You may have suffered from depression if you feel depressed, tired and powerless for an extended period, and have lost your appetite even for things that you usually think to do. Then you may need help to feel better. Most people get better already after a few weeks with the right treatment.
This article is about depression in adults. If you are a person under the age of 18, you can read about depression in children and teenagers instead.
Feeling sad or depressed is common and happens to everyone sometimes. These are common reactions that usually go by themselves. Read more about feeling bad and what you can do yourself to feel better.
What is depression?
You may have suffered from depression if you feel very depressed, tired and powerless for a period longer than two weeks.
Depression means that you rarely or never feel any joy or desire. Not even when you do things that you usually like. The desire and the energy to deal with things diminishes or disappears, and everyday life feels heavy and meaningless. You can also lose interest in most things around you, like news, work, or what’s happening in your friends’ lives.
Being depressed does not mean that you are weak or that there is something “wrong” about you as a person. Depression is common. Seek help early so you can get treatment.
Symptoms of depression
Depression can cause several different symptoms. Here is a description of various symptoms of depression that are common when you are depressed. You can recognize one or more of these:
- low self-esteem
- feeling of hopelessness
- concentration difficulties
- anxiety, irritation or anger
- bodily discomfort
- thoughts of suicide.
Depression affects your self-esteem. You may dislike yourself and think that you are worthless. Guilt is common, and you can accuse yourself of things that are bad for you.
Having thoughts that life is empty and meaningless is one of the symptoms of depression. You may think that trying to do something wrong is not meaningful and that nothing will ever be good.
If you have depression, your power, your energy, and your energy will be affected. You can be so affected that you can’t keep order around you. For example, you may not be able to pick up after you after eating or pick up something that you have dropped on the floor.
You may have difficulty reading a book or watching a movie. You may feel restless and unfocused.
Anxiety, irritation or anger
You may have anxiety and worry about the future or the demands or expectations of others. You may feel irritated or easily get angry, even for small things.
Depression can also be felt in the body. Here are some common symptoms of od depression:
- You have stomach problems.
- You have a headache.
- You have aches in the shoulders, neck or back.
- You have lost your appetite, or are eating and drinking far too much.
- You have lost your desire for sex.
- You have difficulty sleeping, difficult to fall asleep, wake up several times during the night, or sleep far too long.
Sometimes depression can make you think it would be better if you were not alive. You may also feel that you are a burden to your loved ones. You may have thought that everyone would actually feel better if you were gone.
Sometimes the thoughts of suicide are concrete, and you may have plans to take your life. If you do, you should not be alone. Then you should seek help immediately.
Different types of depression
The most common form of depression is called actual depression, and is usually divided into three levels of difficulty:
- mild or mild depression
- moderate or moderate depression
- severe or deep depression.
The various degrees describe how much you can handle in everyday life.
If you have mild or mild depression, everyday life can work, even if you feel ill.
If you have moderate or moderate depression, it is difficult to cope with everyday life, and it is clear to the immediate surroundings that you are feeling very bad.
If you have a severe or deep depression your entire life is affected, and you may have difficulty eating, drinking or sleeping. For the environment, it is clear that you do not copy or meet the demands of everyday life.
It is common for those who are deeply depressed to have suicidal thoughts, but not everyone with a deep depression has suicidal thoughts or suicide plans.
The risk of recurring depression increases if you are depressed for a long time and do not receive treatment.
The longer you have recurring depression, the deeper and more frequent the depression can become. Therefore, it is important that you receive treatment early.
One type of recurring depression is seasonal depression. Then the symptoms come at the same time each year. Most people with seasonal depression suffer during the dark season. But there are also those who feel the worst in spring and summer.
Fatigue syndrome is a consequence of prolonged stress, without adequate recovery.
It is sometimes called fatigue depression, but not everyone who suffers from fatigue syndrome gets depressed.
It can be a bipolar disorder if you have recurring depression intermittent with periods of mania. When you are manic you are exaggerated and lose judgment.
