How to handle depression
Depression can affect us all at some point in our lives, either directly, or through a loved one or work colleague. Some people don’t even realise they have it and shrug it off without concern, while the effects on others can drastically change their lives. The worse thing to do with serious depression, is to ignore it and hope it will go away, because it simply won’t. In this article I have combined research from across the Internet, along with some of my own experiences on how to handle depression. Of course, the first port of call should be a visit to your doctor and ask for whatever channels of assistance there are.
From a personal stance, I’m a happy, go lucky kind of guy, with what I consider a great sense of humour, and nothing really knocks me off my perch unless it’s a serious issue with family or friends. But there was a dark time in my life where I would burst into tears right in the middle of a conversation with a family member, with no explanation of why, I had lost all faith in myself, and become a different person. Fortunately this period didn’t last long, and looking back it seems like the whole thing was a bad dream. Of course I made an appointment to see my doctor, and was prescribed anti-depressants, I’m not too keen on tablets or pills and didn’t take them, I kind of found my own way out, which enforces the point that there is no quick fix and whatever works for some doesn’t work for others.
Some of the symptoms of depression are below:
- Continuous low mood
- Irritable and intolerant of others
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of energy or interest in sex
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Neglecting your hobbies and interest
- An inability to function normally in everyday life
- Lethargy, fatigue, and the feeling that doing things takes a lot of your energy
- Persistent sadness, including fits of crying either uncontrollably or being set off easily, feelings of anxiety or emptiness
- Feeling blue, sad, and generally down over a period of at least two weeks
- Feelings of worthlessness, self-blame and a lack of self esteem
- Sleeping a lot more or less than usual, or experiencing insomnia
- Unusual weight gain or loss, overeating or appetite loss
- Finding thinking or concentrating difficult, “foggy” thinking, inability to make clear decisions or forgetfulness
- Pessimism, or feeling a sense that life is hopeless, pointless and futile This may even lead to a feeling of numbness
- Body pains, cramps, digestive problems, headaches, and other aches that don’t go away with medication or treatment
- Being irritable or restless a great deal of the time
- Suicidal thoughts, thoughts about dying, or attempts at suicide
Seeking help is often considered a sign of weakness, but leaving depression alone in the hope that time will heal it all is the worst possible thing to do, I was pushed by family to make the first step to my local GP, and was in self-denial, in the thinking that this is not a serious affliction, and I have no reason to be depressed, therefore it must be something else (wrong! Sometimes you are the last person to see the change in your personality). The longer you leave getting help, the worse the depression will become and the harder it will be to self-help. Most, if not all types of depression will simply intensify over time.
Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to do what you need to feel better. But while overcoming depression isn’t quick or easy, it’s far from impossible. I’m afraid it’s the old catch 22, where you cannot think normally (unknowingly) and the last thing you will want to do is to listen to reason from others about your state of mind. The trick is to look at yourself from the outside, accepting something not quite right is going on, and treat yourself slowly, but surely, as if you were giving advice, or treating a totally different person than yourself, (this was my strategy).
Ok I will skip all the meditation, positive thinking and spiritual classes stuff, on the basis that depression puts you in the frame of where it is extremely difficult to find the enthusiasm needed for such things, but like I said, it’s whatever works for you, and if you can manage this then that’s great!
Feelings of depression or anxiety are completely natural, feeling down or blue is a natural part of life. The key to depression recovery is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there, but as I said, the first call is to your doctor.
Understand that it is an illness and not a flaw in your character. Learn what you can about depression, read into the subject, knowledge is an important way to reassure yourself that depression is real and can happen to anyone, do not feel ashamed!
Think you’re the only person ever to be depressed? Go to the library and pull out five biographies. It’s highly likely that at least one of those high achievers suffered from depression. Do a little research online to find famous people who have overcome depression. Read about the many celebrities who are revealing their battles with depression. Read their stories. Take heart in the fact that there are others who have overcome depression, only you have the benefit of their experiences to draw from too!
Keep a journal of your journey through your depression. Document your feelings somewhere personal and completely private. Write in it daily if possible, let out your darkest thoughts and get them off your chest, this has worked for friends of mine to great effect.
Your body needs to be well-nourished, well-rested. Consider taking a chromium supplement. Some depression studies show that chromium Picolinate reduces carbohydrate cravings, eases mood swings, and boosts energy. Supplementing with chromium Picolinate is especially effective for people who tend to overeat and oversleep when depressed. Omega-3 fatty acids also play an essential role in stabilizing mood.
Exercise releases a natural anti-depressant chemical in your brain and gets you into doing something active. Start small with a simple walk to the local store or around the block, or to your garden gate might be the way to begin. Gradually work up to a routine that fits with your needs and enjoyment. A 10-minute walk can improve your mood for two hours.
Get yourself a pet. The routine involved in pets needing to be fed, groomed, and played with can be very satisfying for a depressed person. This is especially so because pets don’t provide a sense of judgment, but return love and acceptance, it’s a new soul mate.
Try a hobby you enjoy or think you’ll enjoy. Immerse yourself in it, painting is great, learning a new instrument such as guitar is also good. Direct your thoughts by joining a class if you are up to it, keeping busy is a fantastic remedy.
Reintroducing daily attention to grooming can help improve your mood and give you a sense of well-being. Get a new haircut or new clothes as part of cheering yourself up. Concentrate on the parts that you do love about yourself instead of fretting over what you don’t like. It is so easy to feel not bothered on this one, but trust me, a little effort pays off big style.
Doctors will prescribe medication. Ask questions about the medication you’re taking, including the duration and side effects. Be sure to report back to your doctor on anything you notice doesn’t feel right or if you’re experiencing side effects. You may need to have a change of dosage or switch to a different medication.
If you don’t want to take anti-depressants, make this clear to your doctor. Do your research beforehand to discuss alternative options because you will need to convince your doctor that you have the ability to actively work on your depressive thinking patterns and your lack of resilience without the aid of medication. While doing this can take some convincing (have a list of questions for the doctor), it is your right to express your preferred approach to treatment. It is important, however, to realize that battling depression without the aid of medication is challenging and can take longer.
Above all, listen and take on board any advice given to you, even if you believe it makes no sense, try to open up and resist being critical about advice. Others often see what you cannot.
Accept you are ill, staying in bed, not wanting to go out, feeling deflated and worrying are all symptoms, you must tell yourself that these symptoms will not last forever. Think of happy memories and acknowledge that there will be many more happy episodes in your life in the future.
There are many more things you can do if you research a little, but the main message is to confide in someone, family or friend, listen to their advice, use their straight thinking for a while, they will understand, then take little steps as above, slowly. Depression cannot be cured overnight, but it can be dealt with and managed with the right tools, and with the use of that little spark deep down inside you, you can build on it one step at a time, to a point where you can look back with disbelief at the person you once were. You are unique! You are special, you can unashamedly love yourself, you are deserving of happiness as much as the person next to you. Depression is an illness, you are not inferior, you’re just not well.