Depression is often left untreated and can last for months, even years. Sometimes it is seasonal, known as seasonal affective disorder. The long term effects of ignoring your condition can be lasting. Thinking mental health can be beaten by simply ignoring it is a grave mistake. I know, the toll on my relationships, family, finances and health has been high.
I have suffered from depression my whole life (over 40 years). I recently learned the steps for coping with depression to manage and minimize the impact. This takes great effort and determination and is not anything to be ashamed of (at least 20% of the population has a mental health issue).
Depression is treatable but don’t do it alone – seek professional help and get a proper diagnosis and treatment.
steps for coping with depression
- educate – research and understand the possible reasons for your depression
- medical help – find out if you really are depressed and what medical condition you have. There are many disorders. Proper treatment can only be applied with the right diagnosis. You should also find a counselor to help treat you on a regular basis. There are many methods that involve no medication depending on your condition.
- support – the best thing you can do is cultivate a few good relationships for support and friendship. If you are a typical introvert this may be harder but seeking a forum or local support group is a good starting point. Maintain a few social activities even if you have to force yourself. Avoid negative people.
- get active, get outside– this is the time to do the activities you love. If you don’t have any regular activities – start now. Going for a walk, especially in nature is very therapeutic.
- volunteer – there is nothing more uplifting for a depressed person than to help someone else.
- personal care – Don’t forget to look after your personal needs. Do not lay in bed all day. Get up and brush your teeth, wash, wear clean clothes and keep your environment clean – important since your body is weak.
- food & water – when we are tired and worn down we forget to nourish ourselves properly and start eating more fast food. This is the time to eat slowly and deliberately with healthy meals and snacks. Regular intervals of water and tea are useful, especially green tea. There are many foods that can help with depression.
- Avoid alcohol, coffee and cigarettes – good advice for healthy people too, the alcohol and coffee in moderation are fine. When you are depressed however, alcohol and cigarettes effect the already altered hormones and chemicals in your body.
- exercise – your body needs to keep fit to fight of the effects of depression and your brain needs oxygen. You’ve heard it a hundred times but
- meditate, relax and breath – this will help get that oxygen to your brain and keep you from thinking too much.
- sleep – don’t forget to sleep. Go to bed at a regular time and not too late. Try to get at least 8 hours even if you sleep very little, like many introverts do.
- limit negative thoughts – on impulse it is easier to complain and we have a tendency to think about all the horrible things that are going own. Stop watching the news, reading the paper and going to websites that have a negative flow of information. Go to positive places only. Make a list of all your achievements instead of what you haven’t done.
- learn about gratitude – this is a gift that keeps giving and is an amazing pick me up. I go and watch the video called A Good Day every time I need a real pick me up.
- music – If you don’t play an instrument or sing then listen to your favourite songs and try to pick the happy ones.
- make changes – usually the most significant cause of your depression is the lifestyle you keep. If you don’t like something – do something about it. Take time to discover your passions and purpose and make changes to integrate them into your life.
These steps are easy to implement. Try them one at a time in order to make sure you do not get overwhelmed. With the help of a professional, a support group and just one good friend you can get there. Know that people are there to help you through it and it’s not your fault – many others are in the same boat.