Effective Tips For Overcoming Depression
By Abigail Boyd
Updated June 14, 2019
Depression is a serious, widespread condition that affects not only a person's mood but also his or her ability to work, be productive, and maintain relationships. 1 in 5 people in America is impacted by depression and other mental illnesses each year and depression is the number one cause of disability in the 15-44 age category. Over 19 million Americans are currently suffering from depression, leading to a huge economic and social impact. One million people each year around the globe end their lives due to depression.
Depression is pervasive, has nothing to do with laziness or a defect of character, and is not something you can just snap out of. Getting over depression is possible, but it requires knowledge of the condition, persistence, and a commitment to getting better. Overcoming depression is no easy task, but by using these methods for how to recover from depression, you can regain control over your mind and your life.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a condition in which the individual experiences persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, negative thinking patterns, loss of interest in the activities and hobbies he or she once enjoyed, and many other symptoms. For depression to be diagnosed, these symptoms need to persist for two weeks or more. Depression does not discriminate; it can impact people of all ages and socioeconomic levels.
Depression convinces us that there is no hope, no point, no way out of the darkness. In reality, depression is a liar. While depression recovery is rarely a quick fix, the condition responds extremely well to the treatments we currently have available in most cases. While everyone's condition is different, and recovery depends on a variety of factors, there is much reason to hope. According to the National Mental Health Association, in over 80% of cases, those who seek depression treatment will get better. Even those with treatment-resistant depression can see some easing of their symptoms with effort.
Unfortunately, most people wait for months and even years to seek depression treatment. There's no reason to wait. The faster you seek treatment, the sooner you'll experience relief. These ways to overcome depression can help you recover.
Why Getting Out Of Depression Seems Hard
Depression isn't just about feeling blue. Depression has a strong impact on many parts of our brains and bodies, sapping our motivation, energy, and drive. It can take dedicated effort just to drag ourselves out of bed in the morning. The thought of having to add anything on top of our already overwhelming responsibilities makes us feel like we may collapse.
In addition, it can be hard for family and friends to understand what we're feeling if they've never experienced it themselves. Many people still hold outdated views that depression isn't real and that we should just be able to "snap out of it." In truth, they are the ones who are in denial. Even if those around you are supportive, since depression manipulates the way you perceive yourself and the world, you can experience feelings of guilt and shame.
Depression may try to rob you of your identity and your life and make you feel helpless and hopeless. However, the truth is you have more control and more ability than you realize. The more effort you put into your depression recovery, the more confidence you will build, and the fog will begin to clear. Even if you slip back and have to start over again, you'll already have a foundation to work from.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the standard professional treatment for depression. In CBT, a therapist works with you to identify your negative and distorted thinking patterns and challenge their validity, working to replace these self-limiting beliefs with positive thinking. Changing your thinking patterns can take time and effort, so CBT usually occurs over an extended period. The most effective treatment currently known for depression is CBT combined with antidepressants.
The most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant belongs to a class of medications known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These include medications such as Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft. Other antidepressants are available that work in different ways, including raising neurochemicals such as dopamine or norepinephrine. Medications may need to be taken consistently for several weeks to reach their full therapeutic effect.
If you're considering medication, your doctor can help you find a medication that works for you. Not everyone responds to the first medication that they attempt. It's usually a process of trial and error to find the correct one and the correct dose.
In addition to therapy and medication, there are many other steps that you can take to help you in battling depression. Recovering from depression is more likely if you employ the following self-help strategies.
Exercise has been shown to be one of the best non-medication treatments for depression. It can be hard, however, to get up and moving at first. Depression's effects on the body, including fatigue, heaviness, and exhaustion, can make it tough.
It's best to start small. Even 10 minutes of walking or even exercising in your home can be beneficial. Aim to build up gradually to 30 minutes of exercise at least 4-5 times a week. You may even feel a good amount of fatigue after the first few attempts. However, keep with it. Your energy levels will begin to improve and the fatigue will dissipate. Before beginning an exercise routine, make sure to check with your doctor.
Focus On One Task At A Time
When you have depression, you may be quickly overwhelmed by the things that you have to do. This can become a vicious cycle, as worry or negative feelings might cause us to procrastinate and avoid tasks, thereby increasing our stress levels.
In these times, it helps to remind ourselves that it's a normal part of depression to feel unmotivated and averse. We may not be able to do everything, but we can still accomplish some things. Acting does not require as much motivation as we think, and sometimes the act of starting can make the process easier. Try to adopt a mindful state and focus directly on the task in front of you.
Avoid Rumination As Much As Possible
Rumination refers to the habit of thinking the same thoughts over and over, without an end goal or concrete solution. Many people with depression get caught up in rumination. You may lose track of time, swept away by the thoughts in your head. Research has shown that people who ruminate more tend to have more depressive symptoms and a harder time recovering. There is nothing to be gained in endlessly thinking about the situation. Even if it feels productive, it's keeping us stuck.
When you find yourself ruminating, begin to train yourself to get out of your head and focus on something external. If you start to drift back into your thoughts, gently urge your attention back to the present moment.
Try To Stay Social
It's very common to want to crawl under the covers and hide from the world when we're depressed. But connecting with others can actually help our symptoms. Reach out to good friends, family members, or others in your life. Ask for help when you need it. Push yourself to get out of the house whenever you get the opportunity. The more you isolate yourself, even if it "feels" right, the more your symptoms will grow.
Improve Your Diet
Another area of self-care that has an impact on our mental health is our diet. Depending on how depression affects you as an individual, you may lose your appetite and find it hard to eat or, alternatively, that your hunger is increased and you crave sugar and junk food. While giving in to these cravings can make you feel good at the moment, it sets you up to crash later on. The neurotransmitters in our brain are made in part by what we eat. A lack of sufficient nutrition can have serious implications and medication won't work if it doesn't have proper nutritional support.
While everyone's dietary needs vary, in general, a diet that includes high levels of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, protein, and low amounts of healthy fats can decrease the risk of depression. A diet high in processed meat, refined grains and sugar, and excessive fat have been linked with greater instances of depression.
Preventing A Relapse Of Depression
Depression is usually a chronic condition, which means that once you've gotten through a period of depression, it has the possibility of coming back. Depression prevention involves being aware of your mental state and continuing both a regular self-care routine and stress management. Now that you know what to look for, you know how to avoid depression by staying aware of what to look for and acting accordingly.
Help Recovering From Depression
Combating depression can be tough to do on your own, particularly if you don't have a strong support network. A therapist can be a lifeline in these times to guide you in how to come out of depression. The licensed and experienced therapists of BetterHelp can provide you with counseling and support when you need it most. Online therapy removes barriers for people with depression to access the help they require. Connecting with an online therapist and keeping in regular contact will assist you in maintaining your mental health and warding off relapse.