According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression is the leading cause of disability in the US for ages 15 to 44.3 and affects more than 15 million adults (6.7 percent of the US population). Depression is indicated by a broad spectrum of physical and psychological symptoms, which is why it affects a person’s quality of life. Overcoming depression isn’t easy, but it is not impossible. Taking it one step at a time and learning how to cope with your condition is a smart strategy.
1. Reach out for help from a professional
Experts theorize that rates of depression actually could be higher than reported because a lot of people don’t seek professional help. Therefore, they aren’t diagnosed with this condition. Seeking professional help is the last thing people with depression want to do because they consider it a sign of weakness. However, the opposite is true; getting professional help is a sign of strength and willingness to overcome this condition.
Look for psychiatrists or therapists that can help you face your emotions and cope with depression effectively. This applies to both people diagnosed with the condition and those who experience symptoms of depression, such as feelings of sadness, helplessness, mood swings, loss of interest or pleasure in most activities, or suicidal thoughts, just to name a few. Getting a diagnosis is the first step toward recovery.
When talking to a therapist, you dig deep into your emotions and get a whole new perspective on life. As a result, you’re more equipped to handle depression and come out of this fight a winner.
Besides reaching out to a professional, don’t forget your friends and family members. According to a study published in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, depression may sensitize people to everyday experiences of social rejection and acceptance. Researchers discovered that individuals with depression find greater satisfaction and meaning in their lives when they satisfy the need to belong. These findings point to the importance of positive social relationships for people with depression.
Additionally, a team of researchers at the University College Dublin discovered that increased social interaction helps rebuild your self-esteem, thus allowing you to maintain and develop positive relationships with other people. Their study included 100 adults with mental health problems and found that all participants reported feeling better when they socialized more often. They concluded that socializing helps alleviate depression symptoms.
3. Do things that help you feel good
One of the most common depression symptoms is a loss of interest and desire in doing things that you used to love or found pleasurable. This shouldn’t stop you from doing those things anyway. Of course, you can’t force yourself to feel pleasure when doing something, but it will come with time.
You will be surprised how much better you feel about yourself and the world. Depression won’t disappear immediately, but sticking to things you used to love doing will help you gradually feel better and make you more energetic and upbeat. The main reason this works is that doing something you found pleasurable before helps you realize you haven’t “lost” yourself. A lot of people with depression feel as though they have lost themselves and the sheer thought of questioning your personality can be overwhelming.
Take a few moments to think about hobbies or activities you loved before. They can be anything from reading, to listening to music, to spending time in nature to visiting museums to sports or other physical activities.
4. Challenge negative thoughts
Although it is natural for humans to have negative thoughts from time to time, depression amplifies them and puts a negative spin on everything, including your expectations and the way you see yourself.
Since depression makes you feel powerless, it is easy to give in and allow negative thinking to take over, thus aggravating your condition. When these negative thoughts overwhelm you, it is crucial to remind yourself it is just the depression talking and those thoughts do not paint an accurate picture of your personality and the world in general.
Negative thinking is irrational and when you take a closer look at those thoughts, you can see they don’t hold up. Of course, banishing these thoughts can be difficult and it won’t happen overnight. With a little bit of willpower and professional help, you will find it easier to cope and overcome them.
To challenge those thoughts, ask yourself these questions and give an honest answer:
- What would I tell my friend who thinks way?
- What is the evidence that supports this thought?
- What would I do if I didn’t have depression?
- What are the characteristics of mine or some situations that prove this negative thought does not define me?
Once you analyze your negative thoughts, you will be surprised how fast they crumble. Remember, you can’t eliminate them immediately, but evaluating negative thinking and challenging those thoughts helps you realize you are not powerless. Those negative thoughts don’t define you, and they are not realistic.
5. Exercise and eat a well-balanced diet
A healthy lifestyle is crucial for individuals with depression, and it helps alleviate symptoms you experience. When you are depressed, the thought of getting out of bed can seem like a struggle. Not to mention you don’t feel like moving or eating healthy food. But once you start realizing how beneficial exercise and a well-balanced diet are for your well-being, it will give you confidence and motivation, a major boost to keep going.
Evidence confirms that regular physical activity is effective in improving depression symptoms, while lack of exercise is associated with worsening of depression. Any activity is better than no activity at all. You have plenty of options, from taking daily walks to jogging to exercising at home to joining a gym, you name it.
Moreover, studies also show that an improved diet provides a practical treatment strategy for the management of depression and also helps address common co-morbidities (other diseases or conditions that can kill you) associated with this condition.
Focus on a well-balanced diet that supplies your body with different nutrients, don’t skip meals, and reduce your intake of unhealthy foods. All these are little changes that will mean so much for your emotional and physical well-being.
Coping with depression is a “one step at a time” process. The more you stick with these suggestions, the better you will feel. Seek professional help and socialize with other people, exercise regularly and eat a healthy diet, challenge negative thoughts and do activities you used to love. If you don’t want to take antidepressants, consult your doctor about supplements, such as Tranquilene, which are formulated to relieve your symptoms in a natural manner. Remember, the beginning is always difficult. You may feel like it won’t help, but if you stick to these simple strategies, you’ll notice you’re getting better.