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Tips for Coping with Major Depression

Updated on July 29, 2013

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.

A diagnosis of Major Depression can be frightening and unsettling.  It is important to remember that you are not alone and that help is available.
A diagnosis of Major Depression can be frightening and unsettling. It is important to remember that you are not alone and that help is available. | Source

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:

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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.

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

Crafts or hobbies are excellent emotional outlets  for those with Major Depression.
Crafts or hobbies are excellent emotional outlets for those with Major Depression. | Source
Following the medical advice of your doctor and treatment team is very important in recovering from Major Depression.
Following the medical advice of your doctor and treatment team is very important in recovering from Major Depression. | Source

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.

Summary

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.

Learn to Live with Major Depression

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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 3 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Kansas,

      What an ideal hub. Hit home with me for I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and neurothpy in 2003---now unable to work, have to take shots in my back and take medications for the rest of my life.

      For over 50 years, I was blessed with good health, then one night, that all went up in smoke. Who knows why?

      When a man from the old school, like me, is used to providing for his family and suddenly cannot do it anymore, depression moves in quickly like a King Cobra.

      I did find a coping defense that is not in any medical journal.

      I just got angry one day when I was alone and yelled, "is this all you got?" "I dare you to hurt me more!!" And for some psychological reason, I felt better at not fearing depression anymore.

      Do I get depressed now? Sure. But with God and my stubbornness, I am living as happy as can be.

      This is a wonderful hub. A great read. Very helpful and informative. I voted up and away. I admimre your writing style and know that only good things will happen to you with works like this.

      I am following you and left you some fan mail. I cordially invite you to check out my hubs and be a follower of mine. That would make my day.

      Peace.

      K.

    • JeanaMJeffers3 profile image

      Jeana Marie Jeffers 4 years ago from Indianapolis, IN 46240

      This article was very beautiful thank you. It was well worded and organized. Thank you.

    • discopig profile image

      Emily 4 years ago from USA

      Great hub!

    • erorantes profile image

      Ana Maria Orantes 4 years ago from Miami Florida

      Ms. Kansasyarn ; thank you for your article on how to deal with depression. Congratulation on your hub.

    • kansasyarn profile image
      Author

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Kevin, the best advice I can give you is to communicate with your mental health provider (physician) and let him know the medication isn't helping. My medications had to be changed a number of times before the right combination was found. Be very open and honest when communicating with your physician. Best of luck!

    • profile image

      Kevin 4 years ago

      What do I do? I keep taking the pills!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 4 years ago from Midwest

      Congrats on hub of the day! :) I practice meditation to help with stress, anxiety and depression. I am prone to bouts of depression in the winter months especially because of the lack of natural light. I ensure i get adequate vitamin D and exposure to light to help. D deficiency is very common and has been linked to depression - something I never knew during all the years I dealt with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Exercise, managing stress before it triggers depression and ensuring I get the proper nutrients my body needs are how I cope and prevent bouts of depression from getting out of hand. Ensuring my D levels are adequate has nearly eliminated the problem for me in the winter months.

    • kansasyarn profile image
      Author

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Say Yes To Life, I agree that medication may not be for everyone. However, I do believe that the need for medication as well as any adverse effects needs to be carefully evaluated by a physician. Only with consent can medication be started. So, you are correct that we all have the right to refuse. For me personally, the medications were needed in the same way that a diabetic would need insulin or someone with high blood pressure would need medication. For most with Major Depression circumstances are only one piece of the puzzle. Thanks for sharing your opinion and for reading!

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

      Well deserved HOTD. An important subject which deserves to be featured in this way. Very well done.

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 4 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      Great hub! Besides exercising, which releases endorphins especially when I do a "sweat & swim", I also do hobbies that lift my spirits, like writing about better times in my life. I used to journal, but no longer do, since I don't enjoy writing about my depression or re-reading it.

      I am very much against psychotropic meds. I took them for awhile, and all they did was make me pack on a ton of weight. My depression is caused by circumstances, and obviouly no amount of dope is going to change those. I've known numerous people whose lives have been destroyed by psychotopic meds, so I believe unless you're schizophrenic or severely bioplar, it's best to avoid them.

    • connieow profile image

      Connie S Owens 4 years ago from El Cajon, CA

      Thank you for these terrific suggestions. I discovered when my thyroid is in working order, depression is not as much of an issue. I have had to learn to change the food I eat as well, because some food seem to contribute to the depression.

      Thank you.

    • kansasyarn profile image
      Author

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      So glad many are finding the hub useful! Thanks for reading!

    • DrivingPeace profile image

      Greg Weber 4 years ago from Montana

      Great Hub, and very worthy of HOTD. I especially related to some of the info in the video. When the guy was talking about feeling so worthless that he didn't think he deserved any help or self-care, I was thinking, "That's exactly how I feel!"

      Wonderful Hub. Voted up and shared!

    • profile image

      ocfireflies 4 years ago

      Excellent hub! Definitely worthy of HOTD. Congratulations!

      ocfireflies aka Kim

    • profile image

      saisarannaga 4 years ago

      You have done nice service to the patients who were affected by the illness. Such inspirational and educative hubs helps a lot of souls affected by the mysterious. Thanks for sharing your personal experience.

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 4 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Really a good hub. Thanks

    • kansasyarn profile image
      Author

      Teresa Sanderson 4 years ago from Rural Midwest

      Thanks to all for the comments so far! Major depression - and mental illness in general - is poorly understood. I hope this article can help raise awareness of mental illness. Thanks, again!

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 4 years ago from UK

      Pinned! Shared! Voted Up Useful and interesting.

      Thanks for sharing such useful advice - I am just embarking on this journey even though I have been fighting depression all my adult life having witnessed the devastation it caused for my poor mother.

    • eurozulu profile image

      bradley brown 4 years ago from Harrow Middlesex

      Really great read kansasyarn, never really suffered from depression but i know someone who really struggles with it, i do get times when i get a bit low but i just try to keep positive as much as possible.

    • avee-angel18 profile image

      avee-angel18 4 years ago

      Great advice even i personally feel music and cooking are great ways to fight depression.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      Congrats on the HOTD! This is a great advice and loads of informations. Thanks for sharing.