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Understanding Depression and How Emotional Intelligence May Help Us Overcome It

What are the symptoms of depression?

The symptoms of depression can vary from individual to individual, depending on the life situation they are experiencing. Common symptoms include:

  • low mood

  • low morale/motivation

  • withdrawing from social circles

  • feeling the need to sleep constantly

  • desire to give up

  • feeling not good enough

  • constant crying

  • repetitive negative thoughts

  • memory loss

  • unable to focus

  • suicidal ideation

What are pre-depression symptoms — what might one experience emotionally or physically?

  • Emotionally, you might have an increased tendency to mistrust your ability, question yourself, and compare yourself to others. You may feel isolated, helpless, and hopeless and believe there is no way your situation can improve. Due to the complexity of your emotions, you may find it challenging to share your feelings with others and feel like you are losing a sense of control.

  • Physically, you’ll likely notice a decrease in your energy, feelings of lethargy, sleepiness, insomnia, or a loss of appetite.

What might lead someone to feel depressed?

Many believe depression results from genetics, a hereditary trait, or an uncontrollable chemical imbalance. However, that is not necessarily the case; depression often results from one or more of the following:

A lack of meaningful connection - with increased reliance on our mobile devices, we spend more time remotely and superficially engaged and entertained than we do having intimate and meaningful conversations in person and building stable relationships.

Because we are social creatures, meaningful interactions are critical to our overall well-being. Otherwise, we may feel lonely, unloved, or disconnected. If we choose to avoid social interactions due to a feeling of awkwardness, over time, we will struggle to empathize, engage, and collaborate with others. Additionally, failing to develop authentic relationships can make sharing our feelings and understanding the feelings of others challenging.

It's important not to let ourselves become consumed by our devices and give in to our compulsion to check our phones or get swept away in distracting thoughts.

Accepting the negative and conditioned beliefs about our self-worth - We are our harshest critics. If we are surrounded by people who demand perfection and offer conditional love, we may sink into low self-esteem and self-hatred.

Living in a highly competitive society, you may feel pressured to live up to others’ expectations and beat yourself up when you make mistakes. However, accepting what others think of you sends a message to your mind that your character and personality are fixed, and your behaviors directly reflect your self-worth. Additionally, if you accept the role and lifestyle others imposed on you, you’re almost certain to live an unfulfilling life.

When we lack awareness of our interests and become disconnected from our true selves, we may find ourselves confused about who we truly are, internally rejecting ourselves. This unhealthy and conditioned mindset may make us feel unworthy, our efforts pointless, or question whether we have a purpose.

It doesn’t take long for these conditioned beliefs to develop into a negative self-image that may cause us to feel displeased with our contributions to the world (lack of purpose and meaning), our appearance (comparing self to others), and how we communicate with others (connection, or projection).

Our thoughts about ourselves may become negative and echo the hurt and trauma of past generations who also fell prey to society’s toxic conditions and standards. Without self-awareness, we may develop learned helplessness and fall into depression because we fail to see a way out.

Not following our passions and fulfilling our potential - If we live without awareness of what inspires and excites us and instead pursue the career or life others envisioned for us or allow fear to cripple our drive to take action, we may feel we have no say in our future. Bringing home a high salary and living in a posh house will not fill the empty void within us that seeks to pursue our passion and life purpose. Believing that we have to accept the expectations of others erodes our personality, characteristics, and shine.

How might one pull themselves out of depression?

Practice “rampage of gratitude” daily – giving a continuous stream of gratitude for what and who you have in your life, memorable or transformative experiences, the positive impact you have on others, your relationships, the ever-abundant Earth, your healthy body, your ability to understand language, anything, and everything — be grateful.

By developing a habit of positive thoughts and giving thanks, you’re strengthening the neural pathways in your brain to look for the positives — what is going well in the moment—and redirect your focus away from the negatives — what’s going wrong. Through consistent practice, the momentum builds up, and it becomes easier to give thanks and feel uplifted.

5 ways to practice daily gratitude:

  1. Set a daily reminder to practice gratitude at a fixed time of the day. Set your timer to run for 10-minutes and list all the things you’re grateful for that you can think of.

  2. Keep a gratitude journal.

  3. Write out what you’re grateful for on small slips of paper, and keep them in a special jar.

  4. Tell a friend.

  5. Say/ write what you’re grateful for and state the reason (to go deeper with the practice, so it’s not just a superficial level of giving thanks and forgetting about it, it sticks in your mind).

Acknowledge your efforts to show up every day (there are days when you wake up and don’t feel like doing anything, commend yourself for waking up anyways. It’s the little efforts that build up.

Self-love and acceptance; cheering yourself on - having a routine of telling yourself in the mirror “I am worthy” or high-fiving your reflection, reading a positive affirmation to yourself, reaching out to a caring friend, watching a funny movie, and playing upbeat music - changes your energy, lifts you even if temporary is a good start to better days.

Process your emotions - whether it’s through writing, speaking, or creating art - all suppressed or bottled-up emotions need to be felt, expressed, seen, and heard (like a balloon, you cannot keep pumping air in and expect the air to stay within the balloon. If there’s no outlet, one day it’ll burst)

Seek help - there may be resistance to taking the first step to seeking help, but it’s the crucial move for positive change to happen. Even if you reach out to someone who cannot help you at that moment, recognize that you’re changing a thought pattern (thinking: “I don't deserve help” to “I am willing to seek support”). When you change a thought pattern, you change your action pattern, which will change your outcome positively.


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