So are you a person who is currently feeling depressed, gets depressed often, or are painfully familiar with depression? Does the sound of medications and seeing a psychotherapist repulse you? I bet you (like me) are sick and tired of the strong hold depression takes on you when it comes around.
Fortunately even when depression leaves you feeling so weak that you can’t muster the energy to bathe, you can get yourself out of moderate depression (I specify moderate in respect for anyone who has been fighting against a chronic or severe major depressive disorder). I tell you this not because I am a psychiatrist who has studied depression theory for years… But instead because I am an average person like you who lived with depression and was able to kick it to the curb by adding simple behaviors into my daily life.
I want to help people with depression understand that there is hope, so that they can get the help they need to live rich, fulfilling lives. -Tom Bosley
By the Way You Have Nothing to Be Ashamed Of
I recently accomplished my life-long dream of graduating college, exciting right? You (and I) would think… However, instead of going into a state of utter excitement and enthusiasm I dropped down into a deep state of depression. Initially I was embarrassed to admit it (even to myself), the fact that I was depressed made me feel selfish and guilty. I thought, “Here I am someone who has every thing going for them and I am moping.” I thought if I acknowledged that I was depressed it would make me appear weak, so I refused to accept it.
If you are having similar feelings, let me stop you right now! Depression is not something you have control over. Initially it sneaks up on you like a ninja. Worse of all is that it is like a rude guest who will come inside your house (mind) without your invitation.
Although becoming depressed is out of your control, regaining happiness and leaving depression behind is in your control. The first step just like at AA is to admit you have it and that it is a problem. If you do not understand why you are feeling depressed after accepting it you will. Depression is good at signaling a deep-seated issue in you and once you become aware of this void, you can begin getting your life back.
Once I realized that my depression was stemming from the fact that I was unemployed and worried about finding a job I gained a leg up on it. Essentially it was an enemy hiding in the dark and I turned the lights on! Once you understand why you are feeling blue you will be able to brush all those barriers to happiness (shame, guilt, and embarrassment) aside and start naturally treating your depression.
6 Behaviors to Naturally Defeat Depression
1. Gratitude – The first behavior I started with was to write about all of the things I had to be grateful for in a gratitude journal at the start of each day (that link explains the process in more detail). This helped me begin each day with a positive frame of mind.
2. Connect – Then I started to make sure that I talked to at least one friend or family member each day. I tried to make it a habit of spending at least 3 hours a day socializing (even if I couldn’t bear the idea). Preferably I tried to get face-to-face interactions but if it had to be on the phone then that was okay too. However, I did not count Facebook messages, texts, and blogging towards my 3 hours. Humans are a breed of pack animals which means it is in our nature to be with and connect with other humans. I could feel the power of this connection while on the phone or in person. But for me, the screen based communication only made me feel worse.
3. Exercise - You probably would have guessed this one! Heck I have a Health Education degree, did you really think I was going to let it slide? In all honesty incorporating exercise does so much for you that I would be doing it an injustice in trying to explain all the benefits here. In short it releases feel good chemicals into your brain, boosts your self-esteem, and gives you more much needed energy during a phase of depression.
4. Sleep Schedule – When you are depressed does your body seem to be in constant shut-down mode? Since life seems so unbearable the easy way out is to sleep it away. What I did was force myself to get up and go to bed at the same time each day. I told myself that it did not matter how I spent my time, but the last thing I was going to do was to continue to waste it on sleep! So I got up and sat in front of the TV with a bowl of popcorn for a few days until things started to ease over to the point where I felt like I could start doing #3 above. Think of sleep as the bad guy when in a depression, if you continue with a bad sleep pattern it becomes almost like an addiction, which I’m betting you know how hard those are to break (legal addictions of course)!
5. Eat Well – Did I mention that the popcorn from #4 above was un-buttered? I am normally a health freak but just like anyone else in a depression I stopped being myself and sought after comfort foods. The problem is that I began to eat too much comfort food. Then not only did I start to feel bad on the inside (mentally), but I literally started to feel bad on the inside (physically) due to the crap I was pumping into my system. Getting back on a healthy diet will give your brain a good balance of vitamins and minerals needed to keep a constructive state of mental health.
6. Faith – The final behavior that really helped me pull through was having faith (not necessarily in a religious sense). By realizing this depression was just a period of life that would soon pass it shortened its length. I think that it is common for most depressed people to wonder if things will ever get better. Well they will! As Buddhist monks would tell us, nothing lasts forever.
“Nothing is forever except change.” ― Siddhārtha Gautama
There is no greater truth than that. Imagine yourself five years ago, one year ago, one month ago… Do you see how different things were? Think about your friends, your work situation, where you were living, etc. All of those things are in a constant state of change, including you! So no matter how bad things are right now you have to have faith and know that things will get better. Know that these feelings and situations will blow over like a house of cards.
1. Depression is normal, all people go through changing periods of life. Sometimes you will be on cloud nine and sometimes you will be between a rock and a hard spot.
I don’t think anybody’s continually happy, uh, except idiots, you know. You know, you have to have little moments of depression. – Rube Goldberg
2. Depression is a pain in the donkey. But you can get yourself out of it like I have by adding these small manageable behaviors into your daily routine. (If these steps don’t work after a week or two, then you certainly need to see a professional whether it repulses you or not!)
If you want even more insight to help you get you through, the following three post will help:
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