Depression affects your emotions and impairs your ability to think clearly. Symptoms often include sleep disruptions, mood swings, a lack of motivation, and appetite changes. You might find yourself feeling overwhelmed or disconnected from your emotions. Your recovery can be impacted by a lack of motivation or feelings of hopelessness. There are several ways you can learn to regulate your emotions while living with depression.
How Do I Know if I Have Depression?
According to information provided by the National Institutes of Health, up to 60% of individuals in treatment for substance use disorders have previously been diagnosed with depression. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 4.7% of all adults feel some degree of chronic depression.
Some common symptoms of depression include the following. If you find yourself experiencing some or all of these, you should speak with a doctor about possible treatment options.
- Mood Symptoms: apathy, loss of interest, anxiety, hopelessness, mood swings, extreme or consistent feelings of sadness, and guilt
- Behavioral Symptoms: irritable, restless, crying for no apparent reason, and voluntary isolation
- Cognitive Symptoms: inability to focus, “slow” thoughts, intrusive self-harm thoughts
- Physical Symptoms: changes in appetite and weight, insomnia or oversleeping, fatigue, and restlessness
Depression in Men vs. Women
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, men and women experience depression differently, and their outward displays of emotion and symptoms differ accordingly. Men often experience depression with less severe symptoms than women, and instead of displaying unusual sadness, they may instead be more irritable or agitated. Men may have more trouble regulating negative emotions while depressed.
Mood Swings and Muted Emotions
Major depression can mute or muffle emotions which makes it harder to express how you feel at any given time. Part of this is due to changes in the brain caused by depression. Mood swings are not uncommon, and they often swing from one extreme to the next. For example, you may feel unable to stop crying, or you might feel more frustration than a situation warrants. These mood swings are part of the same process that makes it hard to maintain emotions or follow emotional cues.
Learning to Properly Identify Emotions
Some people have been depressed for so long they are no longer able to recognize the cause and meaning of certain emotions. Correctly identifying how you feel will help you learn the proper responses to give in personal and social situations. Therapy is an excellent way to learn how to identify and regulate emotions in a healthy way. You can also use the following exercises:
- At the end of the day, write down your experiences and feelings. Try to pinpoint which events led to which emotions, and then do your best to label those feelings.
- Consciously check in on your emotional levels throughout the day and try to identify what you are feeling.
- When you react strongly to a situation, stop and try to think through what you are feeling and why.
- Practice emotional wellness using coping skills and information like the Emotional Wellness Toolkit provided by the National Institutes of Health.
Feeling Isolated and Alone
Although depression is one of the most common mental health diagnoses worldwide, that does not stop the people experiencing it from feeling isolated. You see your family, friends, and co-workers navigating through their daily lives with seemingly no distress, and that can make you feel alone in your experience with depression.
Here are a few things you can try to help cut down the sense of isolation you might be experiencing:
- Join a depression support group or online forum where you can share your experiences and connect with people who can understand how you feel
- Make a schedule for connecting with friends and family via phone or chat several times a week to motivate you to reach out even when you feel tired or overwhelmed
- Volunteer to help out in your community for several hours a month
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
We all need help sometimes. Depression can make even small tasks feel insurmountable. There are resources available in your community and support system. When you feel overwhelmed, do not be afraid to ask for help and do your best to accept it. Guilt, anger, and shame can sometimes be a part of depression but try not to let those feelings get in the way of reaching out.
One of the first steps towards overcoming depression is to learn how to interpret what your mind and body are telling you. The National Institute of Mental Health has some shareable resources for anyone experiencing depression. The CDC also has a helpful list of resources. You can use these along with talk therapy and other treatments to regulate your emotions and physical health.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 246 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Anyone who has experienced it knows that depression affects nearly all aspects of life and is closely tied to the regulation of emotions and moods. Low emotional intelligence can increase the risk of developing depression. You can learn coping skills that will make it easier to conduct day-to-day activities, even during periods of deep depression. There are exercises and routines designed to help people with low emotional intelligence learn to understand what they are feeling. Everlast Recovery Centers has treatment options that can help people in recovery who may be experiencing depression and related symptoms. Your depression does not have to interfere with your ability to get access to recovery resources. Depression can increase the risk of a relapse which makes it crucial to get help. Contact Everlast Recovery Centers today by calling us at (866) 338-6925.