“You look depressed”.
“I’m literally so depressed rn”.
“Why are you such a depressed soul?”.
These are some comments you must have casually passed at least once in your life. If not, you surely must have heard them from others’ mouths.
So let’s talk about it.
It’s the one word that is thrown around way too carelessly. While doing so, you are unknowingly trivializing the struggle of more than 264 million people suffering from depression globally.
How do you ask?
Because depression is a serious mental disorder that ruins, and sometimes even ends lives. Mislabelling it with temporary sorrow perpetuates misunderstanding and stigma around clinical depression — which most still view as a sign of weakness, attention-seeking, and self-pity.
It thus becomes important to understand the difference between them. In the process, you might just save a life or two.
What does depression really look like?
People often use “depressed” when referring to feelings of sadness and grief. These feelings are triggered by a cause- such as a breakup, loss of a loved one, or just a horrible boss. The moment the cause fades away so does your sadness.
This is however not the case with depression.
It isn’t always caused by a negative incident. It doesn’t necessarily need to have a cause or source. You could have your dream job, thriving relationships, desired financial status, and yet feel unhappy.
“Then why are you sad? Just snap out of it!”. It isn’t that easy.
Depression causes unexplained periods of hopelessness, sadness, and lethargy. Sometimes, even complete numbness. You may also experience suicidal tendencies for no apparent reason. These episodes remain constant, even when everything in your life is sailing smoothly.
You might feel like a burden, unwanted, and alone. This is not something that can simply be cured with positive thinking and sunbathing.
It requires professional medical assistance, just like any other physical ailment.
How to get help when you feel lonely?
Answer these questions honestly.
- Do you feel at peace when you’re not busy doing something? Or do you drown yourself in work to distract your thoughts?
- Do you find yourself turning down opportunities to go out? (even when you want to socialize)
- Is there a feeling of disconnection that exists in your interactions with people?
- Do negative thoughts constantly flood your mind?
If you find yourself nodding, chances are you’re lonely.
Loneliness often comes as a package deal with one major health problem. Yes, you named it right- depression. The American Psychological Association says that loneliness is a specific risk factor for mental health conditions.
Don’t be alarmed!
Just because you’ve been feeling lonely doesn’t mean you’re doomed to be depressed.
Here’s what it does mean: You should actively start taking control of the way you deal with loneliness.
Listed below are 3 ways that can help you take that charge.
1. Connect with yourself
For others to understand you, you need to understand yourself better.
Get in touch with yourself.
- Explore that ocean of ideas inside your mind by trying out new things. Get comfortable being alone (not lonely) and learn to love your own company. Identify the kind of activities and company you enjoy.
- Positively acknowledge your emotions and accept them with an open heart. Don’t waste so much energy fighting and suppressing your feelings. It’s not worth it! Figure out what triggers and alleviates your low moods.
- Go easy on yourself. HEY YOU- We know who you are!! Allow yourself to be vulnerable without beating yourself about it.
Contentment and fulfillment are two things that come from within. It’s challenging, yes. But not impossible!
So, when was the last time you consciously made efforts to appreciate yourself?
2. Build meaningful relationships
This is important. Connect with someone who makes you feel heard. It could be a family member, friend, or even a stranger!
It is nearly impossible to find someone who will understand you completely. However, there are many out there who are patient enough to listen and put in the effort to know the real you.
Hunt them down, and hold onto such people. (Tip: The YouTube comment section is a great place to find your tribe!)
Once you’re confident that it’s a safe space, ask for help or support. Break those defensive walls and indulge in some heart-to-heart conversations.
3. Seek professional help
If loneliness is overpowering you, you might want to seek professional help. Especially if you have been indulging in unhealthy behaviors to deal with it.
Talking to a mental health professional might help you understand yourself better and make more meaningful connections with people. It may also help you discover strategies for healthily coping with loneliness.
A wicked by-product of loneliness is anxiety. Anxiety can be extremely debilitating, especially when you don’t know how to deal with it.
Is there a magic potion that can put an end to it? Sadly, no. But there are things you can do to keep it under control.
Creative ways to channel your anxiety
Anxiety gets your imagination running wild in the darkest directions. Agreed?
So why not channel it positively? After all, thinking is the genesis of creativity.
1. Pen it down
No, we’re not asking you to become a writer.
Screw grammar. Screw sentence formation. Screw the punctuation. Screw EVERYTHING!
Just spit it out. Let yourself free.
Allow your emotions to flow onto the paper in their rawest and most vulnerable state. You don’t need to be coherent or worry about what’s right. This is your own safe space where no one can judge you for venting.
But how effective is this coping mechanism truly?
We’d say, quite effective.
It has been scientifically PROVEN that journaling helps in dealing with depression and anxiety. In general, people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder reported significantly lower depression scores after three days of expressive writing, 20 minutes per day.
Expressing your feelings on paper helps acknowledge the feelings you may be trying to subconsciously suppress. It streamlines your thought process and allows you to identify your triggers. Thus, it makes it easier to organize and navigate through your feelings.
Willing to try this method out? Check out these tips on journaling to manage your anxiety symptoms better.
2. Try Art Therapy
Art therapy integrates psychotherapy with creative techniques like drawing, painting, etc., to improve mental health and well-being. But it isn’t just limited to expressing yourself artistically.
Trained art therapists analyze the patient’s art to develop insights into their psychological issues and emotions. With their guidance, clients can decode the nonverbal messages, symbols, and metaphors often found in these art pieces. This helps patients understand their feelings and behavior so they can move on to resolve deeper issues.
Do you need artistic abilities to participate in art therapy?
Not at all!
This isn’t an art class, dummy. It’s not about the technique, but the experience.
3. Adopt a DIY project
Crafting is a non-medicinal way to stimulate dopamine, which ultimately makes you feel happy. In a study of 3,500 knitters, researchers found that knitting made 81 percent of knitters with depression feel happier.
DIY crafts bring an unparalleled sense of accomplishment after finishing a project.
Have you heard about the Dammit Doll?
As the name suggests, it’s a doll used to relieve stress and frustration. It comes in handy when you want to lash out. You can always try whacking and smashing your anxiety out.
If not this, how about a DIY stress ball? We’re sure a DIY bath bomb sounds tempting. What’s your take?
Crocheting, knitting, sewing, and many more craft projects could be a surprising answer to your suffering.
4. Pick up a coloring book
“Is this a joke? I’m not 3!”. We know you might be thinking this. But hear us out for a second.
Fascinating research in 2005 proved anxiety levels dropped when subjects colored mandalas. Let’s have a look at the science behind this.
Colouring actually relaxes the fear center of your brain, the amygdala. It induces a meditative state by reducing the thoughts of a restless mind. This generates mindfulness and quietness.
Colouring also opens up your frontal lobe, which controls organizing and problem-solving activities. It diverts attention from yourself and allows you to live in the moment. This enhances focus and concentration.
What to do if none of this helps me feel better?
Recognizing that you’re depressed is essential to getting the right help.
That being said, please refrain from self-diagnosing. If you suspect that you have depression, consider discussing it with a friend or mental health professional.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help.
Here are some apps that can help you improve your mental health and connect you with qualified professionals online.
- MindShift CBT (Anxiety)
- Sanvello (Anxiety, Depression)
- BetterHelp (Depression, Anxiety, Eating disorders)
- Therapies (Place to discuss a broad range of mental health issues with peers)
- Breathe2Relax (Anxiety, PTSD)
- Headspace (Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, OCD)
- What’s My M3 (Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, PTSD)
Let’s heal together.
Did you find this article helpful? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!