Here’s the ugly truth about depression. It destroys lives.
Depression means much more than just a bad week. It is extreme sadness or despair that lasts more than days and drains your will to live.
The sad thing is that there is no quick fix or one-size-fits-all for overcoming depression. The key is to understand the type, cause, and symptoms of your depression so that you can take the first step to overcome the problem.
Table of Contents
- What is depression?
- How will you know if you are depressed?
- How do you deal with depression?
- 1. Practice mindfulness techniques
- 2. Listen to upbeat, positive music
- 3. Use the power of touch
- 4. Have a diet rich in Omega 3
- 5. Put a stop on negativity
- 6. Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts
- 7. Distract yourself from negative thoughts
- 8. Use more light
- 9. Try cognitive therapy
- 10. Write your thoughts in a journal
- 11. Connect with your friends and family
- 12. Get enough sleep
- 13. Forgive and let go of grudges
- 14. Exercise daily
- 15. Don’t give up
- 16. Beware of overthinking
- 17. Focus on what you’re doing right.
- 18. Resist the urge to live in your dark past
- 19. Do not be anxious about the future
- 20. Incorporate structure into every day
- 21. Think about what you can today
- In conclusion
What is depression?
Depression is a debilitating mood disorder. It is different from sadness because it interferes with your ability to work, study, eat, sleep, and enjoy life.
It is a serious mental health condition that has an impact on both your physical and mental health.
Depression is a major risk factor for suicide because of the deep despair it brings you. Being overwhelmed with negative emotions, you may think that suicide is the only way to escape all of it.
How will you know if you are depressed?
With depression, there’s this feeling of impending doom, emptiness, apathy, anger, and restlessness. You will feel intense helplessness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.
You may also feel that you don’t care anymore about former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or anything that gave you pleasure before. Because of this, you will have trouble sleeping, eating, and functioning – you’ve lost your drive to live.
How do you deal with depression?
Coping with depression is easier said than done because you just can’t will yourself to snap out of it. However, you still have more control than you realize.
Dealing with this mental sickness requires action. However, taking action when you’re depressed can be hard. Because you don’t have the drive to live, taking the first step may seem impossible.
The key is to try and start with a small, positive step. Here are 21 steps to help you feel better:
1. Practice mindfulness techniques
A depressed mind mulls over all that is wrong which reinforces misery. On the other hand, mindfulness involves focusing on the present moment.
Be aware of the present moment instead of thinking about what went wrong in the past. Being aware will give you more choice in how to respond, instead of becoming swept up in escalating negative emotion.
2. Listen to upbeat, positive music
Music can be food for the soul. That is why listening to suicidal lyrics when you have depression won’t help at all.
An upbeat tune can change an atmosphere instantly – it makes you dance, smile, and create a more positive vibe. Listening to happy music can improve your mood while a depressing song can do the opposite.
3. Use the power of touch
Science shows that touch therapy, such as acupuncture, acupressure, massage, reiki, and reflexology, tangibly and significantly decreases the level of depression.
It lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases the feel-good hormone oxytocin which improves a person’s mood.
4. Have a diet rich in Omega 3
Research has shown that depressed people often lack omega 3 fatty acid. When the participants took just a gram of fish oil each day, the symptoms of depression decreased.
Not only is Omega-3 fatty acid good for the brain, but it is also food for the heart. It lowers cholesterol and improves cardiovascular health. You can get omega-3s through walnuts, flaxseed and oily fish like salmon or tuna.
5. Put a stop on negativity
Depressed people tend to see the world negatively.
Every time things go wrong, they blame and beat themselves. On the contrary, they do not acknowledge their part when things go right. Depression reinforces self-doubt and makes a person feel worthless.
While it may be easier said than done, stopping negative thoughts is possible. When feeling low, don’t take your thoughts seriously. There’s a difference between acknowledging the thoughts and believing in them.
6. Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts
When you are depressed, your mental state is not entirely balanced and you have to accept that. During a depression bout, you tend to see the negativity in everything.
What you can do is to gently remind yourself that you are tuned into the negativity channel but you don’t have to listen to your thinking. Know that you are not your thoughts and you have power over them.
7. Distract yourself from negative thoughts
When depressed, you will experience a barrage of negative thoughts. It is best to distract yourself from overthinking and negative thinking.
Know that your thoughts are your enemy so you have to stop it as soon as you notice a negative thought. Distraction comes in many ways like playing with a pet, going for a walk, reading a book, or finishing a puzzle.
In short, do anything that takes your mind off your fears and worries. Sometimes, keeping busy is good especially when it comes to overcoming depression.
8. Use more light
One type of depression is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is known for causing low mood over the winter months when there is less sunlight. Its symptoms include problems in sleeping, anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue, apathy and loss of libido.
