If you spend time online, you might come across the term “crippling depression.” Nowadays, people use this term when they feel “crippled” by persistent feelings of sadness, pessimism and worthlessness. However, it’s not a clinical term, which can lead to potential misunderstandings.
Explore the concept of crippling depression, recognize its signs and discover ways to overcome it.
What is Crippling Depression?
Although not a distinguished clinical term, crippling depression is a colloquial term used to convey the severe nature of people’s mood conditions. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), around 21 million adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode.
This term is also referred to as overwhelming, debilitating or severe depression. It’s worth noting that it’s not a diagnosis but rather a phrase only used to describe the feeling of being unable to perform well because of lingering negative emotions.
Warning Signs of Crippling Depression
Severe depression involves feelings of sadness and hopelessness that can negatively impact a person’s ability to function. In worse cases, it can lead to estranged relationships, self-harm, substance use and job loss.
Simple daily tasks such as making a meal or texting a loved one may require immense physical and mental energy from someone battling with crippling depression. Other symptoms of major depressive disorder include:
Persistent feelings of sadness, frustration, anger or hopelessness
Thoughts of suicide
Apathy and lack of interest in activities or people
Severe mood swings
Slowed speech, thought and physical movements
Changes in appetite
These symptoms vary from person to person. While it’s common for people to experience every so often, those diagnosed with clinical depression experience these symptoms for weeks and even months.
Common Types of Depressive Disorders
There are several types of depressive disorders that can lead to an episode of debilitating depression:
1. Clinical Depression
Also known as major depressive disorder, this type of disorder causes significant life disruptions, making it difficult for the person to complete everyday tasks.
2. Persistent Depressive Disorder
This is a long-term depression associated with constant feelings of emptiness and sadness. People with this type of disorder may also lose interest in the activities that were once enjoyable.
3. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Also referred to as winter blues, SAD plagues those living in icy locations lacking consistent sunlight. It is associated with feelings of sleeping too much, difficulty concentrating and feelings of sadness. One common way to get rid of SAD is to get more sunlight during winter.
4. Postpartum Depression
This disorder affects women after giving birth, causing intense anxiety, fatigue and sadness. This condition makes it challenging for mothers to care for themselves and their babies. Postpartum depression can happen anywhere from weeks to months after giving birth.
How Depression Affects Your Body
While depression is a mental health condition, it can manifest into physical symptoms, especially if left untreated. If you have a depressive disorder, you may be at a higher risk of the following:
Weight gain: Depression may prompt an individual to overeat, leading to a higher risk of obesity and related conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
Heart disease: There’s a strong correlation between depression and stress. When you’re feeling stressed, it speeds up your heart rate, which can lead to heart disease over time.
Compromised immune system: Depression can weaken your immunity, making it harder for your body to combat infection and diseases.
How to Cope with Debilitating Depression
Depression can be debilitating, but the good thing is you can take steps to help reduce your symptoms.
1. Get Active
Try to get some exercise daily. It’s essential not only to curb the symptoms of depression, but it’s also critical to your health. It can be challenging to get up and start moving, so it’s best to start small and do something light, such as a 10-minute yoga. This physical activity can help you burn off nervous energy and prompt you to sleep.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a 45-minute gym session. All it takes is a few minutes of your time for sweating out to release endorphins.
2. Eat Healthy Foods
Depression might urge poor eating choices and habits, which may cause digestive and weight gain problems. Sugary, salty and fatty selections might bring temporary comfort, but these can cause blood sugar spikes.
Eating fruits and vegetables can help boost your energy throughout the day. Even better, they supply your body with essential nutrients to keep your body at its best.
3. List People to Call Upon for Help
Depression can weigh you down, leaving you feeling alone and helpless. However, it’s not something you should embrace alone. Look around and see the people around you — those who love and care about you no matter your situation.
Ask your loved ones to check in on you regularly. Make a list of those you trust the most — let them know immediately when you need support or a shoulder to cry on. Remember, there’s no shame in asking for help. Sometimes, it’s the most heroic thing you can do to yourself.
4. Create a Routine
When you’re depressed, you may struggle to get up for work, dinner and even shower. Some people stay inside their rooms all day, hoping that negative thoughts and feelings will disappear. Such routine can be detrimental when not intervened.
Making small changes in your routine doesn’t need to be elaborate. For instance, instead of eating junk food, commit to eating a small healthy snack. Getting up and dressing up for a morning jog rather than lounging in pajamas all day is small but could significantly change your daily routine.
5. Consult a Professional
Sometimes, negative thoughts can loom large in your mind, making everything too overwhelming. When this happens, call a professional. They can discuss your feelings and suggest interventions, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) or medication.
Even if you think you’re feeling better, let a mental health professional know if you notice changes in your feelings and routines.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
The negative impacts of severe depression are overwhelming that it can aptly be described as “crippling.” None of the steps above will be easy to do if you have crippling depression. However, when you take little steps, it can create a significant impact on your mental and physical health.