- Mental Health
How To Stop Being Depressed
How To Stop Being Depressed
This article is primarily aimed at those of us who know the nature of the anchors that keep us from finding the surface. Not all depressions stem from worry, and not all depressions are inherently damaging. If you are certain that you can rule out any chemical and clinical depressions such as dysthymia, which will require more than just a shift in mindset (a trained professional will be of great use), then this article is aimed at you!
Our objective: To relativize our concerns and turn needless and counterproductive traits such as low self-esteem, self-pity and lack of motivation on their heads, and to build a solid platform from which we can construct a more productive, happier you two-point-zero.
Symptoms Of Depression
- Irregular sleeping patterns (too much, too little, can switch at random).
- Substance abuse.
- Inability to motivate yourself.
- Feelings of hopelessness.
- Rapid weight gain/loss.
- Having a short temper, inability cope with additional stress and responsibility.
- Rashes, acid reflux (chest pains can be confused with heart problems).
- Panic attacks.
- Lunacy (wild mood swings which can vary from depression to elation).
1. Being Realistic
Most traumatic experiences will begin and end with a modicum of denial (as demonstrated by the Kübler-Ross model). Our first step is to back a step back and asses our issues objectively by realizing that we are depressed and stop acting like we aren't. Everyone in the world will connect with the concept of doom and gloom that depression brings about, and will, at least superficially, respect your cry of distress (and if they don't, take them out of the picture).
No matter how small, or seemingly "silly" our reactions and actions are, we need to purge the feelings of guilt that give rise to a wavering sense of self-worth. Depression is a vicious cycle, and building self-esteem (more on this in a little bit) is a surefire way to minimalize it's detrimental impact on our thoughts and life.
Realize that trauma and depression will chemically and functionally alter the way you think, accept this at face value and do not judge yourself too harshly during periods of irrationality. Try the following exercises in order to draw a contour around the depression and gain a measure of control:
- Write freely for 10 minutes jotting down anything that comes to mind, without editing. Afterwards look for patterns of negative thoughts and negative assertions. Realize that self-talk can be corrected and will help you shape your thoughts in a positive way. Turn negatives to positives and read it again.
- Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself what other people would see. It can be heartening to realize that the turbulence and trauma you feel are shared and masked by others too. Look at yourself as if you were someone else. Look at yourself in the eyes and see where your thoughts take you. Be aloof from criticism!
- Assess the root causes of your depression realistically. For instance, if triggered by a bad break up, know that you were happy before and will be happy again. Accept that it will take time and that it is now raining (in the words of the beloved Stephen Fry, be sure to watch the video below!).
- Go outdoors and try your best to look radiant and approachable, happy and at peace. Notice how people treat you. Now do the opposite and take note how people shun you. In order to assuage your sense of self-esteem, know that how people perceive you is largely down to body language.
A Must Watch
2. Improve Self Esteem
Perhaps the single greatest challenge in how to stop being depressed will be to love ourselves once more. It may sound capricious and superfluous when confronted by severe problems in life, but the simple act of smiling can, while not make problems disappear, certainly make them less traumatic and more easily dealt with.
- Fake it till you make it. The simple act of faking a smile will set in motion an entire chain of chemical processes which, lo and behold, are identical to an authentic sense of happiness.
- Put yourself first. Do things for yourself! Loving oneself is imperative, and you may have forgotten how important you are.
- Remind yourself constantly that happiness and completion only require you. You are only ever a decision away from smiling.
- Be active and unapologetic in purging all that drains you from your life. People, things, habits and routines. Ignore and subdue feelings of guilt -- you are entitled to live life according to your own terms.
- Tap into, or create new social networks. Talk yourself out with your family. While the thought of baring all to people may seem intimidating, remember that even the happiest person can relate to a downer (happiness is only happiness when related to pain, a happy person will have known suffering).
- Forgive but don't forget. You have the ability to be whoever you want to be, and a depression is a fantastic way to begin anew (I will even offer that it is occasionally needed). Turn a one-way street into an opportunity.
Finally, accompany all introspective activities with getting out and about and tickling your senses (get a coffee in the sun) and appeasing your body. Engage in new hobbies, improve your fitness and health and rediscover childlike wonder over the simple things that surround you.
Life - Back In Your Hands
Most people who suffer from depression claim that they feel as if they were being whipped too and fro by problems in life, feeling helpless and cast into the wind.
Realize that by setting small, achievable objectives and doing them, you are taking power and your life back into your own hands. If you are depressed about your inability to lose weight, for instance, set small benchmarks rather than large ones.
Live life according to your set of rules and let nobody dictate how you feel and act. You have far more power than you think. Another example would be that of someone who was recently dumped who is anxiously waiting for that phone-call from their ex. Realize that you have the power to distance yourself from this, and get on with your life. Sometimes the single act of doing something because you can, is enough to shake yourself from your reverie.
The Fight Or Flight Response
Lastly, the most common reason that people bolt to the emergency ward is because they feel that their panic is something far more severe. Panic attacks can feel eerily like heart attacks, but they aren't. These mechanisms stem from our ancestral past, where the body actually tried to help by stimulating our bodies to fight threats (say, a tiger). The heart beats faster to provide more oxygen to the muscles, your eyes dilate to see better in the dark, your bladder empties in anticipation of a fight e.t.c.
The problem is that our bodies are wired to fight physical threats, and have evolved poorly to deal with today's intangible problems. But because a threat is detected, our bodies still react the way they did tens of thousands of years ago. Be assured that you run no risk at all, and that au contraire, it is a sign of a healthy human being! Sometimes just knowing how panic attacks work can rid you of them!