It's one of those nights again. You lie on your bed weighed down by your endless thoughts. You think and think, or rather over think. Like a trickster, your mind plays melancholic thoughts on a constant loop. And then, you make the colossal mistake once again. You start comparing your life with others. An inner critical voice, full of self-loathing, lashes out at you. Slowly, you find yourself falling into a deep and dark abyss.
All of us have experienced it, haven’t we? But are these mood swings taking a toll on you? Are your day-to-day activities being affected? Are you unable to focus on anything and even lack the motivation to get up to face the day? If yes, then perhaps it’s the time to introspect.
We live in a harsh world of competition and escalating stress levels. In a world driven by anger, jealousy, frustration, fear, melancholy and apathy; it is easy to fall prey to conflicts, failures, unnecessary comparisons and loneliness. When these emotions are not dealt with, they tend to snowball into burning issues clawing at your chest. You bottle up your pain sadness and hide it deep in your heart- thinking that it will fade away. Another blunder! The pain keeps growing, spreading its roots and consuming your soul. It haunts and torments you day and night. And, there comes a point when you cannot think of anything but the pain and suffering.
So, what to do?
The first step is to observe your own behaviour and look for red flags. Some of them are:
Loss of interest in daily activities
Sadness, emptiness or feeling down
Tiredness and lack of energy
Low self-esteem, self-criticism or feeling incapable
Trouble concentrating and trouble making decisions
Irritability or excessive anger
Decreased activity, effectiveness and productivity
Avoidance of social activities
Feelings of guilt and worries over the past
Poor appetite or overeating
All these are red flags which indicate ‘Dysthymia’ or ‘Persistent Depressive Disorder’.
Dysthymia is a chronic form of depression which may last for years. It significantly hampers academics, relationships, social life, work and daily activities. Since these feelings have been going on for a long time, you may feel that they will always be there. The challenge is to NOT be in a denial mode and acknowledge these red flags.
The exact cause of depression is not known. It may involve more than one cause, such as:
Biological differences: People with persistent depressive disorder may have physical changes in their brains
Brain chemistry: Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that likely play a role in depression. Recent research indicates that changes in the function and effect of these neurotransmitters and how they interact with neurocircuits involved in maintaining mood stability may play a significant role in depression and its treatment.
Inherited traits: Persistent depressive disorder appears to be more common in people whose blood relatives also have the condition.
Hormonal imbalance: Hormones play an important role in maintaining our mood and behaviour. Changes in the levels of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin can alter our moods drastically. Hypothyroidism is also known to cause depression.
Life events: As with major depression; traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one, financial problems or a high level of stress can trigger persistent depressive disorder in some people
Thus, it is important to visit a doctor for proper diagnosis and medical advice. The usual treatment is a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
However there are other methods to alleviate yourself. Some of them are:
Journaling: It helps to let out repressed emotions and process them.
Communication: Talking to a close family member or friend can help you see things from a different perspective.
Physical Exercise: A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. If you are weak and sickly, you are bound to feel low. Moreover physical activity is linked with release of endorphins, the chemical substances which make us feel good.
Mindfulness/Meditation: It helps in calming our nerves and to become fully aware of our senses and feelings. This leads to clarity of thought.
Positive self-talk: Once you stop comparing yourself with the outside world and only focus on your growth, you will be a happier person. So pat yourself in the back and learn to hug yourself!
Discovering new hobbies/interests: Instead of wallowing in self-pity and negativity, use that energy to tap into your hidden potential. It would also help to ward off loneliness.
Acceptance: This is the most important task. Only when you accept your flaws, you can go beyond them.
In the end, you have to discover yourself and be your own anchor. Nobody else can do it for you. Look within and awaken your dormant spirit. Reignite your passion and find your purpose in life. Here is quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson to cheer you, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters as compared to what lies within us.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Priyasha Bagchi is a student of Lady Hardinge Medical College. She is a voracious reader with passion for writing. She has always been vocal about the cause of mental health.