journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Dealing with MDD

A year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder or Endogenous Depression) so I feel like I’ve had a long time now to learn to deal with it. I thought I would give you guys some tips on how I’ve learned to deal with the disorder so that you are able to use them or explore your own.

Major Depressive Disorder is a mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is often accompanied by low self-esteem and a loss of interest in normal activities. Major Depressive Disorder is a disabling condition that adversely affects the person’s family, work or school life, sleeping and eating habits as well as general health. 80% of suicide deaths are of sufferers with MDD.

A person who has a major depressive episode usually exhibits a very low mood which invades all aspects of life. Major depressive disorder usually causes preoccupation with thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt or regret, helplessness, hopelessness and self-hatred. In severe cases, there may be symptoms of psychosis. Other symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, poor concentration and memory, withdrawal from social situations, and thoughts of death and suicide, along with insomnia.

Things that can help with MDD include:

  • Talking to friends, family and strangers. Talking offers a distraction from our own thoughts and feelings and allows us to feel the emotion of others.
  • Drawing. Drawing or colouring offer a state of relaxation and creativity. A lot of people with mental health problems are highly creative and so this type of activity will not only bring distraction but also comfort.
  • Social Activities. When you’re suffering with MDD, joining in with the world and going to social activities or events is the last thing on your mind. However, social activities can help. Being around others can help to feel better.
  • Moving. Moving seems like an odd one but improving your activity levels and taking part in exercise not only gives you energy but improves mental well-being. A 10 minute walk can help boost mood for around 2 hours.
  • Relax. We’re usually told to not relax and to keep busy but relaxing does help. Sleep is usually affected when you have MDD as MDD can cause insomnia. A lack of sleep increases low mood so getting at least 8 hours a day will help. Other ways to relax include: sitting outside in the sunshine, taking care of a pet, or relaxation.

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

The knock-On Effect of an Eating Disorder

How Eating Disorders Affect the Mind

The psychological consequences of an eating disorder are complex and difficult to overcome. An eating disorder is often a symptom of a larger problem in a person’s life. The disorder is an unhealthy way for that person to cope with the painful emotions tied to the problem. For this reason, the emotional problems that triggered the eating disorder in the first place can worsen as the disorder takes hold.

An eating disorder can also cause more problems to surface in a person’s life. Eating disorders make it difficult for people to perceive things normally because certain chemical changes take place when the body is deprived of nutrients. As a result, the body relies on adrenaline (a hormone that is normally released during times of stress and fear) instead of food for energy. Adrenaline naturally makes someone excited, which makes it more difficult to deal with painful emotions.

Research has shown that many people suffering from an eating disorder also suffer from other psychological problems. Sometimes the eating disorder causes other problems, and sometimes the problems coexist with the eating disorder. Some of the psychological disorders that can accompany an eating disorder include depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety and panic disorders.

In addition to having other psychological disorders, a person with an eating disorder may also engage in destructive behaviours as a result of low self-esteem. Just as an eating disorder is a negative way to cope with emotional problems, other destructive behaviours, such as self-mutilation, drug addiction, and alcoholism, are similar negative coping mechanisms.

Not everyone who has an eating disorder suffers from additional psychological disorders; however, it is very common.

DEPRESSION. Depression is one of the most common psychological problems related to an eating disorder. It is characterized by intense and prolonged feelings of sadness and hopelessness. In its most serious form, depression may lead to suicide. Considering that an eating disorder is often kept a secret, a person who is suffering feels alienated and alone. A person may feel that it is impossible to openly express her feelings. As a result, feelings of depression will worsen the effects of an eating disorder, making it difficult to break the cycle of disordered eating.

Feelings of depression will worsen the effects of an eating disorder, making it difficult to break the cycle of disordered eating.

OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOUR. Obsessions are constant thoughts that produce anxiety and stress. Compulsions are irrational behaviours that are repeated to reduce anxiety and stress. People with eating disorders are constantly thinking about food, calories, eating, and weight. As a result, they show signs of obsessive-compulsive behaviour. If people with eating disorders also show signs of obsessive-compulsive behaviour with things not related to food, they may be diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Some obsessive-compulsive behaviours practised by eating disorder sufferers include storing large amounts of food, collecting recipes, weighing themselves several times a day, and thinking constantly about the food they feel they should not eat. These obsessive thoughts and rituals worsen when the body is regularly deprived of food. Being in a state of starvation causes people to become so preoccupied with everything they have denied themselves that they think of little else.

FEELINGS OF ANXIETY, GUILT, AND SHAME. Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety (fear and worry), guilt, and shame at some time; however, these feelings become more intense with the onset of an eating disorder. Eating disorder sufferers fear that others will discover their illness. There is also a tremendous fear of gaining weight.

As the eating disorder progresses, body image becomes more distorted and the eating disorder becomes all-consuming. Some sufferers are often terrified of letting go of the illness, which causes many to protect their secret eating disorder even more.

Eating disorder sufferers have a strong need to control their environment and will avoid social situations where they may have to be around food in front of other people or where they may have to change their behaviour. The anxiety that results causes people with eating disorders to be inflexible and rigid with their emotions.

SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION

  • Extreme mood swings
  • Inability to experience pleasure in anything
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Constant fatigue (exhaustion)
  • Insomnia (sleeplessness) or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite or compulsive eating
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Poor memory
  • Unexplained headaches, backaches, or stomachaches

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

All about Depression

What is Depression?

