Depression can seem to cast a shadow over your entire life at times. Worse, it can be a self-perpetuating problem as the behaviors that it results in usually only serve to cause yet more depression. Much research has been done into depression as it is one of the most common forms of mental illness. While there is no definitive cure, we do have an array of interventions that are proven effective.
As with any complex problem, the most powerful remedy is often a compound approach. It may be a combination of talk therapy and medication or meditation and medication. Exercise and nutrition. Even religion or spirituality. Utilizing more than one remedy at the same time generates synergy. You’ll almost always get far more out than you put in.
All that is needed is enough willingness to try. We have to suppress the masochistic instinct to continue wallowing in misery just long enough to try something that just may work. You’ve got nothing to lose except a lousy mood. If your depression has continued for more than a few weeks, you may want to consider getting a formal diagnosis, if you haven’t already. A mental health professional can help you jump start your recovery and help you avoid common pitfalls.
Here are 5 useful tips for managing depression:
1. Get outside of the house
It may be the last thing you feel like doing when you’re depressed but going outside and getting some fresh air and sunlight has a real effect. Several studies have shown that depression is one of the mental health issues that is most improved by outdoor activity. (1)
2. Get outside of yourself
Isolating and focusing all of your attention inward almost never makes depression any better. In fact, it usually makes it worse. Spending time with other people, even when you don’t feel like it, is important. Humans are social animals. We are built for contact and interaction with each other. Stepping out of your own mind and into someone else’s experience for a little while can serve to not only get your mind off your own problems, it can give you a sense of purpose.
Everyone has something to be grateful for. No matter who you are. It may sound silly but a great deal of overcoming depression, in the beginning, has to do with going through the motions. Even when you think nothing can possibly lift your mood or make life seem less gloomy. Do it anyway. Act as if. You have nothing to lose but more of your misery. Start by making a list of the things you are grateful for. Make it a habit.
Forgive people in your past. Forgive people in your present. Forgive yourself.
Depression and anger are inextricably linked. Work on getting rid of anger and depression begins to lift. Forgiveness doesn’t mean saying that it’s OK that someone did you harm. It means you are choosing to let go of the anger and sadness and move on. Who can you forgive? Who might you ask to forgive you? Forgiveness is magic if you let it work for you.
5. Remember what brings you joy
Everyone has had things in life that bring them happiness. Even if it’s something that used to make you happy in the past and you think it won’t help, do it anyway. Surround yourself with beauty. Listen to music. Watch a movie that makes you smile or laugh. Read an inspirational book.
Here are some helpful resources:
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is an advocacy group for people who struggle with mental illness and their families. NAMI is an excellent resource for finding help and support.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available 24-hours a day at 800-273-8255. You can also chat with them online if you prefer at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Let someone help.