Feeling sad from time to time is normal and every human being goes through this. However, there are times that sadness lingers. How do we differentiate normal blues from depression? Let’s have a better understanding of our feelings.
There are a number of reasons as to what makes people sad, depending on age and background. Adults may experience sadness through a financial problem, loss of a job, a breakup, etc. Kids may also experience sadness through school or family issues, loss of a loved one, and so on. Sadness can be found in many ways and we can find relief in crying, doing physical activities, or having conversations with loved ones. If sadness can find relief, it will pass with time.
Depression is sadness but with the feeling of no end, it cannot be ignored, and refuses to leave. Depression can creep up on a person without any reason at all. Depression interferes with your social activities, interests, family life, etc. It can come in many forms such as “clinical depression”, “major depressive disorder”, or “major depression”. When depression takes over, your feelings are extremes–they’re either more intensified or you can feel nothing at all.
What are the signs of depression in kids and adults?
- Fatigue and low energy
- Sleeplessness or excessive sleeping
- Loss of interest in activities
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Trouble concentrating or thinking
- Sudden outbursts of crying and/or anger
- Overeating or loss of appetite
- Persistent headaches or cramps
Although depression is a serious illness, it is treatable. Some people require therapy, medication, or both. Depression varies from person to person. A professional will be able to figure out which works for you best, along with your preferences.
Depression may cause sleep problems, which in turn may also cause or contribute to depressive episodes. Studies show that increased insomnia frequency relates to increased depression and anxiety. Pre-schoolers should get about 10 to 13 hours of sleep daily, including naps. Grade-schoolers need 9 to 12 hours of sleep every night. Teens require 8 to 10 hours every night. If possible, make sure you get an adequate amount of sleep to better ensure decreased risk of depressive episodes. If not, ask your doctor for some sleeping medication.
Ignoring or suppressing your feelings is bad for you. We avoid mantras with kids such as “suck it up”, or “get a grip”. Know that our emotions are not under our conscious control, and we also usually can’t control what triggers them. When we are given more information and learn skills on how to work with them, they feel better. However, you may need to go through our emotions to get out of it. Have an open conversation with kids, family, and loved ones, and let them know that they are not alone.
Music therapy originated during World War II, in the 1940s. Soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) noted the positive physical and emotional response from music. Melody, rhythm, harmony can promote calmness by slowing down the breath and heart rates. Try listening to classical music or have a karaoke session with the family if you feel like it!
More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. The hustle and bustle of urban life can actually take a toll on physical and mental health, making urban rates marginally higher for depression than those in rural areas. Take your kids to the park or go hiking to reset the brain’s inner thermostat.
Depression in kids and adults can usually cause isolation, making people feel unwanted. Studies show that people who physically meet with loved ones at least three times a week were the least likely to report a depressive symptom. Schedule some time to meet some friends, family, and loved ones. Maybe hearing some support and love will help ease some feelings.
If it gets a little harder to cope, see a professional: a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. A doctor will give you a better understanding of what you’re going through, give reassurance, recommend lifestyle changes, and offer you medication if appropriate. You don’t only have to see them once! They give you follow-up appointments, monitoring your progress. Seeing a professional is almost like untangling the knots in your brain!
- SleepFoundation.org, Depression and Sleep
- Hilary Jacobs Hendel, Ignoring Your Emotions Is Bad For Your Health. Here’s What to Do About It, Time, February 2018
- Sleep.Org, The Best Sleep Schedules for Kids
- Therese Borchard, How Music Therapy Can Relieve Depression, EverydayHealth
- Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD., Here’s How Living in a City Can Mess with Your Mental Health, Healthline, February 2019
- Tanya Basu, Calling Your Grandma Doesn’t Cut It, Study Suggests, Time
- Erin Mickelee, Spending Time With Your Loved Ones Can Help Keep Depression Away, So Start Spending More IRL Time With Your Family and Friends, Bustle, October 2015
- Sofia Tomacruz, National Crisis for Mental Health crisis hotline now open, May 2019
- Talking to Your Doctor About Your Mental Health, May 2019, Family Doctor