Depression is a very unpleasant disease. It prevents you from living fully and enjoying life. Fortunately, depression can be cured. We’ll talk about this later. For starters, a little test. How accurately do the following statements describe your condition?
- You feel unhappy all the time. This continues for at least two weeks.
- Nothing really makes you happy, including your hobbies, your favorite food, and hanging out with your friends. It’s like all the positive emotions have been sucked out of you.
- You have no strength for anything. Sometimes it’s hard for you to even get out of bed.
- You cannot concentrate properly on business and get tired very quickly.
- You are not able to think as clearly as before.
- It seems to you that life has suddenly lost its colors, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel and never will be.
- You often feel guilty and think about your own uselessness.
Do you agree with most of the statements? It’s too early to diagnose, but you have every reason to suspect depression. Here are some tips to help you get out of the black hole.
Tip #1: Don’t Blame Yourself
“Come on, you have no reason to be sad. You are strong, pull yourself together, finally! – you can hear from relatives, friends, colleagues. Unfortunately, many still do not understand that depression is not just a bad mood or psychological immaturity, but a serious mental disorder that is accompanied by physical and biochemical changes in the brain.
Depression can result from a combination of several factors. Among them are chronic stress, somatic diseases, traumatic events, genetic predisposition. Whatever the reasons for your depression, it is important to understand that you are not to blame. This is a disease, not weakness, laziness or lack of will.
Tip two: see a specialist
When our teeth hurt, we go to the dentist. With high fever, runny nose and cough, we turn to the therapist. But for some reason we are not in a hurry to visit a psychiatrist, even if we understand that not everything is in order with our psyche. But in vain.
If you constantly cry and do not want to live, you need to go to a specialist. He will figure out what is really happening to you (it may turn out that you do not have depression, but, for example, an anxiety disorder), and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
Here the question arises: to whom to enroll? To a psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist? We recommend starting with a psychiatrist – a specialist who has a higher medical education. He will make a diagnosis and, if necessary, prescribe drugs. It is possible that the psychiatrist will advise you to visit also a psychotherapist.
Tip #3: Don’t give up on medication
If you have severe or moderate depression, your psychiatrist will likely prescribe medication for you. No one can force you to take medicine by force, but it is better not to ignore the doctor’s recommendations. Do not be afraid that antidepressants will change your personality or cause addiction. The devil is not as scary as he is painted.
In simple terms, people with depression have an imbalance of hormones in the brain. The task of drugs is to restore it, in particular, to increase the level of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. The body will rebuild and continue to maintain balance on its own.
Like other medications, antidepressants can have side effects. Sometimes so minor that they can be tolerated for the sake of getting rid of depression. Sometimes very serious – in this case, you will need to change the drug or reduce the dose (but only after consulting a doctor).
Medicines will relieve your suffering, but you should not rely on them alone. Healing from depression takes effort.
Tip Four: Identify the Source of Stress
The limbic system of the brain is responsible for emotions. It is she who reacts to danger, releasing stress hormones into the bloodstream and forcing you to make a decision “fight or flight.” It is an important biological mechanism necessary for survival. However, it is not designed to keep you stressed all the time.
When chronically stressed, the limbic system goes into overdrive, and this failure can lead to depression. To heal, you need to turn off the constantly screaming alarm in the brain.
First of all, you need to determine what exactly causes you mental pain. Anything can be a source of stress – an overly stressful job, family troubles, a tyrant boss, unfriendly colleagues, a toxic friend.
The second step is to try to pull out this splinter. Think about how you can make a difference. Of course, leaving a tyrant husband or quitting a job is not easy. But it is much easier than spending your whole life in anguish and anxiety.
No sudden movements needed just sit down, think things through and make the most detailed plan for your salvation. Even if you do not immediately decide to implement it, the first steps have been taken – and this alone will bring you relief.
Of course, there are things that you cannot influence, such as the death of a loved one. Here it remains only to go through the pain, accept what happened and eventually overcome the grief. Over time, you will feel better – perhaps with the help of a psychotherapist and antidepressants.
Tip Five: Watch Your Mind
In depression, we become hostages of automatic negative thoughts. They only appear to be true, but they are actually false beliefs. Let’s take a look at a few common thinking traps.
All or nothing. You can’t get through to a friend and say, “I don’t need anyone.” Or fight with your loved one and accuse them of “never listening to you.” It is obvious that this is not the case.
Mind reading. Your friend replied dryly to the greeting, and now you have been tormented for the third day, trying to understand how you offended him. Familiar? So, this is a completely pointless exercise: you are not a telepath and you are unlikely to guess what is going on in someone else’s head. Most likely, you are not here at all. Maybe this person is just tired, or maybe he just got scolded by his boss.
Catastrophization . You made a small mistake in the report, and your brain is already painting gloomy pictures: getting fired, unsuccessfully looking for a new job, a homeless, impoverished old age, and a lonely death under a bridge. Agree, all this is too unlikely.
Hanging labels. A person with depression tends to stigmatize himself. Get rid of this habit. Failure in the last competition does not make you a “loser”. Being sick doesn’t make you an “irresponsible mother.” Just because you haven’t been able to figure something out in your new job yet, it doesn’t mean you’re “stupid”.
To cope with depression, you need to change the way of thinking that undermines you from the inside. The next time you take on labeling yourself, predicting all sorts of horrors, or reading other people’s minds, remind yourself that these are just perceptual distortions.
Tip #6: Save energy
Depression lowers performance. You get tired very quickly. Motivation and rational thinking suffer. Every action that a healthy person costs almost no effort is given to you with great difficulty. What you used to do in an hour can now take a whole day, or even two. How to survive this period with the least losses?
Try to leave only the most important things on your to-do list — the things that affect your or someone else’s life — and cross out the rest. Cancel meetings that deprive you of energy, give up unnecessary part-time work, ask loved ones to take care of household chores.
Break the remaining tasks into very small steps. Let “open mail”, “read a message from a client”, “clarify information”, “write a reply”, “send a letter” will be five different tasks. Praise yourself for every item you complete. Now any action for you is a real victory.
Try to make a clear and detailed plan in the evenings for the next day. Then in the morning you will not have to load your brain with unnecessary work: you just need to follow the instructions. In addition, planning itself calms the nervous system.
Tip Seven: Replenish your “bank account”
Imagine that your mental energy is a bank account. Then everything you do during the day can be divided into two categories: income and expenses.
Expenses are, for example, morning preparations, work, household routine … Incomes are laughter, reading, food, movement, sleep. If you are overtaken by depression, you need not only to spend your resources more economically, but also to replenish your account more often. There are many ways to restore energy balance. Here are a few of them.
Physical activity. Exercise stimulates the production of serotonin, norepinephrine and endorphin, helps reduce anxiety levels, and has a positive effect on sleep quality. Of course, during depression it can be hard to even just get out of bed. But if you can still move, move. And it is not at all necessary to train for several hours in the fitness room, even a ten-minute walk to the store will be beneficial.
Warm bath. Helps to relieve stress a little, relaxes and improves mood at the end of a hard day.
Meditation. It alleviates the symptoms of depression, helps reduce anxiety, achieve a state of peace, harmony and concentration. True, for meditation to work, you need to do it every day. And one more thing: under certain conditions ( prepsychotic ), it can provoke deterioration.
Communication with those who recharge your battery. Usually during depression, we do not seek social contacts. However, we still need support. We offer this strategy: limit communication with people who seem to suck energy out of you, but leave around you those with whom you feel good and who can provide moral support (by the way, these are not always friends or relatives). Relief can also come from an online group where people share their ways of coping with depression.