Such a diagnosis needs to be made by a psychiatrist, ie a doctor who is a specialist in psychiatry.
You may have mild depression, but that lasts for a longer time. It’s called dysthymia.
It is common for you to have dysthymia as a young person. Then the care and your relatives can perceive your depression and low self-esteem as a personality trait.
This can mean that you are not diagnosed and miss a treatment. Just as with real depression, it is important that you get treatment as early as possible.
Depression associated with having children
It is common to become depressed during pregnancy or when you have just become a parent. For some, depression becomes a depression. Then it is important that you seek help for it.
Talk to your midwife or doctor if you feel mentally ill when you are pregnant, or with someone at bvc if you have just become a parent and are not feeling well.
It is difficult to prepare to become a parent if you are not feeling well at all. Read more here about depression when you have children.
Common to get other problems together with depression
It is common for you to have other problems along with depression, such as alcohol dependence or anxiety disorders. Therefore, it is important not to wait too long to seek help.
When and where should I seek care?
If you think you or someone else has a depression, contact a health care center or psychiatric outpatient clinic. Here you can find care. You can contact many receptions by logging in.
If you need to talk to someone
You can call a phone call. Here is someone who listens and can provide advice and support on how to proceed and whom you can contact. You can call anonymously.
If it’s in a hurry
Seek care at a psychiatric outpatient clinic or emergency room if you have thoughts of taking your life, or are feeling so bad that you feel that you can no longer cope.
When you seek treatment for depression, you are told how you are feeling. There are no tests or physical examinations that can show if you have depression. The assessment is made entirely based on what emerges in the conversation.
The person you meet can be a doctor, nurse, psychologist, sociologist or anyone else who has psychiatric skills. If the person you meet is not a doctor, you should also get a doctor’s visit for examination and a supplementary assessment.
Appreciate how you feel
Often you get to fill in one or more so-called tax forms, where you can answer questions about how you feel. There may be questions such as:
- How often do you feel depressed?
- How do you sleep at night?
- How’s your appetite?
- How often do you drink alcohol?
- How are your thoughts on life and death?
The doctor then makes an assessment based on both the interview and the form.
Leave blood samples
Because some bodily illnesses can cause symptoms similar to depression, the doctor often does a physical examination and you may be given samples.
For example, increased or decreased levels of thyroid hormone, anemia or high levels of calcium in the blood can cause symptoms similar to depression. The study can also show if you are deficient in other substances, such as vitamin D.
Treatment for depression
Depression can be treated in several ways. It depends on the type of depression you have and what you prefer. During treatment, it is good if you can try to maintain everyday routines to the extent that you can handle it.
These forms of treatment of depression work for disease:
- advice and support for healthy habits
- electroconvulsive therapy.
Advice and support for healthy habits
The main treatment for mild to moderate depression consists of getting information about what depression is and what you can do yourself to start feeling better.
During the conversation with the healthcare staff, you will be asked questions about your lifestyle. Then you can think about your habits and see if you need support to make changes.
The following advice is the most important to follow:
Physical activity has a calming effect on the brain and helps with depression. How much you need to move to get the effect varies from person to person.
For example, you can walk, bike, swim, gym, work in the garden or do some other everyday exercise. The best thing is if you move every day, for about 30 minutes.
Read more and get advice on training here.
Try to sleep enough
Sleep is important for you to feel good. Try to go to bed at the same time every night. Daylight is important for feeling good and for getting tired in the evening. Therefore, it is good to stay outdoors, preferably in the middle of the day when it is brightest.
If you have trouble falling asleep you can read more here.
Eat at regular times
Eating at certain times can give structure to the day. Try to eat varied and healthy as far as possible.
You can choose something that is easy to prepare and eat as it is if it feels difficult or difficult to cook. Examples of this may be fruits and vegetables, ready-made salads, frozen vegetables or boiled beans canned.
