We have all experienced depression at some point in our lives—it can be a normal, healthy reaction to experiencing a loss or traumatic incident. However, if this intense sadness lingers for weeks or longer, and accompanies other painful feelings such as worthlessness and hopelessness, you may have a serious problem. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can overcome the depression that isn’t going away on its own, and begin feeling like your normal, happy self again.

Everyone reacts to depression in different ways, but typically those who are depressed feel this way for the majority of their days. It may be worse in the morning or at night, and tends to be associated with energy loss and feelings of hopelessness and guilt. The activities we once enjoyed are no longer fun to us. We may still be able to perform these “fun” activities, such as playing a sport, but we will do so with indifference and an unfocused mind. We may feel indecisive, restless, and unable to concentrate because of how these negative thoughts make us feel. Many people behave in other ways that seem out of character for them, such as becoming more or less talkative, or eating more or less often.

Challenges Faced By Depression

If we do not treat our depression, it can lead to many challenges. It is difficult to do most activities in life when we constantly feel so horrible about ourselves. You may not even want to get out of bed for days on end. If you know you aren’t going to leave the house that day, you likely won’t even have the energy or motivation to take a shower. The negative thoughts you experience begin to control your lack of action. Whereas once you were in complete control of your life and full of self-motivation, you feel as though you’ve lost control, or sometimes even the will to continue living.

Depression robs us of our happiness and motivation, creating a lack of interest and motivation. Even brushing your teeth may feel like a huge chore. A lot of the things you do might start to seem completely meaningless. What’s the point of going to work? Why get out of bed? Who cares? It doesn’t matter what I do; I’m worthless. In more extreme cases, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts.

We may dwell on past events in which we felt rejected, which encourages the negative thoughts we have about ourselves. If we believe all the negative things that have been said or thought about us, they are simply facts to us, so we often believe that there is no problem to solve—that this is just how life is going to be. Even if we want to do something as mundane as watching TV, we may not be able to focus on it because our thoughts are so “loud” over what is on the screen.

How Depression Affects Other Relationships

There are many different ways depression can affect those around us. We may not want certain people to know how we are feeling, so instead of telling them, we shut them out or avoid contact all together, causing them to feel that they did something wrong or that we are angry with them. Those who know we are depressed are affected, too. They might feel frustrated that there is nothing they can say to you to make you feel better. Sometimes they might feel hopeless or depressed themselves because of it.

Since we say and do things that we normally wouldn’t while depressed, it can make us difficult to deal with. Many people may not want to be part of our lives anymore, while those who try to take care of us may find that it’s very hard work. For example, your significant other might try encouraging you to eat healthy, but the last thing you feel like doing is eating, and you refuse. It can be nearly impossible to motivate someone to do even the simplest things when they’re depressed. Your depression obviously affects you more than anyone else, but that doesn’t mean your experience and effects of depression aren’t also hurting those around you.

How Therapy Can Help

Fortunately, therapy can put us on the road to recovery. We can be taught to replace our negative thoughts with positive ones. We can learn to let go of guilt. A therapist can even help you pinpoint why you are depressed and what you need to do to resolve the issue. The more we understand about ourselves and why we behave the ways we do, the easier it is to move forward. Therapy can help us let go of the past and find meaning in our lives once again. The best part is that therapy teaches us these rules for life, so it is unlikely you will need to seek therapy repeatedly in the future.

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