Start feeling better today
If you're like millions of people over the last year during the COVID19 Pandemic, you have experienced signs of functional depression. You may have noticed an overall attitude of negativity, or maybe you want to not be as involved in activities as much as you used to.
In episode 90: Signs of Functional Depression, I talk about what the signs to look for, and what you can do to start feeling better today.
Thanks for listening to the Mental Health Today Show.
John Cordray, Board Certified Counselor
Have you noticed a decrease in your attitude, maybe you're more negative, maybe you're feeling a little bit more numb to the world since the pandemic started over a year ago? And you just noticed that something is not quite right with how you're feeling. That's what we're going to talk about in episode 90: Signs of Functional Depression.
And welcome back to the mental health show today. My name is John Cordray, I am a board-certified counselor. And I am so glad that you're here with me today. And it's been an amazing time as I'm actually getting back into my podcasts. I know some of you have listened for a long time, and that you've noticed I had a break. And so sometimes we need a break. I know, for me, over the past several years, a lot of change, including my daughter getting married and my son recently moving out, and my wife and I are now empty-nesters, had job change move across the country. And more James is on the way. And so you know what that's like. And all these changes, kind of just disrupted my life a little bit, especially my head in my new job, and took a lot of time in the counseling world working with kids in the school. But now I'm back.
And I'm really excited. And I appreciate you, the longtime listeners, I really appreciate you who are just tuning in. If you are new to the show, I would love for you to subscribe, whatever podcast station that you listen to please subscribe to, and I want you to be a part of this community. And so, you know, life is just mentioned in my life. But life is funny sometimes when you think things are going to go a certain way, a way that you want them to go. And then something happens, it could be good, something really good happens in your life or something really bad happens in your life. And I talked a little bit. I alluded to it earlier, in this episode, the beginning COVID hit. And that's something that all of us have been affected by whether indirectly or directly, indirectly, meaning maybe you didn't catch COVID maybe you've had friends or maybe even a family member who's who tested positive. And that really made things difficult for you emotionally.
Or directly, maybe you actually were diagnosed with COVID. Or maybe you had a family member or a loved one that passed away. Because of COVID. Maybe you lost your job or had to stay at home. I know 1000s of kids had to stay home from school. And then that means at least one parent has to stay home from work and work from home and try to get their child to pay attention on the computer. It's hard enough for the kids to pay attention in class.
But it's really hard for them to pay attention to the computer. And it's hard for the teachers and some of you are teachers. And on the flip side, you're trying to get all the lesson plans and get the kid's attention and try to teach. Some teachers are doing it in person and on the computer virtually at the same time. And that's been difficult. Some of you have actually lost your job because of or at least in part of COVID because of COVID. And so whether it's a good change like I mentioned earlier, my daughter got married and she actually got married the day before we got the lockdown.
So it was Saturday night. We were a little nervous. My wife and I were getting ready for the reception at the wedding. And we knew that the COVID was the thing and we knew that other states were starting to close down and the numbers drastically reduced from like 250 on which was on Saturday of the wedding and the governor said okay if you want to meet you can only meet no groups bigger than 250.
Thankfully, we had less than that for the reception. But then the very next day, the very next day, it was down to 50 and then it was down to 25 After that. So this was a very exciting time and a very happy time. But then all of a sudden COVID hits. And my daughter and son-in-law actually went to Puerto Rico for their end-of-verse anniversary, it's not there yet for their reception, and they get stranded there for a while, and it was really tense to get them back.
And that was something that was a lot of fun, but then was also very stressful. And it really caused a lot of stress for a lot of people, including myself. And whether we are directly affected by COVID or not, we have had major changes in our lives. And I want to talk about the signs of functional depression, we hear a lot about Major Depressive Disorder, you know, that's, that's a classified diagnosable depression, where a therapist, a licensed therapist, or a doctor or psychiatrist will determine that you have a Major Depressive Disorder, and you're very depressed for long periods of time, and maybe you're on antidepressants. But that's not really what I'm talking about here.
Here's what I'm talking about: functional depression is something that maybe is not diagnosable. And maybe it's not bad enough for you to go in to see a doctor or, or a licensed therapist. But as functional depression, where you get up every day, and things are Oh, yeah, okay, kind of mid and that mid-level. And maybe you don't realize it, or maybe you don't, you don't think about why you're feeling that way. But you just know, you don't feel very good. And it doesn't necessarily keep you from going to work.
