Everyone will experience a case of “the blues” from time to time because life is full of ups and downs.
However, if you feel like emptiness and even despair have taken over your life and you just can’t shake them, you may be experiencing depression.
Depression makes it difficult for you to function and enjoy life as you did before. Simply making it through the day can be extremely overwhelming.
You should know, though, no matter how hopeless you think it is, all hope is not lost- you can get better.
Once you understand the signs, symptoms, causes and treatments of depression, you’re on your way to recovery.
First of all, you need to know what exactly causes depression. Sadness and feeling down are typical reactions to the struggles, disappointments, and setbacks of life.
Of course, lots of people use the word “depression” to describe these feelings, but truthfully, depression is so much more than just sadness or disappointment.
For some people, depression is having a feeling of impending doom- like you’re waiting for the other foot to drop- or “living in a black hole.”
On the other hand, sometimes, individuals who are depressed don’t feel any sadness at all, they feel lifeless, apathetic, and empty. Men who are depressed tend to feel restless, aggressive, and angry.
You should know that depression is much different than normal sadness, no matter how you’re experiencing it.
True depression takes over your day-to-day life, and interferes with your ability to sleep, eat, work, have fun, and study. Feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and hopelessness are very intense and won’t go away.
Signs/Symptoms of Depression
As mentioned, depression typically varies from person to person, but there are some very common signs and symptoms.
While it is important to keep in mind that some of these symptoms are part of the normal lows of life, you should be aware that the more you have, the longer they’ve lasted, and the stronger they are, the more likely you’re suffering from depression.
When the symptoms become disabling and overwhelming, you should know that it’s time to seek treatment. Following are the common signs and symptoms of depression:
- Helpless/Hopeless feelings- feeling like there is nothing you can do to make your situation better.
- No interest in daily activities- unable to feel pleasure and joy, no more interest in activities you were formerly interested in.
- Changes in weight/appetite- a change of more than five percent of body weight in one month, whether gain or loss.
- Changes in sleep patterns- waking early, unable to sleep, or sleeping too much.
- Irritability/anger- feelings of agitation, restlessness, or even violence, lowered level of tolerance, shortened temper- everyone and everything seems to get on your nerves (for no good reason).
- Lowered energy levels- feeling physically drained, you may feel like your body is heavy and even the smallest tasks drain your energy.
- Feeling guilty/worthless- being harshly critical of your own perceived mistakes and faults.
- Reckless behavior- taking part in things such as substance abuse, reckless driving, dangerous sports, or gambling.
- Difficulty concentrating- problems with memory, decision making, or paying attention to things.
- Inexplicable aches/pains- have more backaches, headaches, stomach aches, and achy muscles.
Using Music to Treat Depression
First of all, you should see your physician or a mental health professional if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Music can be used to supplement, or complement, other mental health treatments, such as medication or therapy, but cannot be used to overcome deep depression all by itself.
Ask your physician or mental health professional for some recommendations on using music therapy to treat your depression.
Next, do some research on music therapy on the American Music Therapy Association’s website.
If you think you’d be more comfortable working directly with a music therapist to treat your depression instead of trying to work on your own, let your physician know.
He/she should be able to point you in the right direction to find a music therapist in your area that has some experience with music therapy and depression.
Take some time to explore the effects that music has on your emotions. Listen to lots of different types of music that you like and pay attention to the effect it has on you- does it lift your spirits?
Does it seem to encourage you to cry or let out other emotions? It really is true that music can have a physical effect on the person listening, so pay attention to what it’s making you feel.
When you find one that makes you feel calm or physically lighter, make a note of that song and the feelings it invoked.
Now, take that list of songs and compile them on a playlist on your MP3 player or a CD.
If there are many songs on the list, organize them into categories of how they made you feel.
For example, if there are several songs that have a calming effect on you, put them in a category to listen to when you’re feeling anxious about things.
Set aside some time for yourself to be alone and listen to the music that improves your mood.
Make sure that place is comfortable and is completely free of any and all distractions. Headphones or earbuds can help to reduce any distractions that could be caused by outside noises.
Focus yourself entirely on the music, letting your entire body to respond. Don’t think about anything else except for the music- the melody, the beat, the lyrics- don’t focus on any concerns or worries. Take deep, slow breaths and just listen.
Keep in mind that music therapy is meant to be a complementary therapy- in addition to your medication or therapy sessions- you should not use music therapy by itself to treat major depression.