Do you ever feel overwhelmed by a low mood that seems to drain all your energy? Perhaps it even leaves you feeling disinterested in your typical activities? Maybe, at those times, you even withdraw or isolate from friends and family? If these descriptions sound familiar, you may be experiencing symptoms of depression. This can be a debilitating condition that might affect your overall quality of life. Action is needed to help reduce these symptoms. Learn some helpful ways for dealing with depression:
What is Depression?
Depression is actually one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health conditions. While many people may experience a sad mood, that is not quite the same as depression. Depression or major depressive disorder is much more severe. This makes dealing with depression more challenging.
The most common symptom of depression is a prolonged low mood. This is usually accompanied by low energy, disinterest in activities, and a lack of motivation to do even necessary tasks. Individuals with depression usually sleep excessively. However, at times, they may struggle to sleep at all. There may also be appetite changes, usually with a low appetite. When dealing with depression, a person may also experience some cognitive declines such as decreased memory and difficulty concentrating or focusing.
Stats About Depression
It is estimated that approximately 6.7% of American adults have at least one episode of major depression in any given year. This amounts to approximately 16.2 million adult Americans. If left untreated, the condition can worsen, eventually affecting a person’s ability to function. It can result in job loss and unemployment. In this way, the condition can affect the whole family unit. Children also experience depression, in lower numbers. If left untreated, the symptoms may persist to adulthood.
7 Tips to Start Dealing with Depression Today
Depression is a very challenging disorder to manage. This is due in large part to the fact that the symptoms themselves often halt a person from taking the actions that would otherwise help them. For example, having little energy and wanting to stay in bed only perpetuates the depressive symptoms. It is nearly impossible for a person to start feeling better if they are not being active and connecting to life.
1. Keep a Depression Journal
One way to start dealing with depression is to begin maintaining a depression journal. You may wonder what exactly a depression journal is. In some ways, a depression journal can be whatever you want and need it to be. At a minimum, you can use it as a place to write out your thoughts and feelings, which may itself be helpful. Beyond this, it will also be really helpful to use this journal to keep track of your mood and to keep track of the things that seem to affect it.
2. Set up a Routine
At first glance, you might think a routine sounds boring and even depressing in its own way. However, for most people a routine is a very important part of living in a way that will be healthy and positive for their mental health. A routine is just a generally established sequence for the events and activities in your day. Having a routine can keep you on track with doing what needs to be done, it can also motivate you, and it is generally helpful for good self-care.
3. Practice Sleep Hygiene
Along with having a routine for your day, you will want to have a bedtime. Having a set bedtime will be helpful for maintaining your overall schedule. This can be flexible depending on your obligations in a particular day. Along with that bedtime, you should practice sleep hygiene. This is a set of activities that seem to promote good sleep. It involves preparing yourself and your environment for bedtime. Sleep hygiene can be simple—do not drink caffeine late in the day, turn the lights down an hour before bed, and turn off devices that might keep your mind awake
4. Get Some Exercise
You have likely heard throughout your life that exercise is good for your health. You may think this just means physical health. However, research also shows that exercise is important for your mental health. It generally helps to promote mind-body wellness. Further, when dealing with depression, research has shown that exercise helps with behavioral activation. This means that it helps to get people motivated (activated) for other activities (behaviors). Starting your day with exercise may help you to combat your depression and help you to be more productive.
5. Challenge Negative Thinking
Psychological research has also shown that the way you think can greatly contribute to negative (depressive) thoughts that cause and then maintain depressive symptoms. Negative thinking can include having catastrophic thoughts (‘everything goes wrong’) and self-deprecating thoughts (‘I am not good enough’). When dealing with depression, it is very helpful to learn how to combat these negative thoughts. You can do this by monitoring for them, making note of them, and arguing against them. You do not have to make them positive thoughts, just less negative ones.
6. Practicing Self Compassion
Another approach for dealing with depression is to practice self-compassion. This may be something you have never heard of. While self-care is becoming more commonly considered, self-compassion is another, newer approach. It is essentially being compassionate towards yourself just as you would to another person. For example, if you had a friend that made a mistake, you would likely tell them it is okay and that they will do better next time. Do the same for yourself. It will also help combat negative thoughts and help to improve your self-esteem.
7. Reach out to Friends and Loved Ones
Social support can go a long way to help your mental health. When dealing with depression, it is important to reach out to friends and other loved ones. While the condition itself may push you to isolate, giving into that will only maintain the low mood. Instead, fight against that by moving towards the people who care about you and who can help you to feel better. Spending time with the people you love will also be distracting from negative thoughts and motivating towards action. Those loved ones can help you to carry out all your other self-care plans.
