The swift and sudden descent of depression, along with worry and fear that caught me totally unaware as burnout struck in May 1987, was a shattering experience.
My optimism had turned to terror overnight. I was scared! With the hopes that I can help someone suffering from depression and show you how you can beat depression, I now share with you the top 5 symptoms of depression which hit me like a ton of bricks.
1. Fear, worry and anxiety - Somehow we find reason to worry about all the things we can’t change. The exciting challenges in our lives now appear to us as problems and potential failures. Our faith turns to fear and anxiety takes over our trust in God. We are overcome with feelings of hopelessness. There appears to be no end in sight to our suffering, no light at the end of the tunnel. To the patient, this sickness seems to be terminal.
2. Lack of Joy - With depression came an immediate lack of joy or happiness. Forcing a smile required a great deal of effort. However, the forced smile served as a poor mask for the emotional pain written across my face. I would tend to cry involuntarily. Weeping and depression seem to go hand in hand. Weeping seems to be our means of releasing the pent-up emotions and feelings from our minds as depression sets in. When we are depressed, we will become irritated very easily. People we work with and the customers we serve see us as irritable, edgy and hard to get along with, instead of the loving, kind and considerate people they once knew.
3. Chronic Fatigue - I would wake up tired and continued to feel tired all day long. I couldn’t even enjoy my hobbies. It felt as though someone opened a tap and drained all the energy out of my body. Sleep seems to no longer re-vitalized me or re-stored my energy. My body felt as though it needed to be dragged around. It was as though my zeal and zest for life had disappeared.
4. Insomnia - It is common when we are depressed to have difficulty falling asleep, although some of us oversleep and still wake up tired. Lying there and waiting for sleep to come as our mind speeds on can cause a great deal of anxiety in itself. Our body is resting, but our mind refuses to stop thinking and worrying. There are times we fall asleep only to awake a short time later in a cold sweat. Prescribed sedatives can be a real lifesaver without causing an addiction.
5. Physical Ailments - Even though these ailments are sometimes imagined, I certainly experienced chest pains, headaches, respiratory problems and weakness. These were actually symptoms of the stress that caused my depression. Food lost its taste. My stomach felt like it was tied in a knot as my appetite for food disappeared. Some people, however, begin to overeat and totally neglect their diets. After all, when we were kids, our parents used to give us a treat or a snack to make us feel better if we were crying.
How to Beat Depression and Live Again
1. Get up – Depressed people tend to want to stay in bed. They toss and turn and the fact they can’t sleep drives them crazy. I quickly learned that when I wake up, I need to get up.
2. Hydrate – Drink plenty of water. The fact that you are depressed may just be a symptom of your dehydration.
3. Exercise – Any bouncing movements such as jogging or bouncing on a trampoline as part of your exercise routine activate the pituitary glands in the back of your head and pump “feel good” hormones into your body.
4. Dress up - Our clothes reveal a great deal about the kind of image we hold of ourselves. I’ve seen people who obviously woke up depressed and showed up at work unshaven, or their hair a mess and their clothes looking like they had slept in them. Dressing up is good way to trick ourselves into feeling better.
5. Listen up – Turn off the news and turn on a positive podcast. What we feed our minds comes in through our ears and eyes.
Ben Kubassek is an international expert on social entrepreneurship, author, and speaker. He’s on a mission to help young people in developing countries launch their own businesses in order to create jobs and bring transformation to their communities.
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