(A Woman’s Guide To Reclaiming Wholeness After Sexual Abuse)
Blog and Podcast Show notes
By Simone N
For a more in depth discussion, check out the podcast episode for this blog, to listen.
This topic here is the big one.
Depression, whether the disorder, or illness, or state of being, is one of that many people have experienced, or experiencing in their lives today, on some level. Depression can obstruct your everyday living and functioning; interfering with every aspect of your life (relationships, family, work/carer, health/wellness, spirituality, accomplishing/pursuing dreams and goals, overall conduct of life). Depending upon the severity of depression, it can determine the effects of the different aspects of life.
The kind(s) of depression that is being discussed here ranges between dysthymia (which is low grade, mild) to major/clinical depression (chronic, severe). These two grades, or forms of depression, can be of a disorder called Persistent Depressive Disorder. This disorder is one that lasts for over 2 years, it is consistent, and persistent. The funny thing is, with major or clinical depression not characterized in this disorder, is something that in effect most of the time, and can be on and off, in it’s nature.
Depression relates well to the other topic spoken; such a emotional fatigue/exhaustion and slumps (how it can be the prerequisite, or cause depression) upheavals (feelings of despair and hopelessness), and PTSD (which can cause it from a traumatic event).
In this article/episode, what will touched upon is the severity of depression; it’s seriousness, the various issues and consequences to the mind, body and soul, and the direct link it has to sexual abuse. I will also speak what i believe to be really what causes depression, and of course the treatments and solutions we can find for this.
Let’s discuss some of the symptoms or depression. These are just the general symptoms, as there are many variances depending upon which kind is occurring. (ranging from dysthymia to clinical)
- Fatigue. This is a main sign that signals to depression, but not always. Physical fatigue (can be emotional too, this where the emotional fatigue can come in). It is a persistent issue. The mind and physical body are connected to each other, so it is affected.
- Feelings of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness. Also feelings of guilt, shame, worthlessness; thinking about past failures, mistakes, constantly beating yourself up. As it would have it, This is the main reason, or cause, why sexual abuse results in depression (feelings of guilt shame, and worthlessness). Inability to control emotions; becoming angry/upset, easily irritated, frustrated.
- Difficulty concentrating; fogginess, indecisiveness. Small tasks may be hard to do, small decisions can be overwhelming, and hard to make.
- Insomnia, or oversleeping. Insomnia can be caused, or provoked by restlessness, or agitation (of body and mind). Excessive sleeping, can from the slowing down of functioning of thoughts, movements (slurring of speech) , reactions etc. Atypical depression, is characterized by excessive sleeping.
- Lack in interest and pleasure in things that you once had an interest in or once enjoyed; socialization, relationships, passions/hobbies (singing, dancing, favorite t.v show), food, nature, trips/vacation, etc. Clinical or major depression is characterized by this symptom, mainly.
- Neglect and Overindulgence. Neglecting personal hygiene/grooming/self care, eating, sleep, relationships, responsibilities, is indicative of depression. I would say that a more chronic kind is what would result in this. On the other end of the spectrum, Overindulgence in food, (overeating), sleeping; alcohol, and drugs, excessive participation of activities such as social media, texting, shopping/spending money, etc, are warning signs of depression that a generally unknown.
- Significant weight loss, or weight gain, resulting from underrating, or overeating.
- Physical issues; chronic pain; back, neck and body pains, headaches/migraines. Mental illness and pain share the same pathways and neurotransmitters in our brain; it is what causes you to feel more pain acutely.
And it is not necessarily that there is more pain, but there is a greater sensitivity to it, more discomfort, and less ability to cope with it.
Women are twice as likely to suffer fom clinical depression (from what I read) for the reasons of hormonal changes and flux during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy (post-partum depression), miscarriages, and then later in life menopause.
What causes depression?
There are external reasons for depression (although, everything is experienced within us, but external circumstances can trigger it). Stressful situations, and circumstances; being the sole breadwinner/caregiver of the family; loss of a job/unemployment, financial difficulties, relational issues; divorce, separation, affair, betrayal, a death or loss of a loved one. This, or these distressing circumstances, and it’s result, is known as situational depression.
Other reasons are: Hormonal imbalances and deficiencies ( ex. adrenaline fatigue, hypothyroidism), toxin buildup within the body, and nutritional deficiencies.
