CARVILLE: There is a hero within you
We’ve all been there … at some time … one way or the other.
It is estimated that 15% of the adult population will experience depression during their lifetimes. Last year 17.3 million adults experienced a major depressive episode.
Sometimes it comes with just being overloaded with work, finances or family issues. It’s sort of like a malaise or funk. We tell ourselves that it’s ‘temporary’ and that we will ‘snap out of it.’
But sometimes it is the more severe Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) which leads to a persistent feeling of sadness, reduced appetite, irritability and loss of interest in most everything. It is more than a funk and you can’t simply ‘snap out of it.’ People feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.
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The symptoms can be severe enough to cause disfunction in everyday activities, such as work, social relationships, school and family.
MDD can also manifest itself in physical ways: unexplained physical problems, back pain or headaches, sleeplessness, drug or alcohol abuse, slowed thinking, impaired speaking or extreme sluggishness.
Depression can affect children and teenagers as well as adults.
If you feel that you are severely depressed call 911 or see your doctor. Reach out to your family, a close friend or your minister. Take your feeling of depression seriously.
Your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or a combination of antidepressants and psychotherapy if one antidepressant does not work well. Remember, as with most drugs, there can be serious side effects.
If you are not severely depressed, exercise can be an effective treatment. For some people it works as well or better than antidepressants.
The Harvard Medical School describes exercise as a ‘biological cascade’ of events that result in many health benefits such as protecting against heart disease, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep and the release of proteins called cellular neurotrophic (growth) factors which cause nerve cells to grow and make better connections … and yes, helps to relieve depression.
Thousands of studies have shown the physical, mental and emotional benefits of exercise.
When you are in a ‘funk’ it is difficult to do anything.
When you’re depressed, the poor sleep patterns, reduced energy, body aches, loss of appetite and increased pain perception make it hard to start an exercise program. But you owe it to yourself to get started.
If you are out of shape, start with five minutes a day of walking. After a while, boost it to 10 or 15 minutes a day. You must be regular and consistent. After a few weeks you should begin to feel better.
But remember, exercise is not a one time fix. It is a long-term treatment that you must sustain over time … Yes, for the rest of your life!
Your body wants to move … needs to move … and will thank you when you decide to move it. The longer you do it, the better you will feel.
The next step after walking is to start lifting weights to put a gentle stress on your muscles and bones which builds them up to be stronger and more powerful.
Take up hiking, join a gym, start swimming, take up pickleball or tennis, become a weightlifter at age 75 … do anything you set your mind to do.
As a senior, you are not as strong as you once were, but that does not matter. You are who you are, and today is the beginning of the rest of your life. That is true for you, for me and for the rest of the planet.
There is a hero within you. Heroes are ordinary persons who find the strength to persevere and endure despite overwhelming obstacles. Set your hero free!
Phil Carville is a co-owner of the South Yuba Club. He is happy to answer questions or respond to comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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