Hello there, if you're reading this, this is part 2 of a 3-part blog series to shine light in the topic of Mental Health. If you missed part 1, you can go HERE.
My goal is to give you as much information about this topic as there are so many misconceptions about this and it's hardly spoken about. I pray that this will be informative and will also inspire you to reach out to someone who might be experiencing Mental Illness.
What Is a Mental Illness? Mental Illnesses are a medical condition that affects mood, thinking and behaviour. It is characterised by abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behaviours and relationships with others. Mental Illnesses include depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, dementia and developmental disorders such as autism.
Depression & Anxiety are the 2 most common metal illnesses that in reality some of us live with everyday. Today I want to focus on Depression and the practical ways we can manage and overcome this mental illness.
Depression What is Depression? It is a medical condition and disorder that is one of the main causes of disability worldwide. Globally, approximately 264 million people live with depression. According to the DSM-5, to be diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, one must experience 5 of following symptoms within a 2-week period or more (at least 1 symptom being diminished interest/pleasure/depressed mood):
Depressed mood (persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest)
Anhedonia (diminished interest or loss of pleasure in almost all activities)
Significant weight change or appetite disturbance
Fatigue or loss of energy
Feelings of worthlessness
Diminished ability to think/concentrate; indecisiveness
Recurrent thoughts of death & suicidal ideation with a specific plan, a suicide attempt or specific plan for dying by suicide
Sleep disturbance (insomnia or hypersomnia… too much sleep, or not enough sleep)
Types of Depression Gradients of depression? Severities of depression will vary depending on its cause for e.g. mild [but still disabling for an individual] to majorly severe, to which its persistence can last over weeks, months or even a period of years. Whether mild or major depression, care for self, treatment and/or therapy are vital depending on its severity for the individual. Major Depression: Also known as ‘major depressive disorder’ or ‘clinical depression’, ‘unipolar depression’ or simply ‘depression’ involves low mood and/or loss of interest and pleasure in usual actives, as well as other symptoms:
Symptoms experienced most days and last for at least two weeks
Affects and interferes with all areas of a person’s life, including one’s ability to function daily and work tasks, as well as social relationships Melancholia: Term used to address a severe form of depression where physical symptoms are present… major changes include the individual beginning to move more slowly, experience a depressed mood and a complete loss in pleasure of almost everything. Bipolar Disorder: ‘Mania’ is like the opposite of depression and will vary in intensity. Symptoms may include:
Extreme experience of low and high moods
Having lots of energy
Racing thoughts and little need for sleep
Having difficulty focusing on tasks and feeling frustrated and irritable
Most closely linked to family history and affects approximately 2% of population Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): A mood disorder with a seasonal pattern (cause is unclear but it’s thought to be related to variation in light exposure in different seasons)
Characterised by mood disturbances (periods of depression or mania), starting and ending in a particular season. Depression starting in winter and decreasing when season ends is most common (usually diagnosed after individuals has had similar symptoms during winter for a couple of years)
Symptoms include possible lack of energy, excessive sleep, overeating, weight gain or crave for carbohydrates
Very rare in Australia (more likely to be found in countries with shorter days and longer periods of darkness, including cold climate areas of the Northern Hemisphere) Causes of Depression
Life circumstances/situations: Abuse, bullying, trauma, neglect, grief and loss (losing a loved one), poor support/social network
Biological make-up: Hormonal factors, genetics, chemical imbalances
Way of living/lifestyle: Big life transitions, overworking/excess stress/burn-out, financial hardships, unhealthy habits for e.g. drug and alcohol abuse
Spirituality: Existential crises, shifts in world-views, lack of fulfilment
Cognitive factors: Low self-worth/esteem, body image issues, perfectionism, distorted (black & white unhelpful thinking style)
Now that you've got some info, I want you to remember that nothing is impossible with GOD! And no matter what, He is there for us through any situation we might be facing.
We can always go to HIM for help. There's so many strategies, techniques & "how-to's" out there for mental illness, but I believe God is our healer and He knows exactly what we need in every season.
Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.”
Praying and reading God's word is one of the most powerful tools we have in this life.
God is with you ALWAYS & You're never alone in this!
Coping strategies for Depression
Here are some practical ways you can battle depression
1. Reaching out for help.
Who are my ‘trusted’ people? Who do I feel safe with? Who am I able to freely able to open up to and talk to? What are mental health professional services that I can reach out, for e.g. a counsellor, psychologist, psychiatrist? 2. Broaden social support network.
