Skincare, a seemingly simple routine, holds profound potential in uplifting mental well-being amidst the struggles of depression.
When my best friend reached out for me to come over, it was one of those days–where every moment is spent in bed, hardly eating, drinking, or even tending to oneself. Her hair was a tangled mess, knots of curls gathered at the back of her head. She wore clothes from the day before and admitted she hadn’t showered in three days. Her mental illness wasn’t unfamiliar to me; I’ve witnessed her cycles of highs and lows. We’d enjoy a week out, hanging around in the city, only for the following week to find me at her place, offering support through her depressive phases.
Many people live through these struggles. In the Philippines alone, over 3.6 million Filipinos grapple with mental, neurological, or substance use disorders, as per the WHO Special Initiative for Mental Health conducted in early 2020. Depressive disorders, including various forms such as major depressive disorder and persistent depressive disorder, often manifest with feelings of sadness, emptiness, or irritability, impacting one’s functionality, as outlined in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Mind You’s registered and licensed psychologist Ivana Maron shares with Vogue Philippines the impact of depression on a person’s life. “Depression is one of the cases or one of the psychological disorders that affects your daily living. When we talk about depression, it has something to do with disruption of our thoughts, emotions, and behavior,” she says.
“It doesn’t happen overnight. On the biological aspect, there is a hormone imbalance in our bodies. The neurotransmitters that we expect to be normal–let’s say, for instance, serotonin and dopamine–should be balanced. But for people living with depression, there’s an imbalance,” Maron explains. “Psychologically, there are a lot of causes for depression. For example, personal problems or impactful life events tend to pile up, leading to that feeling of hopelessness.”
These hormonal imbalances significantly impact mood and the ability to manage daily tasks. “Things like getting up in the morning, bathing, taking care of our bodies, brushing our teeth, and eating can feel more difficult due to the depressive symptoms they experience,” she says.
Engaging in a skincare routine during depressive episodes, though mentally taxing, can enhance well-being. “There is a big relationship and link between skincare and mental health. Skincare is a form of a coping mechanism,” says Maron. “It can help relax our minds after a long day full of stress, even if it only takes a few minutes.” Skincare also triggers the release of “feel-good” hormones. “Pampering ourselves triggers the good chemicals in our brains, boosting our moods. Every time we engage in skincare it gives us happy hormones, such as serotonin or dopamine” she says.
The Importance Of Professional Help
For people who are struggling with severe depression, Maron stresses the role of medication and therapy in helping to establish a consistent skincare regimen. “Because people with depression, it’s difficult to force the idea of being consistent,” she says. “If they’re prescribed with medication, it’ll help with the chemical imbalance that causes depression. This, along with therapy, can help the person slowly get back to a more consistent routine.”
“For those whose cases are not severe, we first have to keep in mind that we can’t expect consistency immediately,” she says. “The technique is to help them gradually get back to their routine. We need to be patient in everything.”
A Positive Outlook Through Dopamine-Boosting Activities
Maron also recommends seeking out other dopamine-boosting activities, such as spending more time in sunlight and physical activities. She also emphasized the importance of having a healthy support system. “Someone who has depression needs to have a good support system to engage them and help them have a positive outlook and attitude,” she says.
Being Patient And Kind To Yourself
Above all, Maron encourages you to be kind to yourself. “The reality is that we’re not always okay in our lives, even if we’re not diagnosed with mental disorders. That’s the point about mental health. We’re not always okay, we’re not always productive, we’re not always energetic, we’re not always beautiful,” she says. “We need to be patient, and eventually we’ll return to our routines.”
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