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DIY Tips for Combating Depression
Depression is a serious illness that afflicts about 10% of the population of the country. It is often termed a whole body illness, because it impacts every area of a person’s life. Depression not only leaves a person feeling sad, angry, hopeless or helpless, but it also disrupts sleep, eating, sexual function and weight. Mood disorders like depression also isolate people, remove them from supports, leave them confused and unable to remember things, and worst of all, feeling like suicide is the only answer.
Depression is also a treatable illness. The best treatment comes in the form of a combination of medication and talk therapy; this gives the person struggling with depression the best chances of having a full recovery with no more incidences of depressed mood. However, there are things that a person can do that will help their mood on their own. There are little things that a person can do that do not cost anything that will help combat depression.
Before we go any further, it is important to note that these are tips for fighting depression; they are not therapy and do not take the place of seeing a professional counselor or doctor to be diagnosed and treated properly for depression. What these tips do is help you while you are getting in to see a therapist, or help you manage your depression between sessions. These skills will help build up your resistance to depression and give you a strong base with which to overcome this disease when used in combination with therapy. Lastly, if your depression is to the point where you are thinking about suicide, please reach out for help immediately.
Now here are some tips for combating depression.
Exercise. You will hear this one a lot, mainly because it works and has been well researched to aid in fighting depression and a whole host of other problems. Not only does it get you out of your head for a little while, a common problem in depression, but exercising releases endorphins in your brain, which are your body’s own antidepressant neurochemical. Getting out and raising your heart rate for just thirty minutes a day can work wonders for mood and overall health.
One of the things that depression makes you do is isolate yourself. Which is just a downward spiral when it comes to mood. A person feels miserable so they stay home alone and away from the world. This makes them more depressed, so they have no energy to go out, which makes them more isolated, and more miserable. You must get out and be around people. First, find one or two close people that you can talk to about your depression, especially for when things get bad. If that does not work, find a couple people you can just talk to, about sports, movies, whatever, so you can just not be alone, and have something you can do to distract yourself.
This is a back end way to socialize if you find there is no one right now with whom you want to be around. Volunteering gets you around people, socializing, and also helping those who may be less fortunate than you. That has been shown to leave people feeling better about themselves for helping, and also more grateful for what they have. This will go a long way to minimizing depression. So places like senior centers, community meals, or animal shelters are always happy to have extra help, and this can be a help for you as well.
When people accomplish things they really feel good about themselves. When someone graduates from college for example that can be a huge goal that will give them great joy and pride. Setting daily goals for yourself helps to tamper depression. It builds momentum, because when you accomplish one thing, you have more energy and can direct that to another. The trick is to set realistic goals for yourself every day, over and above any long term goals you may have. This could be something as simple as the goals is to shower and go to work, or clean a bedroom. Make it something that is reasonable for you.
Keep a schedule.
Being organized does more than just help you know when the kids need to go to baseball or ballet, it actively helps you against mood disorders. When a person is active and has a plan to follow, it is more likely they will be focused and follow that plan. If you have a daily schedule or routine, you will be less likely to have time where you just sit and think, getting lost in your thoughts, which will most likely lead to a more depressed state. Stay active and organized, and keep to a daily routine. Structure is the enemy of depression.
Take medication as prescribed.
If you have an antidepressant, or any medication really, that is prescribed to you, it is vital you take it as it is written. Antidepressants need to be taken as directed or they do not work. They need to be taken daily. They do not cure depression, but they do make the symptoms go away until the effects of the medication wear off, so you must take them daily as written.
Finding ways to calm that inner voice that comes with depression will be immensely helpful in your recovery. Meditation, yoga and other relaxation or mindfulness exercises have been shown to help improve mood, decrease anxiety and stress, and aid in some physical health problems as well. Find what works for you and stick with that.
Depression can be a terrible condition if it is severe enough. That does not mean you have to suffer. Treatment is available and it helps alleviate some or all of the symptoms of depression. If you or a loved one are struggling with depression please seek help immediately. Open Counseling has a list of therapists in your area that are affordable. Your depression does not have to be lifelong.
Jason Simpkins is a writer at Open Counseling. He is a clinical social worker in Michigan and is dedicated to having quality mental health care available to everyone. And as a University of Michigan graduate, he says a hearty, Go Blue!