Our today’s topic is depression. I have already touched on this mental health condition earlier. However, today we are going to dissect it more carefully.
We’ll go through all of the symptoms, examine every little nook and cranny, let all feelings out, and share ways to battle each symptom.
Below is the list of symptoms of depression described in the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision.
In the case of mild, moderate, or severe depressive episodes, the patients have low mood, decreased energy and activity. The ability to focus, feel joyful, and engaged is diminished. Fatigability is common even after a minimum amount of physical activity. Sleep patterns are disturbed, with a decrease in appetite. Confidence and self-esteem are low, even in mild forms of the disease. The patients often experience feelings of guilt and worthlessness. The low mood which fluctuates on a daily basis does not depend on external factors and may be accompanied by “somatic” symptoms such as a loss of interest in the surroundings and pleasurable sensations, disrupted sleep (waking in the morning 2 hours or more before the usual time), depression being worse in the morning, objective evidence of marked psychomotor retardation or agitation, anxiety, marked loss of appetite and weight, as well as low libido. The depressive episodes are classified as mild, moderate, or severe depending on the amount and severity of symptoms.
I have had almost all of the mentioned symptoms, except for low appetite. As a matter of fact, I don’t have much appetite at all. However, when going through a depressive episode, I go on a sugar binge. Typically, I gain weight because I stay in bed for almost the entire time.
Asthenia, best described as lack of energy and weakness, has been my true companion since puberty. Mornings are by far the hardest. Doing a simple morning routine like brushing teeth, fixing hair, taking a shower and even having breakfast seem like mission impossible.
Since I now am aware of the symptoms, I try to stick to certain rules that help me to stay afloat during depressive episodes. E.g. I’m not forcing myself to get everything done right away in the mornings. When I get a chance, I don’t set an alarm. Even if I feel bad about it, even if I don’t have enough time to do my work and can’t plan my day, I still let myself sleep as much as my body needs to. I try not to stay up late as well. My psychiatrist told me not to take my medication right before going to bed but rather an hour or two prior to it. This treatment regimen won’t work for those who have been taking medication for a short while or fall asleep right after. Whatever the case may be, make sure to consult your doctor. Maybe it will work, after all.
When going through depression, doing the morning routine is not always possible. I can’t care less if I brushed my teeth or changed into something else. Sometimes I strike seemingly simple things off my to-do list once I accomplish them: brushed my teeth — check, had my coffee — check.
After completing each item on this list, I have a smoke. That’s my quirk, so to speak. I am not recommending doing this or anything. However, it helps me personally to break down the whole process into separate tasks.
When experiencing a severe depressive episode, I have no desire to leave the house. Just being out feels painfully uncomfortable. Being in that kind of state, there’s no way you can do things differently. During my last depressive episode, I left home only to go to my therapy appointments. I would catch a cab, even though it was only a short walk away. After the therapy session, my husband would pick me up. That helped a lot.
When I felt slightly better, I would find things to do in the city just to go out more. By shielding myself from depression, I would commit to certain obligations, like attending English classes. That way, I kept myself motivated to do more, and once I had entered remission, the list of those things got only longer.