For some people, depression is a lifelong battle due to various factors, but for most of us depression is temporary and circumstantial. But, when it strikes, we often think it will attach itself to us forever. When the strength of depression hits, it speaks in deceptive ways and leads us to think we’ll never feel joy again. So, what can we do to fight back?
I like to think of depression as a separate entity that takes residence is our heads and hearts for a period of time. Not a quiet visitor, though, but an entity which can be very loud, deceptive and convincing. So, the first thing I suggest is to remind yourself that depression is a visitor and not a permanent resident. Also, it’s important to remind yourself that you are not the depression. Whether your depression feels severe or weak, it’s not you and you’re not it. It will move through you in time and there are things you can learn and ways you can hasten its passing. Below are some questions and actions to consider when faced with a bout of depression which will help you move out of it quicker and better.
Is there something you can learn from your depression?
Often times depression develops because there is something in life needing adjustment or attention. Are you taking care of yourself physically with enough sleep, exercise and are you eating well? Is your life “balanced” with the proper mixture of work, play, time with partner and/or friends, alone time? Are the important areas in your life tended to such as health, recreation, work/career, finances, family, spirituality, romance and personal growth? Are you grieving any type of loss or change where depressed feelings and sadness would be a normal reaction? If you feel you’re experiencing a turn of mood because you’re out of balance or not taking proper care of yourself, think hard about making changes in life so you don’t have a return of depressed feelings pointing to the same cause. If you’re sad because you’re going through a loss or a substantial change, breathe deep and rest assured you’re most likely going to come out of your fog soon!
What are you telling yourself about your depressed mood?
The thoughts we entertain have a tremendous impact on how we feel. If you circulate the same negative thought in your head and give it tons of air time, it will undoubtedly impact your mood and motivation. Ask yourself what you’re saying about your depression. Are you telling yourself it’s temporary and will lift soon or are you having trouble seeing your way out of the depressed mood? Are you telling yourself you can’t have a good time 5 minutes from now, tonight or next week because of how you feel this very moment? Consider trying to put that form of thinking aside. It does take a lot of work to correct and replace the negative thinking that seems to have a mind of its own, but it’s worth the effort to counter the negative with the positive. It may not feel like it’s making much difference at the time, but it pays off over time.
What are you doing about your depression?
Too often, people “listen” to their depression, believe the deception, and passively wait until it passes. Although depression is a “visitor”, it will tell you to do things that inherently help it and not you. I imagine it whispering in ears and conveying messages such as, “Stay in bed all day”, “Don’t go out with friends because it won’t be fun”, “Don’t cook because it’s too much effort”, “Don’t exercise because it won’t do you any good anyway”, etc… The list of harmful messages spoken by depression is endless but all you need to know is what course of action will help lift you out of feeling sad. The list varies, but the central theme is, Stay Active! Regardless of how you feel, get out of bed and off the couch, be outdoors when you can, be with friends/partner/family when you are able and nurture yourself physically and socially. Isolation and inactivity are the fuel of depression. Knowing this, you can take simple but powerful steps each day you’re feeling down to move yourself out of feeling blue and back to feeling you again.
Depression is always painful, but if you keep the above three points in mind, you will most likely tolerate your painful mood more comfortably and push through it more quickly. Positive thoughts, good company, physical and mental activity and keeping your life balanced while feeling the effects of a depressed mood is a good prescription to feeling fully alive again. Connect with San Diego therapist Sylvia Flanagan today at (619) 318-1901!