When my sister and I were young, one of our favourite games to play was Stuck in the mud. One of the rules of this game was that you were to remain stuck until somebody freed you from the mud. As simple as it may sound, this game guaranteed hours of fun as we ran around the garden screaming “You’re stuck!” and then having to wait for someone to unstick you so that you could roam freely again. This simple game of Stuck in the mud is what depression is like. It is something that causes immobility.
We use the word depression when we describe a number of feelings, such as sadness, fatigue or lethargy, frustration, disappointment or even anxiety. It can affect any person at any given point in their lives whether male or female, youthful or elderly, a ballet dancer or even a rugby player. It has no biases because there are so many causes.
Depression is not caused by one thing, but by the interaction of biological and psychological factors.
Biological causes of depression:
- Genetic predisposition (family history)
- Hormone imbalances (such as thyroid dysfunction, iron deficiency etc.)
- Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.
Psychological causes of depression:
With this in mind, we can easily explore symptoms that relate to depression such as:
- Low self-esteem
- Low mood
- Low energy
- A tendency to have negative thoughts
- Lack of motivation
- Feelings related to stressful events (e.g. a death in the family)
- Physical symptoms, such as more or less sleep than usual or even experiencing interrupted sleep; appetite may decline in some while others tend to eat more than usual; sexual interest may decline; people may stop doing the things they used to enjoy
- A tendency to want to withdraw from social activities.
What can you do to start feeling unstuck?
Return to the things that you once found enjoyable; start setting yourself free by introducing activity to your schedule. Maintain a healthy diet and note that sugar can also lead to a decline in mood or add to irritability. Go to the movies, go for a walk in the park, listen to great music, get sufficient sleep and set short-term goals in order to monitor your progress.
The point is to start doing… for no one else but yourself.
It is important to gain an in-depth understanding of the causes of your depressive symptoms otherwise your treatment will be as effective as sticking a plaster on a broken bone – it won’t work. If you suspect that you or a person close to you may be suffering from depression, consult a registered healthcare practitioner in order to secure the best road forward in terms of individualised treatment. There is no one-size-fits-all approach!
By taking action you allow yourself to be set free one moment at a time!
Written by: Lauren Claassen, Psychologist at Mighty Minds