Ways To Cope With Depression
Recovering from and coping with depression take time. Here are some practical tips to help you fight back against depression.
Medically reviewed by Dr. John Ogrodniczuk, PhD Written by the HeadsUpGuys Team.
Recovering from depression takes time. The new habits and skills you learn now will you help throughout your life.
Battling depression is tough. Thankfully, there are many ways you can fight depression.
What works one day may not work as well the next, so you want as many tools in the toolbox to adapt and handle whatever depression throws your way. Similar to how symptoms of depression overlap and affect each other, some of the tips below overlap and can help address multiple symptoms.
Here are some tips for coping with depression:
Develop A Healthy Sleep Routine
Sleep has a huge effect on our physical and emotional health. Its likely that your previous sleep routine has gotten out of whack, which may affect everything from being able to go to school or work, to having the energy to see your friends. Get some tips to help you get into a sleeping routine.
We know it can be tough to take on any of these tips when youre feeling really bad. When it comes to self-help, strategies for feeling better are very individual different things work for different people. Not everyone will want to start doing yoga, for example, so keep trying different ideas if the first thing you try doesnt help.
Remember: it takes time to get better. Doing something for five minutes every day might feel useless at the time, but you could find that a few weeks later, your mood has improved a bit. Baby steps. Youve taken the first step in coming here, now keep it up.
Strategies To Improve The Management Of Depression In Primary Care
Efforts to improve the management of depression and other common mental disorders in primary care have focused on screening, education of primary care providers, development of treatment guidelines, and referral to mental health specialty care. Although well intended, these efforts have by and large not been effective in reducing the substantial burden of depression and other common mental disorders in primary care. Another approach to improve care for patients with depression is to co-locate mental health specialists into primary care clinics. Having a mental health professional such as a psychologist, a clinical social worker, or a psychiatrist available to see patients in primary care can improve access to mental health services but there is little evidence that such co-location of a behavioral health provider in primary care by itself is sufficient to improve patient outcomes for large populations of primary care patients.
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Dont Stay In Negative Emotions
At first, suppressing your feelings might seem like an excellent way to cope with depression. But, unfortunately, its not a very effective way to get out of a depressive episode.
If you feel sad one day, allow yourself to feel sadbut try not to stay in that feeling for too long.
To help with processing your emotions, consider journaling or writing down what youre feeling. Writing allows you to brain dump and get the thoughts out of your head. The scientifically-proven benefits of journaling are vast³.
4. Eat nutrient-dense foods
What youre putting into your body can directly impact how you feel. So youll want to avoid eating foods that can negatively affect your mood and brain, such as alcohol, trans fats, caffeine, and foods with high levels of hormones or chemical preservatives.
Creating a depression-fighting diet looks something like this:
Dont skip out on meals: Skipping meals can make you feel tired and irritable, so try and eat something a minimum of every three to four hours.
Reduce refined carbs and sugar: You might crave baked goods, sugary snacks, or comfort foods like French fries or pasta, but these feel-good foods can cause a crash in your energy and mood quickly. So try to avoid these types of foods as much as possible.
Increase your B vitamins: B vitamin deficiencies can trigger depression. You can take a B-complex vitamin supplement to increase your intake or eat more leafy greens, citrus fruits, chicken, beans, and eggs.
Depression Is More Than Sadness Impact Is Far
Depression is more than simply feeling sad it impacts individuals on a social, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive level.
Individuals with depression may have difficulty completing challenging tasks. They may feel confused, overwhelmed or easily frustrated. Even basic everyday tasks become difficult. Depression can leave some individuals feeling irritable, agitated, anxious and unable to focus. Others find they are no longer interested in hobbies, activities or learning new things.
Mood swings make it hard to pay attention, while feelings of hopelessness or low self-esteem can cause individuals to believe they shouldnt bother or simply cant learn new things. Further, depression puts students at a disadvantage given the social nature of learning in schools.
Depression is not easily recognized or may be mistaken as another problem, such as lack of motivation. Although severe depression might manifest as suicidal thoughts or attempts, severe withdrawal, or emotional swings, the vast majority of cases are much milder and do not attract attention from adults. Moreover, children and adolescents are less likely than adults to refer themselves for mental health problems.
