A depressive episode can, on the surface, look very similar to being sad, but are they the same? Depression and sadness do have similarities, as both involve crying, withdrawal, listlessness, and a sense of alienation. However, there are also clear differences between the two.
People who are sad generally know what made them sad and know it's a temporary feeling. However, for a person with depression, there is no single trigger and they may often have trouble determining what can they do about it.
Another difference is that for a sad person, the event or experience doesn't determine what they feel about themselves. However, a person with depression may characteristically feel wretched about themselves and be full of self-hate, guilt, shame, and loathing.
The voices of major depressive disorder can sound like, "I couldn't get out of bed, I forced myself to eat", My motivation to do anything was gone", "I kept thinking that there isn't a reason for me to be here anymore."
How to Get Out of a Depressive Episode?
Although recovering from depression is arduous, it is possible with necessary help, such as:
Depression is not like a light switch we can turn on or off according to our convenience. Although that might seem like you have depression, it may not always be the case.
Your therapist or mental health professional can give a diagnosis of major depressive disorder if you have had the symptoms for two weeks. Although that may not seem like a long time, for a person with depression, it can feel like forever.
2) Authentic Support
If you're going through a depressive episode, you may feel isolated. You may not feel safe enough to share your feelings, as they can be judged or misunderstood.
Looking for support that is authentic and provides us with a safe and non-judgemental space is crucial in the healing process. Anyone who cuts you off while speaking or is interested in providing ready-made solutions is a red flag to your progress.
3) Feel the Emotions
As soon as we become aware of a negative emotion, we want to push it away. One of the biggest steps in the recovery process is acceptance and experience of these emotions. If you want to cry, cry it out. If you're feeling angry, let your anger out in a safe space. Bottling up emotions will not be helpful in the long run.
You are more than your thought, body or any number, so it's important for you to reflect on your thoughts and feelings. Taking deep breathes and reflecting on your current thoughts and feelings can make you feel more grounded and safe.
You may be able to comprehend what precipitates a depressive episode by keeping note of your feelings and symptoms. Early detection of the symptoms of depression may prevent individuals from experiencing a full-blown depressive episode.
Keep a diary to record significant occurrences, adjustments to daily schedules, and moods. Calculate your mood on a scale of 1 to 10 to help you determine which situations or pursuits elicit a certain response. If the symptoms last for 14 days or longer, consult a doctor.
5) You Are Not Your Depression
You are not your ailment; a condition does not define you. Some people find it useful to say, "I am not depression; I only have depression," when depression symptoms first appear.
You can constantly remind yourself of all the other facets of who you are. You may be a neighbour, colleague, friend, spouse, parent, or brother. Each person is unique and has their set of skills, talents, and admirable traits that make up who they are.
6) Remember the Positives
People who are experiencing depressive episodes frequently tend to emphasize the problems while undervaluing the positives. Keep a gratitude or positive notebook as a therapy to promote your self-worth.
You can also write down three positive aspects in a day before going to bed. Regular meditation, walks, healthy meals, and many other activities can enhance your well-being.
If someone you know is going through a depressive episode, it's imperative to educate yourself about the disorder. We can't 'get over depression' or 'stop overthinking', to feel better. Although the healing process is complex, there are three things that we know for sure.
First, depression is not a choice. Second, to have depression doesn't mean you are weak, and third, depression is treatable. Whether you are in the midst of a depressive episode, or have just begun to notice the true symptoms, therapy is a safe sounding board to talk through your deepest, darkest depression. You do not have to carry the heavy, life-altering weight of depression alone.
Janvi Kapur is a counsellor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with specialization in clinical psychology.