Let’s start by defining depression. When things aren’t going how you planned them or something bad happens, its normal to feel down and upset about it. Usually, you’ll feel down for a few days. However, Depression is different. Feelings of sadness and upset last longer than just a few days and make it difficult to cope with everyday life. Depression is common – 1 in 6 people will experience depression at some point in their lives! Depression varies from mild to severe. Mild depression can cause a person to feel low, sad or fed up for a while. The person may not enjoy life and may find things harder. Eventually, these feelings lift. Severe depression makes a person feel very down and unable to cope with normal activities. It lasts longer than mild depression. The person may feel hopeless and think of suicide.

Are you depressed?

Depression affects mood,  thoughts and physical feelings. You may experience some of the following symptoms:

Mood

  • feeling low and fed up or numb and empty most of the time
  • lacking confidence and feeling anxious
  • being irritable, over-sensitive and tearful
  • feeling worthless
  • finding it hard to enjoy anything – nothing seems fun
  • withdrawing from friends and feeling you can’t face going out

Thinking

  • finding it hard to concentrate, to remember things and to make decisions
  • feeling guilty and thinking you are to blame for things that go wrong
  • seeing everything negatively and expecting the worst
  • finding it hard to be motivated and thinking ‘there’s no point in doing things’
  • thinking you would be better off dead, making suicide plans

Physical

  • either being very restless or unusually slowed-down
  • feeling tired all the time and lacking energy
  • changes in sleeping: difficulty in getting to sleep; waking up early; sleeping much more than usual
  • changes in eating: loss of appetite or eating more than usual (‘comfort eating’)
  • weight gain or weight loss
  • loss of interest in sex

Overcoming depression

1: Start by accepting that you are depressed and it’s not your fault. Being angry or critical with yourself will only make things worse. Telling yourself to ‘Pull yourself together’ or ‘Snap out of it’ won’t help. The key to overcoming depression is to break the ‘negative cycle’ of thinking where you become depressed or anxious about being depressed. If you find this happening, try to stop the negative thoughts. Some people shout ‘Stop!’ in their heads, or imagine traffic lights on red. Try to give yourself more encouraging messages: ‘It’s not my fault I feel like this. I will get better – it takes time.’
2: Challenge your negative expectations. Depression makes you interpret events in the worst possible light: ‘My housemate didn’t speak to me when he came home – he’s annoyed with me’. Try to think of alternative explanations: ‘Perhaps he’s had a bad day… after all, he was quite friendly this morning.’ ‘Maybe he’s still hungover from last night.’ Then think which of the explanations is most likely.
3: Set yourself small and realistic challenges. Reward yourself for your effort. If you don’t feel you’ve achieved much, remember that you are one stage further on than when you started. When you feel ready, work for a little longer each day.
4: Try to establish a routine for meals, bedtime etc and stick to it, even if you don’t feel hungry or sleepy. It’s important to eat healthily so that your body can fight infections and doesn’t become run down. Include something you like doing as part of your routine, even if you don’t have much enthusiasm at first.
5: Exercise, including gentle walking, can help to lift your mood. Again, set realistic goals: walking may feel more manageable than going to the gym.
6: Learn and practise relaxation techniques which can help reduce tension.
7: Talk to people. Some of your friends may be worried about you and want to help. If going out feels too difficult, try to arrange to meet for a coffee or talk to someone on the phone. Some people find it helpful to talk to other people who have experienced depression, eg on an internet chatline.
8: Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs such as cannabis – they are likely to make you feel worse. Alcohol lowers your mood and recreational drugs will intensify your depression. Some people find herbal remedies helpful, but they can have side-effects. Seek advice before you take any non-prescribed medication.

And remember – Breathe, take life one day at a time!

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journey to recovery · mental health · mental health blogger · mental illness · personal journey · Uncategorized

Dealing with a diagnosis of Endogenous Depression

I’d like to talk about the diagnosis of Endogenous Depression, a type of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Endogenous Depression used to be a distinct disorder but it’s rarely diagnosed these days. In 2014, I became one of the small number of people with a new diagnosis of this mood disorder. It can be difficult to find information on a disorder that is no longer diagnosed as frequently as before and it took me a long while to grasp the diagnosis of Endogenous Depression. Growing up, I thought there was only one type of Depression so when the doctor went and inserted some strange sounding word in front of it I sat there in absolute shock. He didn’t explain – actually, although I was diagnosed with the disorder in November 2014, I wasn’t aware of the actual diagnosis until the summer of 2015.

Endogenous Depression has no apparent triggers or causes. It usually occurs for no reason at all and is said to be caused by genetic and biological factors. Symptoms usually start to occur for no reason at all but these symptoms are very similar to other depressive disorders. Common symptoms of Endogenous Depression include:

  • persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable
  • fatigue
  • lack of motivation
  • trouble concentrating, thinking, or making decisions
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • social isolation
  • thoughts of suicide
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • loss of appetite or overeating

These symptoms are usually treated through a combination of medication and therapy. Medications to treat Endogenous Depression usually include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) or Selective Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs). Examples of these types of medication include citalopram, prozac, paxil and duloxetine. Sometimes, TCA’s can be used for the treatment of Endogenous Depression. However, side effects of TCA’s are usually more severe and so other medications are usually used beforehand.

Therapies for Endogenous Depression include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy. Electro convulsive Therapy is also another option if medication and therapy does not improve the condition.

If you have a diagnosis of Endgenous Depression, would like more information or feel you may have a diagnosis of the disorder, please feel free to email me at:

savannahaliciax@gmail.com

Mat