How to cope with depression?

The stigma, lack of awareness and fear of backlash associated with mental illnesses like depression often force people to shy away from treatment and help. However, looking at its crippling effect, a person battling depression is bound to get thoughts like how to cope with depression or understanding the effective ways to deal with depression. Depression is different from the normal blues and can drain an individual’s energy completely, thus, making it difficult to tread the right path to recovery. In such a condition, it is important for an individual to understand how to cope with depression.

Depression affects every individual differently. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2014. And a pertinent point is that there are many cases who still remain undiagnosed or hidden behind closed doors.

Symptoms and causes of depression

Being aware of the common signs of depression is important as this can enable one to be mindful about his/her risk of developing depression. Some of the common signs of depression include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • Feeling low and hopeless
  • Anxiety and “empty” mood
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Low energy
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of restlessness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Inability to sleep properly
  • Appetite change
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Suicidal attempts and thoughts
  • Severe aches or pains
  • Emotional distress
  • Inability to function normally in everyday life
  • Lack of self-esteem

Factors that trigger depression

Mental illnesses like depression can be triggered due to several factors. While there have been a lot of myths associated with what can trigger depression, it is important for an individual to be aware about the common triggers for depression. This makes identifying triggers for depression easier. Some of the common factors that can trigger depression include:

  • Physical or mental abuse
  • Certain medications
  • Conflict with a loved one
  • Family history
  • Environmental factors
  • Other health issues
  • Substance abuse

Developing understanding about depression

Before an individual begins the journey to recovery and try out some tips on how to overcome depression, it is important for him/her to have a thorough understanding about depression. Having a detailed understanding about the condition can make it easier to know how to pull yourself out of depression. One can enhance his/her knowledge about the subject in several ways. Doing this is important for an individual to gain an understanding about how to overcome deep depression. This is because developing this understanding can make one capable enough to render required support to someone by helping him/her know how to deal with depression.

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Enhance your knowledge by reading books, talking to experts, visiting library and talking to an expert about the condition. Developing a wider understanding can make it easier to alleviate the related fears and worries. It will also motivate the person concerned to seek the right form of treatment at the right time. Along with this, one can also use his/her deeper understanding about the subject to help others around him/her understand what he/she is facing and hence, offer a better support to the person.

Effective ways to beat depression

Depression is a debilitating condition that can affect any individual. Therefore, it is important for one to be aware about the important steps that he/she can take to bring back positivity in his/her life. Incorporating some lifestyle changes and reversing negative thoughts can help one beat depression easily. Some of the other steps that one can take to attain recovery are:

Stay connected

When depression affects someone, he/she is very likely to prefer staying alone and aloof. This can compound the feelings of guilt and shame. Therefore, in order to feel better and attain recovery, it is important to reach out and stay connected with your friends and loved ones. Staying connected not only makes a difference in one’s mood but also helps develop a new outlook toward life.

Do things that make you happy

It is important to keep oneself engaged in hobbies and activities that he/she enjoys, such as gardening, reading a book, listening to music, playing with a pet, etc. This should be done in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle that includes developing healthy sleeping patterns, exposing oneself to sunlight and practicing relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise not only keeps one physically active but also acts as a great mood booster by promoting the development of endorphins in the body. While it is an effective way to reduce stress, regular exercise also helps one secure a sound sleep at night which can ultimately help keep depression at bay.

Stick to a healthy eating routine

To lead a healthy and productive life, it is important to follow a healthy and balanced eating pattern. One should never skip his/her meals but must reduce the intake of foods that can adversely affect mood, such as caffeine, sugary foods and refined carbohydrates. Instead, increasing the intake of food items rich in vitamin B, such as citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans and eggs, can help overcome depression.

Exposure to sunlight

Getting a daily dose of sunlight can help boost serotonin levels in the human brain, which, in turn, can help boost mood. One must aim for at least 15 minutes of sunlight exposure a day to fight against the feelings of depression. For instance, one can opt to go for a small walk or tea break, increasing the amount of natural light in home, using a light therapy box, etc.

Avoid negative thinking

It is important to have a positive mindset and refrain oneself from thinking negative about a situation. When an individual is depressed, it is obvious for him/her to hold a negative perspective toward everything around him/her, to ignore positive situations and to make negative interpretation about everything, etc. One should learn to question his/her negative thoughts, which, in turn, will make it easier to have a balanced perspective toward everything in life.

Try talk therapy

Consulting a psychotherapist can be a great way to curb the symptoms of depression. Doing so not only gives one an opportunity to develop a better understanding about his/her mental health condition but also ensures a speedy recovery. Some of the common therapies that can be used are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and interpersonal psychotherapy.

Try alternative therapies

Alternative therapies, such as art therapy and acupuncture, can help restore emotional balance in one’s life. It is also possible that while undergoing treatment, a person might need assistance in the form of alternative therapies for purposes such as better mood, preventing the feeling of isolation, etc.

Take prescription medications

Opting for prescription medications should be the last choice to recover from depression. The priority should always be to opt for natural ways to overcome depression. Antidepressants should be used if these are essential and prescribed by a medically certified doctor or one’s knowledge about how to fight depression without medication fails to help.

Seek professional help

Opting for self-help tips and incorporating lifestyle changes can serve as a great help to overcome depression. But consultation with a mental health expert should never be compromised. It is important to seek professional help immediately if someone feels the risk of developing symptoms of depression. One should make sure that any probable factors that signify the development of depression are not ignored as doing so might worsen the condition.

Arming yourself with a little knowledge of depression and ways to remain happy and positive can bring about a sea change in the situation of a person. Depression can drain one’s energy and make him/her feel hopeless and sad. Therefore, it is important to take preventive measures to curb its risk of development or seek professional help if the condition has already set in. Incorporating lifestyle changes can help but only to an extent. Nothing can replace the significance and importance of seeking help from an expert.

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