Learn the truth about your depression.

Signs of depression:

  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
  • Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired and having little energy
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Feeling bad about yourself, that you’re a failure or have let yourself or others down
  • Trouble concentrating on things
  • Moving or speaking slowly
  • Agitation or anxiety
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Unexplained physical problems
  • Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself

Depression is more than a chemical imbalance

The general understanding of depression is that it is a chemical imbalance in your brain. While that is true, it is not necessarily the root reason or cause for depression. There are several other factors at play being faulty mood regulation, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events, trauma, medications and substances, and illnesses that influence brain chemicals in any given moment and can trigger feelings of depression. So, depression is not just a chemical imbalance but a combination of all the above.

Cycles and causes

Depression can be persistent and present most days, or it can be a cycle with days/weeks/months of feeling depressed followed by days/weeks/months of no depression. It can be consistent and ongoing for years, or it could be triggered by a life event.

Stress is one major cause of depression. When your body is consistently stressed, as most of us unfortunately are, there comes a time when your brain makes a judgement call that you need to slow down and conserve your energy. Think of it like a hibernation. With chronic stress caused by a heavy workload, past or current trauma, relationship difficulties, or something else your body and brain are constantly in a “there’s a threat” hypervigilant survival state.

Your brain doesn’t know how long this state will last, so it decides it needs to shut down and conserve energy so it can continue to fight in survival mode if the “threat” continues. Learning how to manage stress levels so that your body is not constantly in survival mode can help lessen your chances of depression. Side note, I talk more about the negative impacts of stress on your brain here.

Traumatic life events can also lead to depression. Traumatic events, especially ongoing traumatic events, can create a negative belief system of helplessness and hopelessness. It can leave you feeling like the world is against you and that your safety is always in question. The hypervigilance of worrying if something bad will happen also takes a huge toll on your energy levels. This can all lead to feelings of depression. Healing from your past trauma can help to alleviate those deep-rooted beliefs that can feed into depression.

Coping skills:

  • Manage your stress levels
  • Reach out to family and friends for support
  • Find a therapist
  • Develop a routine
  • Exercise
  • Eat healthy
  • Get enough sleep
  • Engage in self-care
  • Process through past trauma with a therapist