It doesn't necessarily keep you from going to school or doing the job responsibilities. But there's something there. Something is kind of this black cloud over you. You lose your motivation from doing things, you lose excitement, you, you have a lack of motivation. I've experienced this I'm sure you have. And the things that you used to really enjoy. You can kind of take it or leave it. In a functional depression, it's just enough, there's enough of us able to be functional, to do your things. But it's not. It just feels now you're not really happy, but you're not super depressed, or just right in the middle. And I would imagine that most people who are listening to this most person in the world who have gone through this COVID, a pandemic has had some form of functional depression or anxiety at some point during this last year. And that's okay. Because it's understandable, these situations in life, cannot throw us for a loop. It doesn't have to be COVID, it could be something smaller than that.
It does anything that really throws you for a loop, something that you did not expect that happens to you. It can cause functional depression. But the good thing is, if you think that you have some functional depression, it doesn't have to stay that way. It could, it could stay. If you don't treat it yourself, if you don't work on it, it could go deeper into more of the major depressive disorder. If you don't do anything about it, it could get worse. But that's not what we want to do here. We want you to work. I want to want you to work on what you can do with your functional depression.
Because life is not over. hope is not lost. Even if you had the worst things happen to you in the last year. Life is not over. Life will be harder and much more difficult. And the struggle will continue as you each day that you get up and work on it and you become stronger. But having functional depression is not a terrible thing. So I don't want you to think Oh yeah, I think I do have some functional depression.
And that means I'm heading towards a very dark time in my life. No, that doesn't mean that. It just means that you can't identify that there is something going on, you're not always happy, you're not very, you're not yourself. And you have this general kind of gloom, and this dark cloud over you all the time.
And so some of the signs of functional depression is, I've mentioned this before you lack interest in many things, especially things that you used to really enjoy, you can care less about them. And maybe you were forced to stop doing them because of COVID. And you just grew accustomed to it, and it was hard to adjust to COVID. And, and now, as things seem to be getting better, and we're able to do more things. It's getting adjusted, go to go back to normal or warrant, well, I don't know, whatever can be normal.
But back to what you used to do. Getting back to life can be, especially since we've been so close over the past year, getting back to life can be depressing. Because maybe, you got into the habit of doing things that you were wanting to do, maybe you were exercising, and you had to stop, or you had a hobby that you really loved.
But because of COVID, he had to stop it. And over time, you just kind of get used to it. And he just and he's lost interest. Another sign is, if you're feeling depressed, the last thing you want to do is eat healthy food. You don't want to go home after a long day of work and feeling down. And when you're feeling kind of depressed, you're not going to spend a lot of time making healthy food, you're going to do what's easy, the path of least resistance. And that stopping at a fast-food restaurant and getting food on the way home.
And so another sign of functional depression is that you're increasingly eating junk food because it's easy. Now, it doesn't mean just because you eat junk food that you're having functional depression. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about. You used to eat healthily, but now you don't really care. He just wants something quick and simple.
And usually, the quick and simple foods are going to be junk food that's not good for you. Bro, perhaps you are drinking more alcohol than you used to. Because that helps numb how you're feeling. You think it helps you feel better, but alcohol is actually a depressant, it can make you feel worse. Maybe you were a social person, and COVID forced you to stay home. And that lack of being around your friends. And the increase of isolation has caused you to think that you're a different person now. Things you used to care about people used to care about, you have a lack of caring. Not that you're a terrible person. Not that you don't care about other people. It's just like, what's the use? Right?
Is that mindset, the mindset of all these things, all these things are bad happening to me. So why do I even try? Why should I try to keep up a positive attitude because there are too many things in my life that are negative, I can't do it anymore. And you give in to the negativity and you give in to just being a critic and complaining all the time. Whereas perhaps you were a very positive person before but now you're not.
And as affecting the way that you view your relationships affects your view of your work of other people, you become more of an angry person. Because functional depression will cause you to look at the negative side of things. That's kind of not that think of your right even the positive things that were going on in your life when he when you think of Winnie the Pooh and he or she always found something to complain about. Maybe you stopped doing things that you want to do. That's another sign of functional depression. I mentioned exercising, but it could be going for a walk, it could be going to the gym or doing things that just you stopped in your life that really made a difference.