SAD typically goes away in the summer when Mr. Sun says hi again. When you are suffering from this type of depression, you can invest in a sunlamp to get your dose of light and overcome depression.
9. Try cognitive therapy
Cognitive therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on present thinking, behavior, and communication rather than on past experiences and is oriented toward problem-solving.
CBT is extremely useful in counteracting depression because it provides a mental tool kit that can be used to challenge negative thoughts. The counselor will help you understand your current thought patterns and identify any harmful ideas that can trigger depression or make it worse.
Cognitive therapy aims to reduce a person’s psychological distress by changing their way of thinking. Because of this, it has been used not only in treating depression but also for people who have anxiety, panic, fears, eating disorders, substance abuse, and personality problems.
10. Write your thoughts in a journal
Writing can release tension so use a journal to write down your feelings, fears, and worries. Treat it as an outlet to let go of the negative thoughts running in your mind.
Another good way to use a journal is for practicing gratefulness. Every day, write at least five things down that you are grateful for. Doing so will force you to think more positively and reminds you that things are never that bad.
In your gratitude journal, you can write about anything that happened in the day that you’re grateful for, even how little it is. It can be anything like a smile from a workmate, a kiss from your niece, the sun shining – anything that made you feel appreciative will do.
11. Connect with your friends and family
When depressed, it is important to be surrounded by the people who love you. Force yourself to go out and enjoy the companion of your family and friends.
Isolating oneself from others is not really a nice idea as you will be prone to negative thoughts. However, taking a small step to connect with your support system will have a huge positive effect on your mood.
12. Get enough sleep
When you get inadequate sleep, you are more vulnerable to irritability, stress, and negative thoughts. However, healthy sleep can enhance your mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
Be wise enough to ensure that you get adequate sleep between 7.5 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Remember that the quality of your sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life – which includes your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, physical vitality, and even your weight.
13. Forgive and let go of grudges
When we hold a grudge, we are the ones that feel the anger. This anger is like an acid that eats us.
On the other hand, the person whom we are angry with is probably going about their business. You see, anger destroys us, not the other person.
When you don’t forgive, you allow others to have power over you. So try not to allow that anger to continue – it only affects you, not them. Find a way to forgive for your peace of mind.
14. Exercise daily
Exercise is a natural treatment to fight depression. In fact, just one hour of exercise a week to prevent depressing thoughts, according to science.
Regular exercise releases endorphins which improve mood and help fight depression. Apart from that, it can also lower blood pressure, protect against heart disease, cancer, and boost self-esteem.
15. Don’t give up
Depression makes you want to hide away from the world and disappear. Yes, it’s okay to take some time out but give yourself a time limit and then do something productive to improve your mood.
Don’t give up on life even when it gets difficult. Hang in there and keep going because you are a fighter.
16. Beware of overthinking
The word “ruminate” comes from cows. Yes, it’s Latin meaning for chewing cud, a less than appetizing process in which cattle grind up, swallow, then regurgitate and re-chew their feed.
Today, ruminate means overthinking and overanalyzing an issue at length. Ruminators are prone to depression because their negative outlook hinders their problem-solving ability.
17. Focus on what you’re doing right.
Maybe your life is very tough right now. But remember that there’s always sunshine after the rain.
Do not belittle your resilience, capability, and fighting spirit. We all have it in us to survive.
18. Resist the urge to live in your dark past
Time spent reliving and thinking about the negative things that happened in the past is like going back to the dark ages. There’s nothing good there.
This damaging mental habit is a threat to your emotional and mental wellbeing. It will only make you vulnerable to self-loathing, which doesn’t do anything to make you feel better. The past is in the past, let go and live in the present.
19. Do not be anxious about the future
Worrying about the future contributes to anxiety and it is not uncommon for anxiety and depression to come together. It’s referred to as anticipatory anxiety. When these two mental disorder is present, it will be twice as hard to overcome.
A chronic worrier tends to catastrophize everything and cannot see the beauty of the present moment. Leave the future where it belongs and enjoy what you can do now.
20. Incorporate structure into every day
Sometimes, depression is the result when you don’t know what to do in your life. A lack of scheduled activities and inconsistent routines increase the feelings of helplessness.
But when you plan your day, it can help you gain a sense of control, thus decreasing the feeling that you’re worthless.
21. Think about what you can today
You might have experiences traumatizing childhood and life experiences which depressed you but remember that you are responsible for your choices as an adult.
While trauma and tragedy affected you, you can still gain control of your life because you are the author. Do not continue living as a victim – rise above it because you’re strong.
When you’re depressed, you may think that you are in a black tunnel with no light. But the truth is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Hold on because you are stronger than you think.
***Do you want to be a stronger person? Do you want to stare down your challenges and overcome any obstacles? If so, check out our eBook: The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Mental Toughness.