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Mental Health Perspectives: Part Two

Mental Health Perspectives: Part Two
Part two features a piece on depression and its effects on the mind and body.
PsycholoGenie Staff
In part two of my series, Mental Health Perspectives, I'm going to examine the effects of depression on both the mind and the body. Depression's effects are not only felt mentally as many have discovered. It also can cause severe physical symptoms. I will examine several symptoms of depression and include my own personal experience with these symptoms and what I did to overcome them.

So, what are these symptoms I'm talking about? The ones I'll discuss in this piece are sleep disturbances, appetite changes, inability to get out of bed or leave the house, persistent feelings of loneliness, lack of motivation, and decreased energy. Let's go in to each in depth:

Sleep disturbances: One sign that you could be depressed is either sleeping too much or too little. A depressed person might sleep twelve to fourteen hours a day or they may be unable to sleep at all due to nightmares or racing thoughts. I experienced the too much sleep side of the spectrum, which was a huge tip-off to my mother that something was seriously wrong with me. If you suspect something isn't right with your sleep schedule, talk to your doctor.

Appetite changes: A depressed person will often see a change in their appetite, whether it be constantly craving food or an inability to eat due to lack of appetite. Both can be hazardous to one's health and even contribute to the depression. I experienced weight gain during my depression thanks to a severe craving of carbohydrates. It wasn't until I'd overcome this low point in my life that I found myself able to combat the weight gain I'd experienced.

Inability to get out of bed or leave the house: When you feel as if all joy has gone from your life, often you see no reason to leave the house. All you want to do is lie in bed until the day's over and you can sleep again. You might find the only comfort from the pain is to distract yourself with television or a book. This was one of the major symptoms that kept me from returning to daily life and even as I was recovering it persisted. A depressed person sees no reason to leave because they have no hope left for the future. The best thing they can do, though, is to get out and try to enjoy life again. It may be difficult and it will take time but enjoyment will return.

Persistent feelings of loneliness: Even if we're surrounded by friends and family, the depressed often feel alone in life. They feel like even those closest to them are unable to understand the situation their mental illness has put them in. I still feel lonely at times to this day, but if that loneliness lasts for days on end as it did for me it might mean you are seriously depressed.

Lack of motivation: Even a mentally healthy person can find motivation to be a difficult thing to find. For the depressed, it can be next to impossible. When a person is covered in a cloud of darkness and unhappiness, it feels as if there is no reason to motivate because no matter what you do you'll never be happy. It's this incredible hopelessness that myself and millions of other Americans with depression have experienced.

Decreased energy: This can often goes hand in hand with the inability to leave bed. I found it difficult to leave my home not only because I didn't want to but because no matter how much I slept I felt as if I had no energy. Oftentimes these overwhelming emotions we feel when we're depressed deplete our body's energy. Rather than turning to artificial stimulants like caffeine, getting up and moving is often the best way to combat this energy drain. Exercise gets the blood flowing and keeps endorphins going to your brain so that you feel not only more energetic but happier as well.

If you are experiencing these symptoms or suspect that you may be suffering from depression, make an appointment to meet with a therapist or psychiatrist. Though it may be difficult to get help it might be the best thing you ever do for yourself. If you are contemplating suicide, please seek help immediately by going to an emergency room. If your situation is not an emergency, it is highly recommended you seek help from someone who specializes in mental health rather than seeing a regular doctor, as a mental health professional will be able to help you in a better way. If you are unable to see a therapist or psychiatrist in the short term, a trip to your family doctor may be needed. Just always keep in mind what I've been told time and time again...

Take care of yourself!!