Depending on your moods and how you deal with them, nearly all facets of your life can be turned upside down if you’re experiencing long-term depression. Identifying symptoms is critical in finding effective treatment, but also knowing what can worsen your condition is important, too.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depressive disorder, more commonly referred to as depression, is greater than just being sad or navigating through a tough stretch of life. It’s a severe mental health illness that demands understanding and medical attention. If ignored, depression can be devastating for anyone who has it and their families. Early detection, combined with diagnosis and treatment, including medicine, psychotherapy, and healthy living, can help many people to get better.
How to Recognize the Symptoms
- Feeling sad, tearful, empty, or hopeless
- Angry outpourings, touchiness or frustration, even over trivial things
- Lack of interest or pleasure in things you enjoyed before, like hobbies or sports
- Sleep problems and related issues such as trouble focusing on simple tasks
- Tiredness and low energy, often requiring extra effort for small tasks
- Problems eating, characterized by weight gain or weight loss not related to dieting
- Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness
Children, teens, and older adults can also have depression symptoms. In younger kids and teens, watch for sadness, aches, pains, irritability, concern, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor school performance, self-isolation, using alcohol or recreational drugs, and avoiding social activities. Getting older doesn’t mean you’re automatically depressed, but older adults often face memory problems, personality changes, physical aches and pains, tiredness, and suicidal thoughts or behavior.
In many cases, these symptoms can be treated with different therapy, including ketamine infusion.
What Causes Depression?
- Your biology, shown by physical changes in your brain.
- Brain chemistry and faulty neurotransmitters play a role in depression. They’re responsible for transmitting pain signals and emotions, but if they’re damaged or weakened, depression can occur. Ketamine may relieve depressive symptoms by strengthening neurotransmitters and helping them work better.
- Low hormone levels, especially with pregnancy or during the time after delivery. Thyroid problems, menopause, or other conditions can also lead to depression.
- Inherited traits, also known as your personality.
Are There Risk Factors?
Depression can happen to anyone at any age but is diagnosed more often in women. Risk factors to watch for include:
- Trauma or stressful events, such as physical or other abuse, losing a loved one, death of a loved one, a fractured relationship, or money problems.
- Blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, or suicide.
- Gender identity and being in a non-supportive environment.
- History of mental health disorders either personally or within your family.
Why Depression Gets Worse
There are many reasons why depression may get worse. There are different factors for everyone, but here are several that can add to worsening symptoms of depression:
Physical inactivity can make depression worse. If you’re depressed, staying in bed all day may seem the only option. Still, it’s believed that moderate exercise, such as briskly walking for up to 40 minutes three times per week, can lower depression symptoms and offer long-term outcomes for depressed people.
If you have bad sleep habits, your depression can worsen. Improving sleep hygiene can be helpful. Sleep disturbance is a symptom of depression, and it can cause a negative sleep cycle. With sleep disturbance, you can either have insomnia (trouble falling asleep) and remaining asleep or get too much sleep.
Self-isolation can also make your depression worse. If you feel overwhelmed, you may naturally turn inward. Embarrassment can make you hesitant to engage with others for social support, especially, for example, when getting out of bed every morning feels like a monumental task – but you need to do it anyway. Social support is a powerful remedy.
When people are depressed, they adopt poor eating habits, making their depression worse. The solution? Eat better. Heavily processed foods, refined grains, sugary products, and beer, for instance, are often first-choice items for many people who are depressed. Comfort foods only make you think you’re better able to deal with your emotions.
Focusing on negative thoughts. If all you think about are rejection, loss, failure, and other stressors, you’re bound to feel worse and worse over time. Ultimately, this leads to a false and harmful narrative. Dwelling on challenging problems compulsively aggravates depression symptoms. The best solution for bad thoughts? Professional help, including therapy, diet, lifestyle changes, and ketamine.