Everyone gets depressed at times, but sometimes the weight of depression stays with us for weeks or months. That’s clinical depression. A website called “After Deployment” offers veterans training videos and workbooks on a variety of issues, including depression. You can access the site by going to: http://afterdeployment.dcoe.mil/topics-depression.
How do you know that what you’re dealing with is actually depression? Everyone has bad days, and sometimes we have multiple bad days in a row, but with clinical depression, the bad days come and don’t go. If your sadness lasts more than 2 weeks, it’s likely you’re clinically depressed.
Feelings that go hand-in-hand with depression include:
- Overwhelming sense of hopelessness
- Isolation or feelings of aloneness
- Survivor guilt
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Feeling like a failure
- Feeling like everything is pointless
- Sleep disturbances (too little or too much)
- Weight changes
- Increased anxiety
Depression affects your body, actions, thoughts and mood. You may feel a loss of energy, sadness, anger, worthlessness, or have thoughts of suicide or death. Depression doesn’t just affect you; it affects everyone in the family.
The on-line workbook offers forms to help you record your thoughts. Since behavior change precedes mood change, you will be encouraged to begin exercising even though that may be the last thing you want to do. Exercise causes the release of endorphins that increase feelings of calmness and peace. Relaxation programs can help too. Other things that can help pull you through include:
- Strong spirituality
- Setting specific future goals
- Good coping skills
- A good sense of humor
- Good family support
- Getting enough rest, good nutrition and exercise
If you seek medical help, you’ll likely be offered psychotherapy and/or medications, both of which are effective ways to successfully overcome depression.