If you or someone you know suffers from depression, you know how debilitating and lonely it can feel. Depression is much more than just feeling sad; it’s a chronic, persistent feeling of despair, emptiness, and exhaustion. It’s going through the motions just to try to make it to tomorrow.
Depression is that nagging voice in your head telling you that everything is pointless and that nothing you do will make a difference.
Sadly, millions of people worldwide suffer from this awful illness, and just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean the person isn’t in pain. While mental illnesses can and often do present with physical symptoms, most of the anguish people feel comes from their mind. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and affects more than 300 million people globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“I’m exhausted from trying to be stronger than I feel.” – Unknown
Symptoms of Depression
People can feel a variety of symptoms ranging in severity. We’ll go over some common symptoms of depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If you experience more than five of these symptoms consistently for at least two weeks, you might be suffering from depression.
- Feeling sad, empty, or anxious for no reason
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Feeling irritable and negative
- Feeling guilty or worthless
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Low energy/ fatigued easily
- Difficulty speaking or speaking more slowly
- Restlessness and difficulty sitting still for long periods
- Difficulty remembering things, focusing, and making decisions
- Sleep problems such as oversleeping, difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, restless sleep, or sleeping too little
- Loss or increase in appetite
- Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
- Body aches such as headaches, stomach aches, digestive problems and muscle aches that don’t get better with treatment
Depression can present with other symptoms, but the ones listed above are the most common. Now that we’ve gone over symptoms of depression, we’ll go over effective treatments for it.
Treatment for Depression
Keep in mind that you can find dozens of different remedies online claiming to treat or cure depression; however, the ones listed below are scientifically proven to ease symptoms. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, here are the most common depression treatments:
This includes therapy such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy), IPT (interpersonal therapy), or psychodynamic therapy.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy involves assessing and working to change negative thinking patterns associated with depression. It teaches patients valuable skills and coping strategies for negative thoughts, as well as how to recognize them.
- Dialectical behavioral therapy is a specific type of therapy that teaches skills such as mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness. It was originally created to help chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). However, research shows that it can treat a variety of other conditions such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.
- Interpersonal therapy focuses on helping people improve their relationships with others and evaluate how they interact with others. If the main cause of depression in an individual is determined to be relationships with others, this type of therapy might be recommended.
- Psychodynamic therapy involves looking into an individual’s past to recognize negative thinking patterns and behaviors associated with prior experiences. It helps the person work through those experiences and gain a new perspective. Also, unconscious thinking processes and behaviors are a key focus of this type of therapy.
Antidepressant such as Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), and Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can all aid in minimizing feelings of depression. Antidepressants can take 2-4 weeks to begin working and up to 12 weeks to reach full effect. Many people will have to try out several different medications before finding one that works for them.
While there is still quite a stigma surrounding treating depression with medication, 40-60% of people taking an antidepressant see an improvement in their symptoms within six to eight weeks, according to research.
It’s been proven, however, that a combination of medication and psychotherapy is more effective in treating depression than either one on its own.
Many people don’t want to take medication or go to therapy, and would rather take a more natural approach. These are some of the most common, effective natural remedies to treat depression:
- Exercise has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of depression. It releases feel-good hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, both of which are lacking in people with depression.
- Eating healthy is also important for people with depression. Certain nutrients have been shown to help alleviate symptoms, including zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin D.
- Some people choose to take supplements such as St. John’s wort for depression. Other common supplements for depression include 5-HTP, SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-Methionine), and folate (L-methylfolate). Consult with your doctor before taking these, however, because they can react negatively with antidepressants or other medications.
- There are many studies on how meditation can positively impact depression. Because meditation helps you destress and literally rewires your brain, it can be a valuable tool in the fight against depression.
These are just a few methods that have been shown to help depression. Many others exist, but ultimately, you must do what feels right to you. People react differently to various treatments, so it’s often a process of trial and error. Keep in mind that alternative therapies typically work best in conjunction with medication, therapy, or both.
Now you know about some effective treatments for depression, and we hope you find something that works for you. Since depression can affect anyone of any age or economic status, we thought we would bring you advice from a pretty big name in the celebrity world. Depression can feel like an uphill battle, but a message from this man will help you keep going when you feel like giving up.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Reaction to a Fan with Depression
A Reddit user named Ali who suffers from depression took to Reddit for advice about how to get back into working out. He posted on the /r/bodybuilding subreddit, where Arnold posts frequently, asking for advice from the Terminator himself.
“I know this is pandering but, I’ve been depressed for months and haven’t hit the gym during that time,” he wrote. “Mr. Schwarzenegger, can you please tell me to get off my lazy a** and hit the gym? I swear to everything I hold dear that I will snap out of it and go.”
Arnie did actually reply to the fan, but instead of criticizing him, he empathized with him instead.
“I’m not going to be that hard on you,” he said. “Please don’t be that hard on yourself. We all go through challenges, we all go through failure. Sometimes life is a workout. But the key thing is you get up. Just move a little. Roll out of bed and do some pushups or go for a walk. Just do something. One step at a time, I hope you feel better and get back to the gym. But don’t beat yourself up, because that’s just useless talk. It doesn’t get you closer to the gym. And don’t be afraid to ask for help. Good luck.”
Upon reading Arnie’s reply, Ali said that he “jumped out of bed” and went to the gym. Arnold checked up on him the next day and was pleased to find out that his messaged motivated Ali to get back to the gym. Other Reddit users commented on Arnold’s response, saying that he’s an “amazing mentor” for checking in on the young man and offering sound advice.
Arnie even posted a video response, saying he was happy Ali was feeling a bit better.
This goes to show that advice and motivation goes a long way, no matter if you’re a celebrity or not.
Final thoughts on Help for Depression
Depression can take a toll on a person after a while, especially without proper treatment. However, there are effective treatments out there, such as self-care, exercise, eating healthy, meditation, therapy, and medication. A combination of these may work best, but every individual is different and responds differently to treatment. It’s worth it to try out various methods to see what will work best for you personally.
We hope that you can take Arnold Schwarzenegger’s advice and remember to not be hard on yourself as you move through life. No matter if you suffer from mild or severe depression, all that really matters is that you keep going. Some days you might only accomplish getting out of bed, while on another day, you might run a marathon. Remember that life isn’t about how fast you get to the finish line; it’s about your experiences along the way.
Don’t be your own worst enemy; nurture yourself and treat yourself with compassion. You, above everyone else, deserve your own love and understanding. Depression is a difficult thing to live with, so don’t make it harder by putting yourself down. You’re more than worth self-love and acceptance.