10 Ways You Can Help Your Depression
Disclaimer: I Am Not a Doctor!
This article is not intended to replace medical advise. I'm not a doctor, nurse, therapist or in the medical field at all. I'm just someone who struggled with depression for years. I have found that there are many things that you can do to help your situation or augment the help you receive from therapy and medications.
Ten Things You Can Do to Help Overcome Depression
1) Improve Your Self-talk How do you talk to yourself? Do you tell yourself repeatedly that you are a "loser" or do you say, "I'm awesome"? Your brain listens to these internal statements. It is not conceited to believe in yourself and to be kind to yourself. Like Whitney Houston says, "Learning to love yourself, is the greatest love of all." At first, you may not believe it. You may look in the mirror and think... "OOO yuck!" but make yourself say "I am beautiful" or "I am attractive" or "I am glad that I am me." Say it even when you don't believe it at first and say it frequently and out loud. Eventually, you will start to believe it, and you will much closer to being the person that you want to be. For more information, check out books on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
2) Prime the Pump - What I'm talking about is motivation. Think of a lawnmower. You need to prime the motor before it will start. It's like that with life, too. Even when you are extremely tired and have absolutely have no desire to get out of that bed, if you make yourself do it, you will feel more motivated.
3) Exercise- This ties in heavily to point number 2. You are tired, miserable, and have completely unmotivated to do anything. FORCE yourself to go to the gym if you have a membership or MAKE yourself take the dog for a walk. Exercise can helps with fatigue, depression, fibromyalgia, relaxation, sleeping problems and anxiety.
4) Determine Your Triggers- I found that there were several people, situations, and topics that seemed to be a snowball on the top of my snowing mountain of mental health which eventually became that avalanche of depression, guilt and fear. If you can recognize these triggers, you can take action before you find yourself under that big snow mound. One way to do this is to avoid the people, places and situations that set you off if possible. Sometimes we continue to socialize with a crowd that we really don't like and who are emotionally destructive simply because of habit. If your monthly lunch with the girls, seems like a bragging session that makes you want to vomit, skip it! However, sometimes you have to deal with difficult people like a mother-in-law, boss or neighbor that is condescending, arrogant, unpleasant or just plain mean. And sometimes there are situations where you just feel inferior, frightened or lonely. Construct a plan for how you will deal with the situation before you go. It's best to do this on one of your better days. It's important to be able to distinguish rational thinking from irrational. If you are in therapy, rehearse this with your therapist. Try and determine what it is about this person or situation that sets you off. Investigate what emotions they trigger in you and why. Then try and look at the situation objectively and rationally. Perhaps, come up with a phrase or word that will remind you of these rational thoughts. Then the next time you are in this trigger situation, remember that you are in control.. You have practiced and prepared and can look at this situation in a rational way.
5) Food- I had no idea just how much food influenced my emotional state. I was so tired and unmotivated. And when I was depressed, tired, and unmotivated, I craved comforting foods. For me, these foods were things with wheat and dairy. Ice cream was definitely a favorite! It seemed to make everything seem better because it tasted so good. First thing in the morning when I really, really wanted to just go back to bed, I had to have a cup of coffee and a granola bar, cookie, muffin, pop-tart or whatever carb-laden sweet treat I could find. And when I was having a really bad day, I'd have a glass of wine or a margarita adding a depressant to my already depressed state. A chiropractor suggested that I remove gluten (wheat, barley, and rye), dairy and simple sugars from my diet to help with depression. So I gave it a try. After a few days, I couldn't believe the difference in my mood, energy level, and pain level. I also removed cola and alcohol as well. This is something that you can try and it shouldn't hurt anything. Try starting slowly like taking out bread and trying to find other things to eat like rice. If nothing else, it may make you feel empowered that you were able to do it for one hour or even one meal.
6) Vitamins - I found that my depression was made worse by nutritional deficiencies. Blood work from a yearly physical revealed that I was severely deficient in Vitamin D. After about two months of taking a supplement, I noticed that a hand tremor I had for several years had disappeared. My chiropractor recommended several other vitamins supplements. I highly recommend that you talk to your medical practitioner before you make any significant changes or additions.
7) Journaling- A good way to learn about yourself is through journaling. This can be through a blog, a diary, a spiral notebook or Word document on your laptop. Start by writing about your day or your feelings that day. Don't forget to write on your good days, as well as, the bad. If you are a painter, try painting, or if you are musical, try writing a song. The point is to find constructive way to express, understand, and explore your feelings.
8) Let Go of the Guilt- This is easier said than done, but i found that my guilt tied in to my depression, so it needed to be addressed. Make a list of some of the things you feel guilty about. Then go through your list and cross off the items that you have no control over or those that are impossible or impractical to do. Make a point of being very aware as you cross off these items and saying out loud if possible, "I will no longer feel guilty about this, since I have no control over it." Then on another sheet of paper, write the word "Goals" in big letters. Turn the negative and destructive items into a positive and action-filled list of goals. You may find that many items on your "guilt" list are insignificant and are not worthy of mental anguish. However, the items you feel strongly about, that you really would like to change, and would help you to become a better person, should be turned into an action and written on your goals list. Next, try tackling them slowly and one at a time. Remember that you are in control and have chosen to attempt to work on these goals. Be proud of yourself for making an effort to make a difference in your life.
9) Make a Schedule - Sometimes I found that the more time I had to philosophize about my life, the more depressed I became. Some days, I would look back and find that I hadn't accomplished anything which would tend to make me feel even more depressed. Either first thing in the morning or the night before, come up with a general plan for the day. Don't make it extremely rigid, making sure you leave a little "free time" for fun or relaxing activities. Try to include one item from your "goals" list. Post your schedule someplace handy and attempt to follow it if you can. Forgive yourself for the items you don't do, and praise yourself for those you do. Look at it this way, you at least made a schedule for the day which is more than you did the day before!
10) If It Isn't Working, Try Something Different - If you have been journaling, exercising and trying to help yourself over the last six months and you are still depressed, it's probably time to talk to a therapist. If you've been taking Prozac for almost a year and it no longer seems to be helping, go back to your doctor and ask to try something different, or ask to start an outpatient program at a stress center. If you just don't seem to click with your therapist or they just don't seem to be helping at all, go to someone else. Just because a therapist helped a friend does not mean that they are the best person to help you. Think of seeking help as a wise and empowering thing you can do for yourself, rather than a form of weakness. The sooner you get help, the sooner you will get back in control of your life.
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