Join a community organisation? Open up to my family members? Reach out to that long, lost friend? 3. Have your own list of coping strategies/mood boosters. Ensure they are things that bring you joy, and are good for your soul!
Listening to lively, upbeat music in the morning? Going for daily walks/jogs? Playing a sport? Reading a book? Doing art? Writing poems? Writing songs? Making music? Playing an instrument? Hanging out with friends? Being outdoors? Going to the mountains/beach/a nice park? Spending time a pet? 4. Boring self-care.
Even on the days it seems absolutely impossible to eat, shower, hydrate and get some good sleep hygiene, give it your best shot! If you’re unable on some days, don’t blame yourself and be with gentle with yourself. If you are able on some days, be sure to reward yourself and give yourself a pat on the back! As mentioned above, boring self-care is still self-care. 5. Good routines help you to gain a sense of control and stability.
Create for yourself your very own, personalised morning, and night-time routine!
In the mornings, what helps you to get out of bed, and up and going? Is it lively music, a little, fun dance? Good breakfast? Engaging in physical activity such as jogging, light walking, going to the gym or doing some yoga? In the night-time, what helps you to relax and settle down? Reading a book? A cup of tea or hot water? Putting on a diffuser with essential oils? Writing your thoughts from the day in a journal? Night-time yoga stretching? A devotional/religious prayer? 6. Know you are not alone. Know you are valuable. Know that your life is worthy.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
Get connect with fellow Faith-Filled Sisters for support!
How to help someone, whether a family member, friend or loved one, living with depression?
1. Assure support: Ask open-ended questions such as, ‘what’s been happening for you?’ or ‘what have you been feeling?’, use active listening skills (validating/reflecting back their feelings), show interest and empathy with your body language 2. Notice possible signs: Seeming sad/less energy, hopelessness about future, feeling empty or worthless, expresses decision-making/sleep struggles, eating more or less than usual, less interest in usually enjoyed activities/social withdrawal, talk about death/suicide 3. Assist in finding support: Affirm bravery for seeking support (whether from family/friends/professional help), help them find a suitable therapist/GP they are comfortable with, help them make a list of questions for their therapist/what they want to unpack in their first session, go to appointments with them if needed 4. Self-care: Assure your support and also set appropriate boundaries for e.g. ‘I can’t talk until X time because of work. Can I check in with you then?’, share care with other family/friends or involve mental health hotlines/services, and helping them build a strong/wider support network is key 5. Patience: Day-to-day tasks can be sometimes overwhelming living with depression… offer help with such tasks for e.g. laundry, paying off bills, groceries, going to appointments, and remember kindness, empathy, compassion and gentleness are all key.
I pray this blog has given you some information about depression and the practical ways you can cope and/or help someone cope if they are going through this. Join me next month for our part 3 and final blog where we will be looking into Anxiety together. The more we shine light into these topics, I believe we will be more aware on how to deal with them, with God's wisdom and guidance.
“For believers in faith — God’s call is for the likeness of His kindness, empathy, gentleness, light and life to permeate amongst those held captive by mental torment... as being ambassadors of freedom is our call.” - Micah
My name is Micah. I’m aged 23 and a lover of the beach, reading books and the company of all my family and friends.
I founded Thrive Life (Mental Health Service business) in 2020, post-graduating my degree in Social Sciences/Counselling whilst also previously working in the community welfare/social sciences field (particularly children/families). With a passion for working with people, I strive to purpose the foundations of Thrive Life and its team on the pillars of spreading light, life and hope for individuals and their overall wellbeing. Thrive Life exists to raise Mental Health & Illness awareness and to spread the value of holistic wellbeing/approach to health.
I’ve also founded Unsilent Survivor, a non-profit organisation aimed as a movement to stop sexual assault, violence and abuse by raising awareness for survivors.
Ethiqué & Co. is an e-commerce business my sister and I have also founded to raise awareness for ethical and sustainable living — that of which we both value in our own lives! We create functional, go-to, trendy every day products bettering your world, and the world around us. Above else, I’m a huge believer in people and the power of community. You can also find me on my YouTube channel, Micah Grace, where I share all things lifestyle, fashion and beauty — all with a hope to create community in it’s sphere!
The Kingdom Women Entrepreneurs is a Sisterhood Community for The Vision Builders, Boundary Breakers, Passion Igniters; Called & Anointed To Shine In Their Uniqueness & God Given - Calling.
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