Whether you have been feeling blue for a week or for a couple of months, you are not alone when it comes to dealing with a constant feeling of sadness. Fighting depression is a tough battle for many Latinas, but there is hope for those feeling under the weather.
What is depression?
Depression is not just stress. According to PubHealth.com, clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer. According to “Understanding depression,” an article published by Harvard Health Publications, depression is more complex than a chemical imbalance in our brains. It is believed to be caused by a combination of faulty regulation of chemicals in the brain, stressful events, genetics, medication, or medical problems.
Anyone can be affected
Anna is a Latina teen dealing with depression. “I remember my frustration with my parents as a teen. My friends were going through the same problems. Yet, I began isolating myself and pushing them away.” Anna’s life is different than from her friends. Her father has gone through cancer treatment, her brother is currently serving time in jail, and her mother lives in Guatemala after being deported. Although she smiles each day as she is around friends, Anna hides her suffering and sadness, claiming it is merely the stress all teens experience.
According WebMD, certain types of depression can be hereditary, meaning depression can run in the family. Yet, depression can occur if you have no family history of depression. Depression is not limited to adults, it happens to children and adolescents as well. The US Department for Human Services reports that Hispanic students (12.8%) are significantly more likely than White, Non-Hispanic or Black Non-Hispanic students (6.7% and 7.3%) to attempt suicide. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2007 report found Latinas suffer the most from this culture clash. The report states “Hispanic female high school students in grades 9-12 reported a higher percentage of suicide attempts (14.0%) than their White, non-Hispanic (7.7%) or Black counterparts.”
MedlinePlus explains that depression can change the way you perceive yourself, your life, and others. Those diagnosed with depression usually see everything with a more negative attitude. They have difficulties imagining a positive solution to a problem. A depressed person feels agitation, restlessness, and irritability. They become withdrawn and isolate themselves. They often describe lacking the ability to concentrate, lacking energy and have a feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt. Depression can also cause trouble sleeping or too much sleeping. In extreme cases, depression can lead to thoughts of death or suicide.
A Lack of Understanding
Wendy Gonzalez, 19, shared her experience with chronic depression. “I told my parents that I had chronic depression and my dad responded with a ‘Tu no tienes nada.’ He said I didn’t have anything and that it was all a product of my fast paced life. I lived a fast paced life in order for me to not be so aware of my emotions,” Gonzalez said.
Depression can result from cultures clashing. As these two cultures share different values, a lack of understanding between parent and child develops.
Remember, depression is temporary. You are not alone; follow these tips in order to kick depression to the curb.
1. Add an Energy Boost to Your Diet
The first step in feeling better is to focus on taking care of yourself. Adopt a healthy food diet that contains quality nutrients. This means adding whole foods, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats to your diet. Eating junk food can make you feel weak and sluggish, while eating properly will give you the energy boost to get moving. Adding structure to your meals and eating at same times each day can help you avoid overeating or skipping meal. Being healthy also means being active. A healthy exercise routine of 60 minutes three times a day is helpful when combating depression. Take a walk around your neighborhood with a parent, pet or friend.
2. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol
This may be a no brainer, but to some drugs and alcohol present themselves as tempting mood boost. Reality check: those boosts are only temporary and will cause more damage than you think. Not only do drugs and alcohol damage your body, the use can also increase suicidal feelings once their effects fade. Additionally, drug and alcohol use can lead to addiction, which can also worsen your depression. While people often use drugs and alcohol to forget their troubles because it temporarily relieves their anxiety and relaxes them, this habit can develop into alcohol or drug abuse once the individual becomes dependent on the “boost.” The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that teens with depression are twice as likely as those who are not depressed to start drinking alcohol.
3. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
There are many forms of help out there. One common form are self help books varying from guidance published by professionals, scientific explanations of depression published by scientists, or collections of inspiring stories of people who have overcome their own depression. “Before I learned that I had chronic depression I got to a point that I did not know what to do anymore…My therapist recommended a book called The Mindful Way Through Depression,” explains Wendy Gonzalez. Do not be shy to talk to your school counselor or therapist; you will not be judged for your actions and these are professional people that can help your fears and frustrations, as well as give you the contact information of a psychiatrist to get you some therapy or medication.
4. Catch Those Z’s
Make sure you are get enough sleep. When feeling depressed, 8 hours simply isn’t enough. Attempt to sleep early by removing distractions like TV, laptops and cellphones. Sleeping will help you think clearly and give you energy. Experts say sleep disorders could be the hidden cause of depression among the youth. A study presented by Dorothy Bruck at the Australian Psychological Society’s inaugural Health Psychology Conference found that about one in ten women between 21 and 25 years old experienced recurring problems sleeping, but otherwise had no symptoms of mental illness. But nine years later, those women were four to five times more likely than others in the study to be diagnosed with depression.
5. Acknowledge and Share your Feelings
“It’s a process of being mindful of our feelings,” explains Wendy Gonzalez. “When I started feeling depressed I acknowledged how I feel. I’d say: Okay, yes, I am feeling sad…unfortunately this sadness may never go away and I can’t sit here all my life, so why not try and do something more entertaining,” she adds. Opening up to a trusted adult or friend can help reduce the feeling of loneliness. Find a way to express your emotions because it is not healthy keeping them bottled up. Instead write music, paint, or write in your journal.
6. Don’t Isolate Yourself
Remember to keep your friends close because there is someone there who wants to help you. When you want to give up, keep pushing yourself to move forward. A helpful way to accomplish that is by continuing to do those things you enjoy and never fear getting help. It may be difficult seeing an end to your depression, but through therapy, medication, or a combination of both, your depression can stop. Lack of communication is a severe problem with those suffering from depression because they have so much going on inside. It is best to deal with your problems than having to deal with depression longer than necessary.
With the high statistics of depression, you are not alone. There is hope to fighting the blues, but it starts with taking the first step. Even if it is a small step, it is the step in the right direction.