Another main reason is trauma, early childhood trauma.
The real reason that I believe causes depression is what is going on in the internal state. Everything starts internally with a thought, so therefore it isn’t the external circumstances necessarily that causes it it’s what going on the inside. It is the thoughts, and the feeling that happen as a result that make this depression. We go through a gamut of thoughts and feelings that are experienced regularly, and sometimes are overwhelming to us. The natural human tendency is to have it go away so we stuff it down, ignore, and deny it. It works to have have us feel better for a time, but it is still there. With that said, when there is too many negative emotions, thoughts, and beliefs that are compacted , suppressed, and “depressed”, it will cause a havoc within. In other words when one does not face, deal, or work through issues at hand, within themselves , or feel they are unable to, the mental and emotional self stays in flux. Feeling alone and overwhelmed (with the thoughts,emotions, pressures) in this isolated storm, can increase the feelings of hopelessness, and despair. Feeling unloved, and unsupported (whether or not it is true) can further intensify the feelings.
What can we do about depression, how can we begin to heal?
Thinking back to what was said about the possible causes of depression, find the source of what may be causing it.
Do you have a childhood trauma that hasn’t been dealt with on some level? Where you sexually abused? Did you expose or come out with this trauma? To anyone else? Have taken therapy? Have you dealt with guilt or shame? Is the abuser still in your life? Have you confronted them? Did you take your power back?If you answered no to the majority of these questions, then this may be the main culprit to this issue of depression.
If you have dealt with, faced, and started your healing work pertaining to this, and yet you are still suffering from depression, perhaps you need to do more digging to uncover what may be the cause.
What about your present circumstances? How is your living situation, and is there part if your life is not working?
Also consider the possibility of an issue of your physical health. You may want to check the chemical and hormonal balances within your body, as well as any abnormalities within the brain that can be the cause.
- With that said, see a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, and neurologist to make an assessment about the psychological, mental, emotional , and physical level of your health, and see what is said. If you are prescribed some kind of treatment, or drugs, it is up to you to try, and/or to consider that there are are alternative routes you can go.
- Exercise. So important. Exercise helps to boost the natural chemicals produced by the brain (such as serotonin, endorphins) that are responsible for feeling good. It works just as well as anti-depressants (perhaps even better), to promote more well-being, and happiness, a more calm and peaceful state of mind; helps with sleep, and restfulness (for insomnia); helps to improve cognitive process, and memory , and reduces stress. Yoga, is a good kind of exercise and practice that has been proven to relieve stress , and combat depression.
Eat healthy foods. You are what you eat. Foods have a great bearing on your emotional and mental health. Stay away from preserved foods, chemicals, high sodium/sugar, and fat-laden foods, that can cause more fatigue, irritability, and can worsen your symptoms of depression.
- Eat foods rich in omega-3s. Fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon, and sardines are good sources. Flax, and chia seeds, walnuts,almonds, and cashews are other good sources.
- Foods with antioxidants (which prevent cell damage and encourage cell growth) help to heal depression: cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, and dark chocolate are good choices. Green tea in a good beverage for this as well.
- Foods with beta carotene. These are the foods that are mainly orange; carrots, cantaloupe, apricots, sweet potato, pumpkin, peaches, and broccoli.
- Vitamins E, and C. Blueberries, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, tomatoes. Nuts, and seeds, vegetable oils.
- Foods rich in protein(boosts awareness and alertness): lean meats, beans, peas, and nuts.
- Don’t forget about natural supplements to help with depression symptoms, stress, agitation, sleep disturbances. Jasmine, chamomile tea, lavender oil, St John’s Wort (helps fight depression and anxiety).
Some more important things to think about:
- Get adequate sleep. Sleep heals (see episode #11 for more on sleep).
- Get more sunlight. This provides vitamin D which helps boost mood, happiness and wellness
- Rid yourself of negative and toxic relationships, as this can be the cause, or worsen your existing condition. Build, and invest in people and relationships that are more positive and loving. You reflect who you hang around, so let it be something you want to be and exude.
In the next article/episode, I will be getting into the behaviors we participate in (sometimes unbeknownst to us that it comes from depression) of self neglect. The different ways we exhibit this, and what can be done to bring ourselves back on track.
Check out the next article: Dealing With: Depression and Self- Neglect