How to Deal With Depression
With contributions from Brittany DaSilva
How we deal with the challenges life throws our way makes us who we are as individuals. This is where our real strength is born and where our character lies. Depression is not something you can describe with any accuracy because as you may know, the experience and feeling is beyond words.
There are hundreds of ways to deal with depression, each strategy and technique working for some and not for others. What’s great about a lot of physical illnesses is that the treatment is relatively straightforward and works for everyone (a cast for a broken leg, cough medicine for a cold). However, depression treatment has varying degrees of effectiveness depending on the individual.
Helping Yourself Cope With Depression
Depression is much more than just feeling sad, so be gentle with yourself when you’re unable to shake those negative feelings right away. It can take time and patience to begin to feel happy again, and that is okay.
Everyone copes in different ways, using different techniques. The first step in discovering what works for you is to learn what your depression is like.
Discover Your Depression Triggers
Is there anything in particular that triggers a depressive episode for you? If you aren’t sure, pay close attention to the events that led up to it next time.
It’s also helpful to keep a journal in order to track your thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and emotions on a daily basis. Recount the events of the day, especially if there was something that bothered you.
Keeping a journal will give you a timeline from which to understand your depression better and what thoughts or feelings are associated with your lowest points.
By learning what might get you down, you can recognize certain triggers as they appear and deal with those negative thoughts and feelings sooner before they take control.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
It might sound obvious to some, but staying physically healthy is pivotal to your mental health.
Do you get enough sleep each night? Do you drink eight glasses of water and eat three meals a day?
Even small changes can make a drastic difference if you are not maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s unreasonable to expect to feel happy if you suffer from poor sleeping habits and your body is deprived of the vitamins and minerals that it needs to survive.
Make a conscious effort to drink water throughout the day, eat your fruits and veggies, avoid too much junk food, and get to bed at a decent hour each night. Once this becomes routine, you’ll be surprised how much easier it will become.
Access Self-Help Resources
There are plenty of self-help resources out there for you to check out. Whether you are interested in reading a book to understand depression, completing a depression workbook, or attending a group therapy class, there are many avenues that you can take to learn more.
Most local self-help programs are free, as they are run by volunteers, many of which are living with mental illness themselves. You have nothing to lose in stopping by and learning more about their offerings.
There are many group therapy options that allow participants to learn the basics of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, without the expense of one-on-one therapy. Opening up to a group can be scary, but once you come to realize that you are surrounded by a group of your peers who support you, group therapy can be very successful.
Coping With Depression in a Relationship
If you have depression and are also in a relationship, it can be more difficult to focus your attention on yourself and your own mental health. Be sure to remind yourself that you can’t show your partner love or be mentally present in your relationship without maintaining your overall health.
There are many things that you can do together to strengthen your relationship, while also coping with your depression.
Learn a New Skill
Keep your mind active and engaged by learning something new together.
Have you or your partner ever made your own pottery? Does your cooking leave something to be desired?
There are many classes and workshops that you can access, simply by checking your community’s activity guide or doing a bit of online research. Trying something new is a fun way to spend more time with your partner, while the mental stimulation will keep those feelings of depression at bay.