Before whatever life event, you know, I've been talking about COVID, till before COVID. But it could be a negative life event, whatever that big thing in your life that happened or, or a lot of little things in your life, the bad things that happened. And he just stopped doing things that you normally did. You keep yourself away from people, and maybe you go to work or go to school and you go home. And that is it. You don't really talk to anybody on the phone, you don't really eat, maybe even lost interest in social media. Because we're so that's almost all we were able to do during the pandemic, and now you're just sick of it.
Or maybe speaking of social media, it doesn't take long for you to see a lot of negativity in your, in your social media feed, Facebook, Twitter, whatever social media that you looked at, you're gonna see a lot of negative people a lot of negative comments, and it's very divisive. And I would say those people are probably whether admitted or not, are probably experiencing functional depression. And so you look at the news, or you went on online, and you read news reports, and they're negative and, and you go to social media, that's all negative, and it just gets to you. And sometimes it's just too much.
And maybe you participated in that. Maybe you participated in being negative on social media, and you express your anger, or just being more critical of others. It's easy to be critical of others when we are experiencing negative things in our lives. It's not, as not something that we naturally do when we're when we have functional depression. We're not the default is to complain, and to look at others to judge others to be negative towards others.
That's the default. And the more we do that, the more we give in to that negative default, the more it influences us. And then when we experience functional depression, and we have negativity, we talk, we have a negative outlook on life, we're always complaining, we're always blaming someone else, judging other people, eventually, people are not going to want to hang out around us.
They're going to keep their distance because they don't want to be around him or when you lose your motivation, you typically lose a positive outlook on life. And when you lose the positive outlook on life, then you are looking through a very dark lens every day. And eventually, it wears on you. And eventually, it's like, Why? Why do I have it? Why should I go to work? Why should I go to school? Why should I do this? Why should I do that? Any start to question everything in your life. It's kind of meaningless.
It's like, if you are if you're a Christian, there's a book of the Bible called Ecclesiastes. And a lot of that is very, like, life is meaningless. Why do we keep going on? It's a very human emotion, the book of the Bible. And I'm sure if you've read it, or if you go and look at it in the Bible, you'll resonate with a lot of what was said, because the author is talking about really expressing how he feels. And I think we can relate to that. That's everything. It doesn't make sense.
I used to be happy. I used to enjoy doing things and now I don't and if that's you or maybe it's someone that you know, maybe it's a friend, maybe As a family member, maybe as a co-worker. And you're wondering, okay, how long will this go on? How long will I continue to live this way? And to feel this way, I don't want to be depressed any longer. Yes, I can go to work, I can do things. If I have to. I can fake it till I make it. But it doesn't seem to help. What do I do? It's not going to go away. And so for most of you. So there are things The good news is, there are things that you can do, you can start to do that will actually increase the serotonin in your brain.
And then that serotonin, the natural chemicals of your brain, if you are able to engage that and activate that in a healthy way, you're gonna start to feel better. And so I want to talk about some things that you can do, maybe some things you used to do, and encourage you to get back to doing them. Because this is not a doom and gloom episode, I just wanted to take some time to explain and talk about functional depression, what that is, what it feels like, what are some things to look for, but I really want to encourage you.
And to let you know that this does not have to continue. You can work on getting better, you could actually work on this and even feel better than he did before COVID. I think that's possible. So what are some things that you can do to work on your functional depression? Number one, to get more sleep, you need quality sleep. And I don't know how old you are, depending on your age, the younger you typically are the younger you are, the more sleep you need. If you're an adult, a full adult, like maybe 30s 40s 50s, and older, you really should optimum time is eight hours, seven to eight hours. The younger than that you need a lot more, especially if you are younger than 25 because your brain is still developing.
And you need sleep. And so many kids do not get enough sleep. I work in a school. I know this for a fact a lot of the kids that I meet with, do not get enough sleep and it's not quality sleep. You need better sleep. And if you have a hard time falling asleep, you need to work on things. Maybe put the phone down and turn off the TV about 30 minutes before bed and work on calming your mind and your heart. Maybe by just closing your eyes or maybe by doing breathing exercises, maybe just anything that you can do. Be mindful of getting ready for bed. The other one is kind of a no-brainer, but it's drinking more water.
