A chemical imbalance in the brain. A weak mindset. A natural product of our obsession with social media.
Whatever you believe depression is, the fact remains that it is one of the most pervasive mental health predicaments afflicting people today. And make no mistake: depression is serious. It is the leading cause of suicide at its worst, and a cause of vague melancholy at its best.
The symptoms of depression are too numerous to count. From unrelenting sadness, to general apathy or “emptiness”, to somatic complaints, depression leaves no facet of life unaffected.
Perhaps most perplexing, is determining the cause of depression. While commonalities exist, the symptoms that dominate the disorder are unique to the individual; and as such, the cause of the disorder can be just as varied.
At this stage of the psychological game, we can’t pinpoint a specific individual and say: this is exactly what is causing your depression!
So, unfortunately, the most common course of action is to prescribe antidepressants to modulate the chemicals gone awry in the brain. But don’t be fooled: antidepressants are not a magic pill; sometimes, they do alleviate the symptoms, sometimes they do nothing at all, and sometimes, they make the situation worse.
But before we believe we are depressed, we have to be radically honest with ourselves.
If you think you may be depressed, here are some things to ask yourself:
- What is my internal dialogue like?
- Who am I surrounding myself with?
- What kind of media am I engaging with?
- Am I eating in a way that is kind to my body and mind?
- Have I been exercising regularly?
- Have I been sleeping enough, and at regular hours?
Of course, it is difficult to determine directionality here. For instance, is depression influencing the dietary choices I make, or are my dietary choices making me depressed? Is my internal dialogue making me feel depressed, or is the depression influencing my internal dialogue?
So it’s not a simple matter. But self-reflection is the preliminary step towards a happy mental life.