The seasons are (finally) changing in Texas, pumpkin spice lattes and cooler weather is upon us. The sun is rising and setting earlier, which can greatly impact our mood. You may notice a change in appetite, increased need for caffeine or changes to your sleep patterns. Some may notice an increase in depression symptoms: little interest or pleasure in activities you once enjoyed, lack of energy, persistent sadness, sleep disturbances and difficulty concentrating.
We all experience these symptoms to some degree, especially during periods of high stress or grief. If these symptoms are impacting a person’s functioning and lasting for two weeks or more, then it is considered a major depressive disorder or clinical depression.
The World Health Organization estimates that about 280 million people in the world are dealing with depression. And as we know, it’s difficult to know the actual numbers because of the stigma surrounding mental health and access to resources. Some downplay symptoms and reduce depression to “the blues”. Others learn to function through depression, often not realizing the severity until it Is pointed out by someone else. We can learn to manage depression and intervene before reaching a “breaking point” by increasing our awareness.
Depression screenings are available online at various sites including:
A few simple, but effective strategies for managing depression are:
1. Get out in nature – spend the first part of your day outside for at least 10 minutes or more, take a walk in your neighborhood or find a hiking/biking trail.
2. Socialize – it is natural to want to isolate, especially for those who are more introverted. Be intentional about spending quality time with family or a close friend.
3. Take care of your physical needs – adequate sleep, food and water intake are essential. When experiencing severe depression it can be difficult to do the basics of showering, brushing teeth and completing daily tasks. If you are struggling with these, this is a major cue that more is needed.
4. Talk to a professional – your primary care physician, a psychiatrist or a licensed mental health professional (LPC, LMFT, LCSW) can be helpful in discussing your concerns and understanding your treatment options. If you are in crisis or having suicidal ideation, call or text 988, a 24hr helpline.
Experiencing depression does not make you weak or broken, it means that you’re human and in need of support. Reach out to your community to get the help you need or through the resources listed below. And as always, lead with love.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: https://afsp.org
Black Mental Wellness: https://www.blackmentalwellness.com/
Boris L Henson Foundation: https://borislhensonfoundation.org
Mental Health America: https://mhanational.org/get-help
NAMI - National Alliance for Mental Illness: https://nami.org
SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: https://www.samhsa.gov
US Dept. of Veterans Affairs: https://www.va.gov/health-care/health-needs-conditions/mental-health/