COVID-19 infections have been increasing sharply in Malaysia and the impact of the pandemic on mental health is no longer debatable. Fear of sickness, uncertainty, loneliness, lockdowns, unemployment, school closures, and job interruptions have contributed to a rise in mental health issues, especially depression.
What is depression
Depression is a common condition that affects over 264 million people globally. It is different from normal mood swings and short-lived emotional reactions to challenges in everyday life. Depression may be dangerous to one’s health, especially if it lasts for a long time and has a moderate or severe intensity as it causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle day-to-day tasks including sleeping, eating, and working. Thus, causing a person to suffer and perform poorly in their responsibilities. As depression can last for weeks, months, or even years, it is shown that it is an ongoing problem, not just temporary. Every year, around 800,000 individuals commit suicide due to severe depression, the second greatest cause of death among those aged 15 to 29.
Signs and Symptoms
Depression appears differently in each individual, although there are some similar symptoms. It’s essential to realize that these symptoms might be a natural occurrence of life’s lows. A person may be depressed if they have felt sad, down or miserable most of the time for more than two weeks, losing interest or pleasure in their usual favourite activities, and experiencing several of the signs and symptoms in the list below. However, the more symptoms you have, the more likely you are to suffer from depression.
- Persistent sad, anxious, or feeling empty
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Slow speech and movement
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty in concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Sleeping disorders
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Recurrent thoughts or attempts of death/suicide
The chemical imbalance approach may help for some individuals, but for many, some other underlying health concerns are the fundamental cause of their depression. Investigating and addressing these issues directly can assist and provide a more permanent solution to the problem that even medications are unable to provide. Below are the root causes of depression.
- Environmental factors
- Leaky gut and gut dysbiosis
- Additional conditions, such as bipolar disorder
- Major life changes, trauma, or stress
- Sleep deprivation and Artificial Light Exposure
Ways to overcome depression
Building your emotional resilience may also help you deal with difficult events in the future, and this is a very important technique for dealing with the stress and uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your nutrition and lifestyle choices have an influence on every aspect of your well-being, including your mental health, therefore making changes in these areas is an important first step if you are suffering from depression.
1. Change Your Diet
We also often resort to “comfort foods” high in harmful fats, sugar, and processed carbohydrates. However, these meals, as well as too much coffee and alcohol, can have a negative influence on your mood. Instead, eat fresh, healthy meals whenever feasible, and increase your consumption of mood-boosting nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acid, Vitamin B6 and B12, moderate zinc and copper, magnesium, and polyphenols
2. Adopt A Healthy Lifestyle
Exercising is one of the last things you want to do when you’re down, but it’s also one of the most efficient methods to lift your spirits. In fact, regular exercise has been shown to be just as beneficial as antidepressant medication in treating depression. Even if you’re still on lockdown or have a stay-at-home order, there are ways to include exercising into your daily routine. Besides, getting enough sleep can help alleviate your depression. Avoid staying up late and plan out a sleeping schedule.
3. Change Your Focus
Find new ways to interact with the world. Spend some time in nature, care for a pet, volunteer, rediscover your old hobbies or take up a new one. You may not feel like it at first, but you will begin to feel better as you reintegrate into society. Integrating a relaxation method into your daily routine, such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, or a breathing exercise, can give a break from the cycle of negative thinking while relieving tension and anxiety that cause depression.
4. Connect with People Around
Isolation fuels depression, so reach out to friends and loved ones even if you don’t want to be a burden to others. The mere act of talking to someone face to face about how you feel can be quite beneficial. The individual with whom you speak does not have to be able to help you. All they have to do is be a good listener without distracting and judging you.
Depression can often come on gradually, so it can be difficult to notice something is wrong. Many people try to cope with their symptoms without realising they’re unwell. It can sometimes take a friend or family member to suggest something is wrong. Although it is not always possible to prevent or avoid depression, but effective therapy is always available. Positive lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms and prevent recurrence.
At Klinik Q, we can help cure your depression through functional medicine. We dig deeper to find out the underlying root cause of a health issue which includes depression. Get in touch with us to learn how we can help.