Read more about healthy eating here.
You also get questions about your alcohol habits. It is common to drink alcohol to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. But in the long term, both anxiety and depression are aggravated by alcohol.
It also increases the risk of having serious suicidal thoughts. It is important that you tell the healthcare staff how much and how often you drink. Otherwise, there is a risk that the treatment will not work.
Psychotherapy can help with depression. Going to therapy can also help you make changes in your habits. The most common treatment for depression is cognitive therapy, KBT or interpersonal therapy, IPT. There is KBT treatment that you can get online.
Read more about psychotherapy and other psychological treatment.
Sometimes changing life habits and psychotherapy are not enough as treatment methods, but then you need medicines to have other treatments have an effect. There are several different types of drugs for depression.
It is important that treatment with drugs is constantly evaluated, to see if it helps or needs to change.
Doctors are responsible for your treatment
It is often a doctor who is responsible for your treatment. If you are receiving treatment other than medication, it may be a psychologist, a curator or a nurse who handles the treatment itself and whom you meet regularly.
All people respond individually to treatments, both drug, and psychotherapy. Therefore, it is important that you have regular contact with your doctor during treatment.
You usually get to visit again after a month. Ask for a return visit if you are not offered it.
Assessment of psychiatrists
The doctor at the health center can write a referral to a psychiatric ward if the treatment you have received does not help. There you will meet with a psychiatrist to get a more detailed assessment. A psychiatrist is a doctor who is a specialist in psychiatry.
You may also need a psychiatrist’s assessment if the doctor at the health center suspects that you have severe depression or some other psychiatric diagnosis.
You may also have other problems such as anxiety or alcohol addiction. Sometimes depression needs to be treated before the other can be treated, sometimes everything needs to be treated simultaneously in different ways. It’s different for different people.
Treatment for severe depression
In severe depression, changing living habits or psychotherapy are not the only treatment. Then you usually need to get antidepressant drugs first.
You may also need treatment at a psychiatric clinic. You may also need some practical help to cope with everyday life.
You may need to see your doctor more often for the treatment to be as good as possible. Sometimes, if there is a high risk of suicide, you need to be treated at a psychiatric clinic for your own safety.
You can get electrical treatment or ECT as it is also called if you have not been helped by other treatments. Electric treatment can be very effective against severe depression.
The most common side effect of electricity treatment is that memory is affected. This applies especially to the near-memory during the time that the electricity treatment is in progress. For most people, the problem disappears after the electricity treatment is completed.
After a few weeks of treatment, most people usually feel better. However, it may take a few months before you feel perfectly well. After a severe depression, it can take longer, often up to a year.
Keep in touch with a therapist or other therapist for some time even after the depression, so that you can discuss and get support in the recovery if you need it.
What can I do for myself?
If you have had one or more depression, or know that you have an increased vulnerability, you can try to do things that reduce the risk of depression. Here are some suggestions on things that may help, even if they do not replace professional treatment.
Develop new, healthy habits
Making changes to their daily habits can seem difficult, especially if you haven’t been feeling well for a long period of time. But deciding to make a change, and sticking to it, can also give you strength and boost your self-esteem. It can in itself be protection against depression.
The fact that you move regularly protects against depression. You gain increased resistance to stress, get a night of better sleep and it affects your well-being. Try to find the activities you think are fun and move as much as you can in everyday life.
Those who smoke or sniff may feel better in the long run by quitting nicotine. To help stop the tobacco, you can take any of the medicines that are available. Here you can read more about quitting smoking and what support there is for those who want to quit nicotine.
Daylight is important for feeling good. Therefore, it is good to take walks or bike rides in the middle of the day when it is brightest. Having good lighting at home and at work can also positively affect your mood.
Try to lower your requirements
Since depression causes you to have less energy, you may not be able to cope as much as before. This may mean that you have to accept that you currently have to behave in a different way than you have been used to.
