It’s normal to experience transient periods of depression, sadness, irritability, and feelings of insecurity or unworthiness. Everyone has times when they experience less pleasure from activities they normally enjoy or feel diminished hope for the future.
However, with depression, these feelings are more frequent and severe, and may even become constant companions. You may feel an unrelenting sense of hopelessness that makes it difficult to get out of bed in the morning or to carry out basic tasks such as cooking a meal or tending to one’s home.
Being depressed can compromise your ability to function in your job, make it harder to relate to your friend, partner, or child. Depression can also have a negative impact on your health. It may be harder to motivate yourself to eat well, to exercise, and to get enough sleep. If you suffer from depression, you know how lonely, difficult, and painful it can be.
Some people who experience depression also experience alternating periods of elevated mood and may swing back and forth between low and high moods that are destabilizing and can significantly interfere with your relationships, work, and day-to-day functioning.
If you suffer from such mood swings (that are characteristic of someone with bipolar disorder or cyclothymia), you know how disruptive they can be to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, sleep rhythm, and relationships.
There are a number of holistic approaches that can help to reduce your symptoms and improve you overall –- even if you are on pharmaceutical medication to help stabilize your moods.
I view mood disorders on a spectrum with severe depression and severe mania on either end:
Severe Depression Dysthymia Normal Mood Hypomania Mania
Viewing mood disorders in this way ensures that even if you are suffering from some of the symptoms of low or elevated mood, or mood swings — but have not been formally given a diagnosis of one of these disorders — you can still be recognized as needing support. And with treatment, your mood can be better stabilized and your overall health improved.
To round out our discussion on depressive disorders, there is a form of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or S.A.D. (also known as ‘The Winter Blues’), which makes one feel depressed or lethargic only in fall and winter. S.A.D. responds very well to a variety of holistic approaches, including chronotherapy.