Tips on Overcoming Depression
By Matthew Peters
I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder at the age of fifteen, and have lived with mental illness now for over three decades. The truth is, I’m sure I was depressed before that. I also suffered from anxiety and trichotillomania—I used to twist and pull out my hair in large clumps and hide it underneath the living room furniture.
I’ve gone through debilitating periods of major depression, during which I questioned my will to live. I suppose the fact that I’m still here qualifies me to talk about living with depression. You are just as qualified to add your voice to the discussion and I encourage you to do so in your comments. We are all in this together.
Before listing some tips on living with depression, first things first — if you or someone you know is thinking of harming themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). As their website says, “Whether you are thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend, or need emotional support, there are a million reasons to call the Lifeline.”
Here are some tips on living with depression:
- Nip it in the butt—Don’t wait until you are in the middle of a full-blown depressive episode. Reach out at the first signs of trouble.
- Realize that emotions change—In the middle of a depressive episode, it sometimes feels that nothing will ever get better and that you will always feel poorly but, try to remember that things will change. Take comfort in the fact that this too shall pass.
- Talk to someone you trust—Depression wants you isolated and alone. Remember, you are far from alone: One in four adults experiences mental illness in a given year. Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. This is the first step in getting the help you need.
- Seek professional treatment—Seek help from qualified professionals.
- Be open to different treatment strategies—Don’t close the door on any particular treatment option. Realize that finding effective treatment can take time and may consist of a combination of different options. (Advice on Depression--Better Help)
- Don’t be ashamed of your condition—Would you be ashamed if you were suffering from diabetes or heart disease? Mental illness is just as real as physical illness. Don’t contribute to the stigma by being ashamed of your condition.
- Be kind — to yourself and others—Everyone you meet is fighting a battle. Be kind. First, know that being kind to others starts with being kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up if you are depressed.
- Play—Incorporate playtime into your daily schedule. Doing so can relieve stress, increase brain function, and improve your mental health.
- Exercise—Research has shown that moving about can help elevate your mood and relieve depressive symptoms.
- Don’t be afraid to do what you have to do to take care of yourself—Even if what you have to do in order to combat depression seems silly—I listen to Christmas carols in the middle of summer. Take the steps you need in order to feel better.
- The delaying tactic—If you are depressed about an upcoming event, try not to dwell on it until you absolutely must. By the time it comes around, you will often find that you have the strength to deal with it.
- Break it down—If you are having trouble getting through the day because of your depression, try breaking time up in manageable chunks. If the day seems too much to get through then try getting through the next couple hours or even the next few minutes.
- Cultivate gratitude—It is difficult to be grateful and depressed at the same time. Try focusing on the things in your life for which you are thankful. Look for things to be grateful for throughout the day. Make a gratitude list and keep it handy. For a step by step guide to writing a gratitude list click here- http://substanceforyou.com/stay-grateful-in-recovery/
- Realize it is up to you to take steps to improve your mental health—It is up to you to take responsibility for your mood disorder. No one can improve your mental health for you. You have to be proactive in managing your condition.
- Realize the power of your thoughts—As Milton said, “the mind can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven.” The power your thoughts have over your feelings and your behavior is enormous. Replace depressed thoughts with healthier, balanced thoughts and witness the effects.
- Seek entertainment—Reading, watching a show, or listening to music can take you out of yourself. Don’t underestimate the power that various forms of entertainment can have in making you feel better.
- Educate yourself and your loved ones—The more you know about something the less frightening it is. Take the time to learn about depression and take time to educate those around you about your mood disorder.
- Join a support group—There are support groups for depression and other types of mood disorders. Be sure to check out the availability of such groups in your community.
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