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Can Depression Be Treated Successfully
Absolutely.Depression is highly treatable when you receive appropriate care. There is still some stigma associated with seeking help for emotional and mental problems. Unfortunately, feelings of depression are often viewed as a sign of weakness rather than a signal that something is out of balance.
The fact is that people dealing with depression can not simply snap out of it and feel better spontaneously.
Those with depression who dont seek help suffer needlessly. Unexpressed feelings and concerns accompanied by a sense of isolation can worsen depression. The importance of obtaining quality counseling for depression can not be overemphasized.
What Is Focused Meditation
Meditation is the practice of becoming self-aware through breath and attention to connect the mind, body, and spirit.Meditation as a whole can change the structure and function of our brain. That being said, focused meditation or a guided meditation for focus is by far the best one. Meditation for focus and concentration can come in different forms. Experienced meditators use the following:
- Mindfulness this meditation involves us to be focusing on your breath and observing thoughts. This allows us to focus on our feelings without becoming too absorbed in them.
- Concentrative a meditation that gets us to focus on a particular point be it a word, breath, object, or a point in the space youre meditating. This is meant for us to pay attention to that point and prevent our minds from getting distracted.
- Moving this meditation involves gets us to focus on slow and repetitive movements similar to yoga or tai chi. The goal is again to be focusing on your breath while relaxing your body and mind with the movements.
Focused meditation, also known as concentrative meditation, is the practice of meditating and bringing your attention to one single object. This object can be something practical and tangible, such as a mandala painting or a candle flame. It can also be something abstract, such as a phrase or a sound .
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Taking Care Of Yourself
Theres a natural impulse to want to fix the problems of people we care about, but you cant control someone elses depression. You can, however, control how well you take care of yourself. Its just as important for you to stay healthy as it is for the depressed person to get treatment, so make your own well-being a priority.
Remember the advice of airline flight attendants: put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. In other words, make sure your own health and happiness are solid before you try to help someone who is depressed. You wont do your friend or family member any good if you collapse under the pressure of trying to help. When your own needs are taken care of, youll have the energy you need to lend a helping hand.
Speak up for yourself. You may be hesitant to speak out when the depressed person in your life upsets you or lets you down. However, honest communication will actually help the relationship in the long run. If youre suffering in silence and letting resentment build, your loved one will pick up on these negative emotions and feel even worse. Gently talk about how youre feeling before pent-up emotions make it too hard to communicate with sensitivity.
Dealing With The Winter Blues
For some people, the reduced daylight hours of winter lead to a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder . SAD can make you feel like a completely different person to who you are in the summer: hopeless, sad, tense, or stressed, with no interest in friends or activities you normally love. No matter how hopeless you feel, though, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your mood stable throughout the year.
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How To Talk To Someone About Depression
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when speaking to someone about depression. You might fear that if you bring up your worries the person will get angry, feel insulted, or ignore your concerns. You may be unsure what questions to ask or how to be supportive.
If you dont know where to start, the following suggestions may help. But remember that being a compassionate listener is much more important than giving advice. You dont have to try to fix your friend or family member you just have to be a good listener. Often, the simple act of talking face to face can be an enormous help to someone suffering from depression. Encourage the depressed person to talk about their feelings, and be willing to listen without judgment.
Dont expect a single conversation to be the end of it. Depressed people tend to withdraw from others and isolate themselves. You may need to express your concern and willingness to listen over and over again. Be gentle, yet persistent.
Why Is Dealing With Depression So Difficult
Depression drains your energy, hope, and drive, making it difficult to take the steps that will help you to feel better. Sometimes, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem exhausting or impossible to put into action.
Its the Catch-22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do. There is a big difference, however, between something thats difficult and something thats impossible. While recovering from depression isnt quick or easy, you do have more control than you realizeeven if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. You may not have much energy, but by drawing on all your reserves, you should have enough to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one, for example.
Taking the first step is always the hardest. But going for a walk or getting up and dancing to your favorite music, for example, is something you can do right now. And it can substantially boost your mood and energy for several hourslong enough to put a second recovery step into action, such as preparing a mood-boosting meal or arranging to meet an old friend. By taking the following small but positive steps day by day, youll soon lift the heavy fog of depression and find yourself feeling happier, healthier, and more hopeful again.
