s Day gift.
And remember: the holiday lasts only 24 hours.

Concentration, Thinking and Depression

exams-suck University is tough for lots of reasons without having to struggle with depression.
When most people think of depression, the first things that come to mind are sadness, a loss of enjoyment in life, withdrawal and fear that so often accompany the disorder.
And while these are all very painful, and central, parts of the condition, other symptoms of depression can be at least as damaging, and for students, trouble concentrating can be very detrimental.
The inability to concentrate and/or make decisions is a debilitating aspect of depression. Along with decreased ability to concentrate are other cognitive symptoms of depression which make depression at school so difficult:
• Negative or distorted thinking
• Difficulty concentrating
• Distractibility
• Forgetfulness
• Reduced reaction time
• Memory loss
• Indecisiveness
It is important to take action to resolve depression, which will resolve the symptoms and allow you to continue your studies and of course feel better.

Check out these resources for more information: http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/Depression/Depression_Symptoms,_Causes_and_Diagnosis.htm
http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-cognitive-symptoms-of-depression/00016214
image from: http://teenskepchick.org/2012/06/25/how-superstition-invades-exams

DISCLAIMER: All content here should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

Denise, representative of humans of depression;

#LetsTalkD
#LD
#allabouttheD
#BellLet’sTalk
#talkdepression
#stompthestigma
#DD

Sleep and Depression: which comes first: the chicken or the egg?

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Experts agree that sleep and depression are linked, but it is unclear how. Poor or not enough sleep can lead to anxiety and depression. And of course, anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep. When we don’t sleep well at night, we become tired, sometimes resulting in falling asleep before we’re ready to sleep for the night. Then when it’s time to sleep, we aren’t tired and anxiety and negative thoughts contribute to making it difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep. And the cycle repeats itself.
We need 7.5- 9 hours of sleep every night. While lack of sleep alone does not cause depression, it is a significant factor and a good indicator that there may be a problem. Whether poor sleep is contributes to depression or depression causes sleep disturbances, it’s agreed that good sleep is important to our health. Understanding the power of sleep and how to combat sleep disturbances will help you stay healthy and can help you fight depression. A really good source of information on sleep and mental health can be found at:
http://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/how-much-sleep-do-you-need.htm
http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/need-sleep/whats-in-it-for-you/mood
#LetsTalkD
Denise, representative of humans of depression