- Mental Health
Tips for Coping with Major Depression
Coping with Major Depression
Major Depression is a chronic illness. Those with the illness are likely to experience periodic episodes of depression throughout their lives. As someone who has been personally touched by the illness, I have come to the understanding that I have a mental illness and that the nature of who I am has changed significantly. The following are some strategies that I have used to minimize my own stress, focus on healing and learn more about the new person I am becoming.
My Favorite Book About Living With Major Depression
Limit Tasks That Increase Stress When You Have Major Depression
In the days and weeks that followed my diagnosis of Major Depression I was able to remain at home in the care of my family. Because we own our businesses I was able to have a very flexible work schedule and really limit my work commitments. Work, which had formerly meant managing 2 companies and 20 employees, was now reduced to about two hours per day of whatever I felt I could accomplish. Still, I recognized that it was important to continue to go to work as it gave my days a sense of purpose and me a sense of accomplishment.
I also evaluated every commitment I had that was not necessary. I resigned from some committees and took leaves of absence from others. I made a tough decision to withdraw as facilitator from a local support group. These decisions were painful to me in the short-term, but also somewhat liberating as I no longer had to worry about the stress of preparing - or not being able to prepare or attend - the necessary meetings and functions.
Tip: Carefully evaluate all current commitments - especially the non-essential ones. As you can, eliminate them. If you are not able to eliminate them, determine what is absolutely necessary for you to continue. Consider if you can keep that commitment without causing yourself undue stress or anxiety. If you are able, continue in some commitments on a limited basis.
How Do You Cope with Major Depression?
When I am depressed I:
Personal Relationships Are Important to Recovery From Major Depression
When I was diagnosed with Major Depression it was overwhelming to me to think of calling my parents or siblings. Talking about my illness with anyone other than my husband and children seemed unbearable. To bare my emotions for everyone when I knew they were already so worried about me was unthinkable to me.
I understand now that my depression has isolated me and kept me from my family and friends. My family and friends love me dearly whether I am happy or sad, laughing or crying. Though it took a few weeks for me to come to this realization, I now call or visit my family and friends regardless of the possibility of showing my emotions.
Tip: Depression is painful to everyone when relationships are put on hold because of symptoms. Lean on family and friends for support. This can be challenging because it involves exposing a very vulnerable side of yourself. Understand that those who love you want to be a support for you whether you are anxious, sad or happy.
Crocheting is an Excellent Hobby for Someone with Depression
Provide Emotional or Creative Outlets to Help You Cope with Major Depression
As I limited my commitments I also changed in the type of commitments and activities I involved myself in. In the early days after my diagnosis I crocheted simple one hour projects at home. Small dishcloths can be made quickly and easily and give a great sense of accomplishment. At the same time, the activity is captivating and allows the mind to rest. I took up cross-stitching as a new hobby that could easily be brought with me in the car or even to work for a break when I needed an emotional escape.
Tip: Find activities that allow you to focus your time and energy in a positive way. Reconnect with old hobbies and give yourself the opportunity to explore new ones. Pets are also wonderful at reducing stress and providing an outlet for emotions and activity. Exercise or walking can also ease symptoms of major depression. You may need to try a few different activities before you find what works best for you.
Exploring New Hobbies or Getting Back Into Old Ones Can Be Helpful in Coping with Major Depression
Stay on Medications and Follow Your Treatment Plan for Major Depression
By far one of the most important aspects of coping with a new diagnosis of Major Depression is to follow the treatment plan. Treatment may include talk therapy (counseling), antidepressant medications, and, at times, hospitalization. Depending on the severity of the symptoms it is important to make sure that anyone suffering with Major Depression does not have an opportunity to hurt himself. Suicide is a risk of Major Depression, but it does not happen that often. 90% of the time Major Depression can be successfully treated with medication and talk therapy.
Antidepressant medications may take several weeks to achieve their full effect (have an improvement on mood). This may make it challenging to remain on the medication while waiting for the effect to occur. Then, once the mood changes and improves, the depressed person may feel they no longer need the medication. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just as someone with high blood pressure needs high blood pressure medication everyday, the person with depression needs antidepressant medication everyday. It's that simple.
Talk therapy may be short-term in nature and only needed in periods of crisis or it may be on-going for life to manage the risks of recurrence of Major Depressive Episodes. Talk therapy teaches valuable strategies for coping with stressors, changing perceptions, and developing a positive self-care plan. Medication, talk therapy and psychiatric care together can successfully help those with Major Depression recover.
Tip: You must have confidence in your physician and therapist. Be sure that you are comfortable with each professional because you have to be able to share intimate details of your thoughts and feelings. Having confidence in your treatment team makes it easier to stick with the treatment plan. Ask questions during your appointments. Consider keeping a notebook to save questions between one appointment and the next.
Major depression is a mental illness that affects every aspect of one's life. A person can find himself very much changed by it. There may be days of tearfulness and days of anxiety. Stress can make the symptoms of depression much worse.
Coping with the new diagnosis of Major Depression requires learning to care for yourself in a new way. It may require taking medications, minimizing commitments, and finding new outlets for emotion and energy. The good news is that it is treatable and that most people with major depression lead healthy productive lives.