1. Identify whether or not you have depression and seek help if necessary:
There are many common symptoms associated with depression. If you identify with one or more of those listed below, seek advice from your doctor. Signs of depression include
- Finding thinking or concentrating difficult, “foggy” thinking, inability to make clear decisions or forgetfulness
- Pessimism, or feeling a sense that life is hopeless, pointless and futile This may even lead to a feeling of numbness
- Body pains, cramps, digestive problems, headaches, and other aches that don’t go away with medication or treatment
- Being irritable or restless a great deal of the time
- Suicidal thoughts, thoughts about dying, or attempts at suicide
2. Ask your doctor to explore possible medical causes behind your depression.
Some depression results from, or is a side effect of, medical conditions or treatment for other medical conditions.It’s important for your doctor to identify any physical causes for depression that require specific treatments or to eliminate other reasons for your condition. Common medical conditions that might trigger depression include:
- Thyroid problems, hormonal imbalances (including pre-menstrual) or disease.
- Medications. The side effects of some medications include depression. Read the warning labels and talk with your doctor about any concerns you might have.
- Addictions to alcohol or other drugs.
- Genetic links to depression
3. Start your journey to wellness.
it’s important to view getting well as a journey of gradual steps, rather than something with an instant cure. There will be times that your determination is challenged by self-questioning and despair, but this is precisely when you must do your best to avoid being “depressed about being depressed!” Here are good ways to start:
- List the things that are bothering you outside of your depression. It could be unpaid bills, a lack of vacations or a tough job. In another column, write down some practical things that you think you can do to deal with the things that are bothering you.
- Be gentle on yourself. Life isn’t a race or a competition. The reality is that you matter, you have great value as a person and making things harder for yourself is akin to beating yourself up. Avoid obsessing about your depression or creating a shrine to it to hide behind when things all seem to hard. The feedback loop of hopelessness and despair created by being angry with yourself for being depressed will deepen your despair. Go back to naming your beast and setting it apart from who you are. Accept the journey to wellness is a matter of baby steps.
4. Research About Depression
Learn what you can about depression. You don’t have to, and indeed should not, rely only on what the medical professionals tell you about the illness. Knowledge is an important way to reassure yourself that depression is real, that it is a concern to be treated with seriousness and that there are many ways to defeat it.
- Visit your local library and borrow books about depression, anxiety, and happiness. Look in the psychology, self-help, therapy, and medical sections. For youth, ask about books specifically written for teenagers and children (children do get depression). You can also look at online auctions or book sites for affordable books about depression.
- Visit trusted online resources targeted at your population. Government and national institutes set up for mental health treatment are reliable sources of information.
- Helping recovery from depression through reading is referred to as “bibliotherapy”. If you’re motivated enough to take this path of recovery, it can be very beneficial. This method seems to be well suited to people who always turn to research as a way of answering anything they’re experiencing in life.
4. Keep a Journal
Document your feelings somewhere personal and completely private. This will be the place where you let out your darkest thoughts, no holds barred, because you don’t need to worry that anyone will judge you for them. A diary can become your collaborator in the struggle against your depression because it eventually provides you with great evidence of what improves your mood as well as what brings it down
5. Take Care of your body
Your body needs to be well-nourished, well-rested, and cherished. If you’ve been neglecting it or pushing it too far, you will pay a price and part of that will result in lowered resiliency and openness to depressive thoughts.
6. Maintain a good support network.
Support from people who love and care about you is an important part of the healing process. Tell people you trust that you’re depressed and would appreciate their understanding and sympathy.
- Realize that some people will find this confrontational or upsetting if they’re also feeling down, and others may be dismissive. You’ll need to reach a decision yourself as to whether it’s worth explaining things further with them, or whether it’s just best to stay away from them until you’re more resilient.
- Be willing to be honest about your irritability and reclusive behavior with those you trust. They need to know it’s not personal, but that you need space or time out every now and then.
7. Change your thinking
- Acknowledge the feeling will pass. This can be a very difficult step, but it’s vital because it helps you to start banishing thoughts of hopelessness.
- List all of your good points. When you’re depressed, it’s easy to understate the positive things about yourself. Turn this around by listing everything that is good about you. Include achievements from the past and hopes for the future, however few or random they may seem. If you can’t write this list, have a trusted friend or family member start one for you. This is a list to keep building upon as you work through your depression. Self-acceptance is a vital part of recovering from depression because you acknowledge that there are good things about yourself, but also that you cannot be perfect. This will help you stop judging yourself more harshly than anyone else.
- Make decisions, however small, and act on them. Again, while this is very difficult to do during depression, it is a vital element in facing the sense of helplessness that tends to overwhelm depressed persons.Small decisions like getting out of bed, calling friends or cleaning up the kitchen all add up. Once you act on them, they become achievements.