Michelle Obama Opened Up About Her Expertise With Low-Grade Despair
Adapting to a new routine as a result of the pandemic was particularly challenging for Obama, she said during the podcast episode. Her sleep schedule was “off” and she often wakes up in the middle of the night feeling “heavy” or “worried about something,” she explained.
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“I’ve been through those emotional ups and downs that I think everyone feels, where you just don’t feel [like] himself, “said Obama. “Sometimes there was a week or so that I had to surrender to it [feeling]and don’t be so hard on myself and say, “You know what? You are not feeling the treadmill right now. ‘”
Norris then aptly pointed out that this lack of motivation was “unusual” for Obama – someone who has a real zest for life and is known to be extremely passionate about fitness. “It’s unusual and a direct result of being just out of mind and body,” Obama said. “I’m facing some form of depression – not just because of the quarantine, but also because of the racial conflict. Just seeing this government and watching the hypocrisy day after day is disheartening.”
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What is Low Level Depression?
Losing interest in things you used to enjoy (exercise, etc.) is “one of the core symptoms of depression,” inferior or otherwise, says Myra Altman, Ph.D., vice president of clinical care at Modern Health.
“Depression is characterized by a variety of symptoms, including feeling depressed and / or a lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities,” says Altman. Other symptoms of depression can include significant changes in appetite or weight, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts or plans for suicide, she says.
But what makes low-level depression different from other forms of depression, such as: B. Major Depression?
“Low-grade depression differs from major depression in that symptoms are usually less severe,” said Catherine Richardson, MA, LPC, CCPT, a therapist at Talkspace. “An individual [with low-grade depression] is generally able to continue its normal daily tasks without major disruption to functionality. “On the other hand, someone with major depressive disorder would likely experience a noticeable change in their ability to perform well at work, develop relationships, and do regular, everyday activities,” says Richardson.
“A person with major depressive disorder can become completely detached from their social life during a depressive episode,” she adds. “A person with low levels of depression will continue to engage with others, but at a lower rate than before and with less joy.”
Another important difference between low-level depression and depression is how you experience (or not experience) emotions. “People with low-level depression can be irritated by triggers that are usually neutral or saddened by a rude comment that they can usually shake off,” explains Richardson. While someone with major depressive disorder occasionally experiences similar bouts of irritability and sadness, they usually experience a greater “lack of emotion,” notes Richardson.
As Obama shared her own experience, low-severity depression can be caused by factors around you, including world events like the COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality and racism in the United States, Richardson says. However, low-grade depression can also occur due to individual genetic differences or chemical imbalances that contribute to occasional cycles of mild depression, adds Richardson.
From Obama’s point of view, navigating the lows requires “knowing yourself” and “knowing how to replenish yourself with the things you enjoy,” she said on her podcast. A lot of it depends on following a consistent routine and schedule – even if the motivation to do so just isn’t there, she said. For her, it means getting a workout when she doesn’t really want to, or trying to go outside more often or just stick to regular meal times with her family, she explained.
“My spirit is lifted when I feel healthy [and] when I’m surrounded by good people, ”Obama continued. “I reach my family and my friends. I struggle to keep finding a way to connect with the people in my life who I enjoy. “
While treating low-severity depression can come with things like medication or therapy, lifestyle changes like Obama can go a long way in promoting your mental health, Altman notes. “A structured routine can be very helpful. [along with] Make sure you find time to exercise and do activities that will improve your mood, ”she explains.
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“Gaining time for friendships, exercise, and sleep can make a huge difference to your mental health,” adds Richardson.
If you can relate to Obama’s experience of low-severity depression, you know it’s not something to wipe off, Altman notes. “While people can minimize mild depression, it’s really important to be as proactive as you can to get support and make changes,” she says.
Whether that means considering therapy, medication, or just changing the way you go about your day-to-day life, give yourself what you need to feel better about yourself and move forward, adds Richardson. “Wherever you choose to start, the best first step is to listen to your body, give it what it needs, and invite someone else to join the conversation.”
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