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Tip #2 Listen To Positive Upbeat Music
Listening to positive upbeat music is a simple, yet effective way to boost mood and motivation. According to neurologists, listening to music affects our emotions and brings back the feeling of life when nothing else can.
Research shows that different kinds of music can actually produce different kinds of emotions. Sad music can help offer a release of pent up negative emotions, while positive upbeat music helps move the brain into a more active state as brain waves actually synchronize somewhat to the pace of the music youre listening to.
When were trying to invigorate brain function and activity, theres nothing more powerful than music. Scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function.
Dont Let Them Ignore Or Isolate Themselves From Others
This could also cause problems well because isolation makes us more vulnerable to other psychological issues such as anxiety disorders and PTSD. If we dont have anybody around us who understands what were going through, then it becomes much easier for these kinds of thoughts to take root in our minds.
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Establish Trust And Go Slowly When Dating With Depression
Taking it slow and establishing trust is a wise choice says Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, core faculty member of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University . The first date shouldnt be a confessional, says Tomasulo, Take the time to ascertain if both of you are interested in going forward and see how you feel in the presence of the other person. On the second or third date, you can test the waters by bringing up the subject of your depression in a general way.
Take Care Of Yourself
You won’t be able to support someone else if you are feeling overwhelmed and depleted yourself. Periodically take some time to step back from the situation and recharge your batteries.
While you can’t “catch” depression the way you would a cold or the flu, the shared genetic and environmental influences may make it more likely that people who live together or are members of the same family will become depressed.
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Get Seven Or More Hours Of Sleep Per Night
Depression and bad sleep often go hand in hand. In fact, research shows a strong link between depression and sleep disorders, with approximately three quarters of depressed people affected by insomnia.
Hypersomnia, which refers to excessive sleepiness, is also present in approximately 40 percent of young people with depression.
Lack of sleep can have a real negative impact on your mood, which may make the symptoms of depression worse.
Research has found that people who dont sleep enough also show cognitive effects, including difficulty concentrating and memorizing information.
For optimal mental and physical health, its important for adults 18 and over to try and get at least seven hours of sleep per night, according to the CDC.
If you have trouble sleeping, making changes to your lifestyle may help you to drift off and stay asleep easier. Try the following techniques for better sleep:
Need more help falling asleep? Our guide to falling asleep faster discusses 11 science-based methods that you can use to fight against insomnia and get deeper, more restful sleep.
What You Can Do
Thereâs no sure way to prevent depression. But you can:
- Find ways to handle stress and improve your self-esteem.
- Take good care of yourself. Get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise regularly.
- Reach out to family and friends when times get hard.
- Get regular medical checkups, and see your provider if you donât feel right.
- Get help if you think youâre depressed. If you wait, it could get worse.
If you do have depression, you can do a few things to keep it from getting worse.
- Stick with your treatment plan. If you are on medicine, take it as prescribed, whether you feel good or not. Donât skip therapy sessions. Let your doctor know what is and isnât working for you.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. It may seem like these make you feel better. But they can actually make it harder to treat your depression.
- Try ways to fight stress, like meditation and yoga.
- Spend time with family and friends. Think about joining a support group. Do things that keep you connected to others.
- Know yourself. Pay attention to the things that seem to make your symptoms worse. Keep notes and tell your doctor or therapist about it.
- Donât make big life decisions on a day when youâre feeling down.
- Talk to your therapist or doctor about medicine that can stop depression from coming back.
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Psychological Treatments For Depression
Psychological treatments have been found to be an effective way to treat depression. They can help you change your thinking patterns and improve your coping skills so you’re better equipped to deal with life’s stresses and conflicts.
As well as supporting your recovery, psychological therapies can help you stay well by identifying and changing unhelpful thoughts and behaviour.
There are several different types of psychological treatments including:
- cognitive behaviour therapy
- behaviour therapy
- mindfulness-based cognitive therapy .
CBT is one of the most commonly used psychological therapies. It helps people with depression to monitor and change negative patterns of thinking and improve their coping skills so they are better equipped to deal with lifes stresses and conflicts.
Ways To Help Yourself Through Depression
If you are going through depression, it’s best to get help from a therapist. To get the most from your therapy, you can do things to help yourself, too.
Here are five things you can do to feel better. They may seem simple, but they can help a lot.
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