Although depression is a commonly used term, it is also misunderstood as just being sad, distressed, or feeling alone. Depression is far more than simple sadness. You may feel sad or have a low mood now and then, but depression is severe and persistent. Depression treatment is essential because it can cause clinically significant distress and impairment in your daily life activities which is one of the clinical signs of depression. Don’t hesitate to seek help for depression if you are suffering from it.
Dealing with depression may seem quite difficult, but fortunately, it is possible to overcome depression. To cope with depression, you must first know that you are suffering from it. To help you identify its presence, the signs of depression are given below:
Signs of Depression:
- Depressed mood nearly most of the day or every day
- Loss of interest or lack of pleasure in activities
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Slowed down or restlessness/fatigue
- Significant weight gain or weight loss
- Lack of concentration, indecisiveness
- Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness, inappropriate guilt
- Suicidal ideation or attempts
You are suffering from depression if you have been experiencing some of the symptoms given above for approximately 2 weeks and the symptoms are affecting your daily functioning. Moreover, the symptoms should not be the result of any medication or medical condition, however, chronic disease and difficulties or challenges associated with it can result in depression.
Similarly, if you have recently lost your loved one and you are feeling down and not liking to participate in activities or you are not enjoying anything lately, this is the common result of grief.
The difference between grief and depression is that sadness, feelings of emptiness, and loss predominant in grief decrease in intensity with time and are associated with the reminders and thoughts of the deceased. Depression, on the other hand, is not associated with specific preoccupations or thoughts and is more persistent.
Now you may understand what is depression and how you can recognize that you are suffering from it, the next step is then to find out ways to cope with depression.
How to Overcome Depression?
As depression is persistent, it is not going to vanish on its own, that is why you need to take the necessary steps to manage it and reduce it gradually. Some of the strategies to overcome depression include:
Challenge Negative Thinking:
Depression is highly associated with negative thinking. If you are depressed, you tend to focus on the negative aspects of situations, resulting in feeling hopeless and helpless. There are many errors in thinking that can affect your normal thinking patterns and how you feel and behave afterward.
To cope with depression, you should identify your negative thinking patterns and try to challenge them. For instance, your friend passed by and didn’t say hello. You started thinking that you might have done something wrong to offend her, making you feel sad and worthless, and you might try not to face her again.
On the other hand, if you think differently that your friend might be busy and he/she might not have seen you. This thought will result in neutral feelings along with behaving normally afterward. Therefore, instead of jumping to a conclusion, or perceiving everything negatively, you should challenge your thoughts and try to convert them into rational ones.
Write everything down, whether positive or negative. Depressed people usually don’t remember positive events in their life. Hence, journaling allows you to write all the positive and negative events, and later on, you can go through it realizing that positive events do occur that bring you happiness.
Gratitude and Acceptance:
Practicing gratitude or being grateful for different things in your life brings your attention to the positive aspects of your life. This makes you feel positive emotions, and cherish positive life experiences, giving you a sense of hope and motivation as well.
Create a Routine:
Although depression makes it difficult for you to engage in normal day to activities due to fatigue and loss of interest, creating a routine gives you a structure and a plan to do things. Don’t try to do it all at once but create small goals and take small steps towards completing the task. Once you get up in the morning, the mere making of your bed brings positivity and a sense of accomplishment, offering you the energy to move ahead.
Behavior activation is one of the most effective strategies to overcome depression. Start doing things that you love. You may not feel the urge or motivation to do it, but creating a record and doing your favorite activities just for a few minutes at the start results in feelings of mastery and pleasure. And with time, you start enjoying those activities more.
For instance, if you love drawing, start it by doing 5 minutes a day. Whether you drew anything at the start or not, keep on giving five minutes daily to your drawing activity. Gradually you will be motivated and start taking interest in the activity, leading you to engage in many other activities as well.
The rationale behind behavior activation is to break the vicious cycle of negative patterns, feelings, and avoidance behavior which result in a self-fulfilling prophecy, reinforcing your thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Sleep properly and eat healthily:
An appropriate amount of sleep is vital for your overall health which includes your mental health as well. Everyone knows the quote, “Early to bed, and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”, but seldom do you try to follow it. However, having sound sleep is important if you want to cope with depression. If you find it difficult to sleep, try things such as reducing caffeine consumption, turning off your gadgets half an hour before bed, trying relaxation techniques, etc.
Another essential thing to consider while coping with depression is your diet. What you put in your body matters a lot. Try to eat healthy food which contains all the nutrients. It is recommended to consume fresh and whole foods. Also avoid refined food, carbonated drinks, high sugar intake, fried food, etc.
Avoid Alcohol, Smoking, and Substance abuse:
Stay away from alcohol, smoking, and substance abuse as a means to deal with depression, because it will result in inappropriate short-term means of dealing with depression which later on lessens your ability leaving you with no resilience and skills to deal with different situations.
Spend Time In Nature:
Nature is a good healer. It calms your body, relaxes your mind provides you with healthy things such as fresh air, the smell of flowers, sunlight, etc. There is a strong connection between your overall well-being and nature. Therefore, try to spend time outside, sit or walk on the grass, enjoy flowers or you can just relax.
Also, don’t forget to take your daily intake of Vitamin D through sunlight. Vitamin D is vital for your health and its deficiency can also result in stress, anxiety, fatigue, etc.
Mindfulness is an evidence-based depression treatment. It helps you overcome depression by enabling you to be in the present moment rather than dwelling in the past. Mindfulness reduces rumination by bringing your attention back to your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. When you become aware of your present moments, you get time to pause and consider instead of reacting automatically to your thoughts and feelings.
Practicing mindfulness daily is an effective way to cope with depression. You don’t have to do much, just start by practicing it for 5 minutes a day. Sit down, relax, and focus on your breathing as you inhale and exhale. Thoughts will come and go, notice them, and let them pass by bringing your focus back to your breath.
Similarly, you can focus on your bodily sensations. There are many mindfulness exercises. You can also start by just being mindful of whatever you do in a day. For instance, while eating, notice the taste, texture, and smell of your food and so on. Mindfulness also works best with psychotherapies., or you can join mindfulness programs as well.
Connecting with people is also a healthy way to cope with depression. If you want help with depression, go to a friend’s house, or have a get-together with your family. Social connection offers you opportunities to vent out pent-up emotions along with providing different strategies on how people deal with such emotions. Moreover, you get time to go out, and talk with someone, keeping aside your rumination, negative thoughts, and emotions associated with them. Joining different social groups also help you cope with depression.
Depression is a serious mental health condition but fortunately, it is treatable. Identify the reasons behind depression and take baby steps towards dealing with it. Moving slowly but steadily helps you a lot in coping with depression. Also, there are many causes of depression, therefore, it is important to rule out the cause as well. Contact a professional and seek help for depression. The sooner you get it treated, the better, because you may not want it to become severe enough to impair your day-to-day functioning and affect your life.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.