What Are the Traditional Treatments for Depression?
Depression is a serious mental health condition and sometimes dealing with depression on your own through self-care approaches, is not enough. In those cases, you might seek out help through therapy or medications. Each approach has specific options to choose from depending on what feels right for you.
Therapy for Depression
Many people choose to seek out therapy to assist them in dealing with depression. A psychotherapist or counselor is trained to help people with this mental health condition. In therapy, they can help you develop self-care techniques, combat negative thoughts, and get to the core of what may be causing the depression. Sometimes people have had some difficult history or other internal personal concern that seems to be the core cause for their depression. This can be difficult to uncover on your own, but a trained therapist can assist you with that.
If you attend therapy for depression, your therapist may take various approaches, depending on what they think will be best for you. One popular approach is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which helps to combat the negative thoughts you might be having and the maladaptive behaviors you might be engaging in. Interpersonal process therapy is another popular approach that many counselors use. In some cases, group therapy may also be recommended.
Medications for Depression
If your symptoms are very severe, you may need medications to help manage your symptoms of depression. When symptoms are better managed, you may then be able to make better use of the traditional therapy methods. If you are interested in pursuing medications for your depressive symptoms, you can first ask your medical doctor. In some cases, they may feel comfortable prescribing your medication directly. In other cases, they may prefer to refer you to a psychiatrist, who has special training in assessing your symptoms and prescribing medications.
Some people balk at the thought of using medications to treat mental health concerns such as depression. However, just like any other physical ailment, sometimes your body needs that extra support to function well. There is truly nothing wrong with it and no shame in using psychotropic medications. It should be considered as an option for dealing with depression.
What Are Other Ways of Dealing with Depression?
When dealing with depression, some individuals need help in addition to the traditional approaches of therapy or medication. Other people elect to take alternative approaches for their treatment choice.
ECT for Depression
For severe cases of depression, in which a person has not been very responsive to other treatment methods, ECT may be a solution. ECT stands for electroconvulsive therapy. In this approach, electrical currents are applied to the cranium and affect the brain. This is thought to change the brain functioning and its neurochemistry. The approach sounds unusual, but it has been found to help depression. It is not without its side effects though. Many people who choose this approach end up experiencing some cognitive challenges such as memory loss.
Ketamine for Depression
You may have heard of ketamine. It is most commonly known for its use as a club drug. However, research has shown that ketamine may be able to serve as a helpful treatment for individuals, who are dealing with depression, when other treatments do not seem to help.
It is thought that ketamine works by drastically changing brain chemistry. This does not mean that you should immediately run out and get yourself some ketamine to treat your depression. The research is still being done on the use of this treatment. Further, when misused, ketamine use can have negative effects. It really is best to consult with a mental health professional.
CBD Oil for Depression
You may have also heard of CBD oil. It is a product of the cannabis plant, which is best known for producing the popular drug marijuana. CBD oil is now being researched as a treatment option for all sorts of conditions, including depression. Many people are turning to CBD oil because they view it as a more positive, natural alternative to psychotropic medications.
It is believed that CBD oil helps depression because it interacts with the endocannabinoid system of the brain. This is a system that helps to regulate important body functions (including sleep, appetite, pain, pleasure, and mood). Further, CBD oil seems to influence brain activity associated with serotonin and dopamine. These are two neurotransmitters associated with depression. In these ways, the CBD oil seems to be able to reduce symptoms of depression.
However, just like ketamine, it may not be advisable to immediately try CBD oil. This is because everyone is different. It is good to take these sorts of approaches in conjunction with other treatment methods (such as therapy), and under the advisement of medical professionals, who can directly assess your symptoms, rule out other causes, and make the best recommendations.
Bottom Line: Dealing with Depression
Ultimately, if you are dealing with depression, you do not have to do that alone. In addition to seeking out the support of friends and family, you can also pursue professional help. You may want the assistance of a counselor, who will be able to use therapy approaches to assist you. You may also want the help of a psychiatrist, who can approach your symptoms from a medical model and prescribe medication. You may want to consider alternative treatments. Choose the route that feels right for you and whatever route you choose to take, use the help that is available for dealing with depression.
Today, many people choose to use online therapy to help them deal with their symptoms of depression. This approach can offer unique benefits. Online counseling can be more convenient. It also offers an increased level of confidentiality and privacy. If you choose to pursue online counseling, consider Thrive Talk. This platform is simple to use, and each therapist is well-trained to offer the help that you need.