Yes, if you are not drinking enough water that can affect your mood. And you need to drink more water. You need to stay hydrated. Take a water bottle with you and take more visits to the drinking fountain. Whatever you need to do to increase your water consumption. The other one is to eat healthy foods. I mentioned this earlier. A lot of times it's a natural thing to do is to eat more junk food when you have more functional depression. But you need to start eating healthier foods. It is again, it is a natural thing when you eat healthy foods, fruits and vegetables, moderation and your meat or any or none at all. And it will actually help improve your brain.
And again your brain and your gut are connected. You need to take care of yourself, your physical body and you drink more water and sleep more. Eat healthy foods. And exercise is another one. Even just going for a walk. I need to do this better. I mean, do you better go for a walk for 30 to 40 minutes every day. Doesn't have to be this going to the gym and working out with weights or running all the time. It doesn't have to be that but just get exercise.
Exercise. Eat healthily, drink enough water, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep, and then socialize, being social, even if it's just calling someone on their phone or get on your phone and do a video chat with them. Don't isolate yourself, don't avoid other people, even if you don't feel like it. Now I realize these things that I just listed for you sleep better, drink more water, eat healthier, exercise more, socialize more, I know I get it, if you have functional depression, you're not going to want to do those things, I get it. But you need to, there's got to be a time in your life that you say to yourself, enough is enough.
And I'm going to work on me, whatever I feel like it or not, you need to set goals, you need to set times that you're going to reach you're going to set targets, you need to do it, no one's going to help you No one's going to do it for you, you have to do it for yourself. If you want to start feeling better, you need to start working on yourself right now. Starting today, what is it going to be? Are you going to try to get more sleep, are you going to try to drink more water, are you going to try to eat healthier foods, are you going to start exercising, or are you going to be more social? I'm not saying you have to start all of those all at once all the time. But at least pick one of those and gradually increase those into your lifestyle.
Because you got to have a plan, you got to have a target, you got to have a goal to work on these things. So work on yourself. And I'm telling you these work, your physical body is in direct correlation to your emotional world, into your brain. They are connected. Obviously, there are more things that you can do, I don't have time to go into them. But you kind of get the point. If you're not going to change, you're not going to change. If you're not willing to put in the change, you're not going to change, you're going to continue this way or get worse. And I am here to get to encourage you to motivate you, you need to work on yourself right now. What's it going to take? Now, if you're thinking to yourself, I am way too depressed, to do any of these, then you probably have more severe depression than just functional depression.
Then if you are more depressed, if you were to say I can't do those, I'm way, way more depressed. And I'm kind of not even there yet. Then if that's you, then I want your goal then is to talk, find and talk to a therapist. Seek out a therapist, whether they're on it's an online therapist or in-person therapist, you talk with them and let them know you let them help guide you. You need to be able to get more treatment, then, than what I'm saying here. You may need to talk to the psychiatrist, maybe you need to get on antidepressants, I don't know. But if it's more severe, you're going to have to take some other steps. You need someone to walk alongside you. Like if they're a trained professional therapist. But if you're sitting there and you are thinking to yourself, yeah, I do think I have functional depression. And I just hope it goes away. You can't wish this away.
You can't have this like anything good in life, you have to work at it. And if you care about the people in your life, who are concerned about you, who may have said something about, Hey, I think you're you seem to be down today. Those people who are in your life who care about you, if you start working on yourself, then you're gonna say to them, I care about you. They can't make you do anything that they are, I'm sure they wish they could. But it has to be you. And that's my encouragement for you to work on yourself. Listen to this again multiple times if you need to. You need this encouragement. Thank you for listening as far as I'm gonna let you go. But I really appreciate you tuning in. I hope this has resonated with you.
If this has resonated with you, and you said yes, this is me. Reach out to me. Whether it's through Twitter, or you can go to Facebook, and just type in the mental health today's show. Anyway, you just reach out to me, let me know You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And let me know. I want you to do more. While I've said this before more interviews, and hopefully I think I have a few coming up, lined up, I think you're gonna be really interested in if you have not subscribed to my show, please do so.
And I can't wait to come back next time. I hope this has been encouraging to you. And I appreciate you. I can't say that enough. I can't do this show without you. Otherwise, I'm just talking to myself. But there are 1000s of you and I'm really, really happy about that. All right, well, I'm gonna let you go. Thank you so much for listening to the mental health show today. My name is John Cordray. I'm a board-certified counselor. And until next time, take care of yourself and God bless.