You may need to lower your demands on yourself if you work. You may need to describe to your employer what you are capable of. Most employers understand that you cannot always perform at the top. Even when it comes to personal and family life, it is good to try to lower the requirements.
Avoid taking on extra work if you have great demands on you at the same time in your private life. Say no to activities that you can’t really handle or have time for.
Find ways to unwind
To deal with stress and get more rest in life, it can be good to learn a technique for relaxation and relaxation.
Many people find that walking in nature is stressful. Listening to music, podcasts, or a read book can help you disconnect from hard work.
Choose lustful things even if the lust is missing
Dedicating yourself to things that interest you and give you life is also important. Remember to do the things you usually like to do, even if the desire is just then taken.
The positive effect may come after a while, even if you didn’t think so at first.
Other protective factors
Stress, high demands, and stress are examples of risk factors. The opposite is sometimes called protective factors. Safety factors are things that make you feel better.
For example, it may be supported by close relatives, family, and friends, or to engage in things that feel meaningful. Even fellowship in associations, congregations, and groups or online forums can provide support and a sense that you are part of a larger context or community.
According to the World Health Organization, there are certain aspects that play a role when people estimate how they feel. It is called existential health.
Aspects that are included in this concept include being able to experience harmony, wonder, community, meaningfulness, spiritual contact, personal faith and a sense of wholeness. Existential health does not have to mean that you have a religious belief.
Helping someone else can mean a lot to both yourself and the person you are helping. It can give you inspiration and new power. Gaining and giving appreciation and sharing their experiences can help protect against depression.
Talk to someone
Most people who feel bad, or ponder something, need to talk to a fellow human being. It may be your therapist, a relative you trust, any outsider, or other healthcare professional.
Sometimes you can get help through your health center if you need to talk to someone. You can also seek a private psychologist or therapist. Then you will be responsible for the cost yourself. Here is a list of websites where you can search for therapists.
The National Association of Balans has ten local associations and is for everyone who has experienced depression or bipolar disorder, or who are related.
Here is a list of patient associations that you can contact. You do not need to be a member to contact any of them.
You can also contact any organization that provides support via chat or phone.
Being close to someone with depression
It can be a difficult task to help and support someone who is depressed. Often, the person may seem angry and uninterested, or aggressive.
It is not always the person himself who understands that he is depressed. Then it may be that you as a relative notice the change and need to talk to your relatives about what you have noticed.
Encourage seeking care
Invite anyone who is depressed to seek care. Be patient and try to give hope by telling us that there are treatments that help.
It may feel like someone who is depressed doesn’t listen to what you say, but it doesn’t have to be true. It is common for people who have been depressed afterward to say that it was the support from the surroundings that caused them not to give up hope.
Not harmful to talk about suicidal thoughts
It is not harmful to talk about thoughts of suicide with someone who has thoughts of suicide. It does not increase the risk that anyone thinking of suicide will really try to take their life. On the contrary, it is good to help those who feel bad to put their thoughts and feelings into words.
Talk to the kids
Like adults, children need to talk about their situation, ask questions and get answers about the adult’s depression. Keeping things secret is not a good idea because the child still notices that something is wrong. Easily tell what happened and what will happen. You don’t have to tell everything, but what you tell should be true.
Children also need to be able to show their feelings and tell about their concerns. The most important thing is that the children are told that it is not their fault if a parent is depressed. Children also need to know that mom or dad have good chances to feel better after treatment.
Read more: Being a parent and feeling mentally ill.
If the person who is ill does not want help
Be prepared that it may take time if the person himself does not want to receive treatment. If you are afraid that the person will be harmed, for example, when they talk about taking their life, it may be relevant to receive care against their will. There are various laws governing this. You can read more about this.
As a relative, you may need help yourself
Depression can often affect the relationship in a way that you, your loved ones, may also need help, support, and relief to cope. As a relative of someone who is depressed, you may need to talk to someone about your situation. There may be various opportunities for support for you who are related.