Many people around the world and throughout the U.S. will struggle with depression of some form or another at some point in their lifetime. It is often characterized by feelings of hopelessness or sadness. It’s one of the most common mental health issues that people face and, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, can affect more than 16.1 million U.S. adults in any given year. Though it can be easy to feel isolated when facing depression, it’s important to keep in mind you are not alone and there are steps you can take to feel more like yourself again. Start here.
- Care for your body. PsychCentral recommends maintaining healthy habits as a good way to make depression symptoms more manageable. Keeping up with an exercise regimen is a good way to increase endorphins in your body and improve your mood. Inadequate sleep can also leave you feeling down, and can keep your body from having the time and energy to repair itself and recover from stress, so getting plenty of shut eye is a good way to help yourself feel better. Last, but definitely not least, what you put into your body is important. Staying hydrated and eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and food high in Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids can improve your mood and brain health and leave you feeling that much better.
- Seek out fun. A common symptom of depression is a loss of interest in things you once loved. It can be easy to fall into a cycle of feeling too down, and too exhausted to pursue things that could bring you joy. According to Lisa Firestone Ph.D., one of the best things you can do for yourself in the midst of depression is fight this urge. Seek out fun until you find it. This might mean you have to force yourself to have fun, but it can help break you out of your cycle of depression. If you find nothing seems to be lifting your spirits, try a new hobby or past time until you strike something that works.
- Get perspective on negativity. When people suffer from depression, they often experience a pattern of exaggerated, self-destructive negative thoughts. They tend to internalize these thought patterns and begin to believe they represent an accurate picture of who they are. This was coined as the critical inner voice by Dr. Robert Firestone and often, this voice can hold people back from breaking free of their depression. It’s important to take a step back and put this kind of negative thinking into perspective. Lisa Firestone says the first step toward perspective is to recognize these thoughts as invasive and external. You must being to ignore them and work to build yourself up by practicing compassion for yourself. In the end, you are your own greatest weapon against these toxic thought patterns.
- Look for structure. Making a plan part of your every day routine, according to Linda Esposito LCSW, is a simple way to fight feelings of helplessness that can go hand-in-hand with depression. Creating a schedule and a tangible routine for yourself can help you feel more active and engaged with your life and help you recapture a sense of control. She recommends planning out how you want to spend your day with a physical schedule and reviewing how you actually spend your time and how you felt throughout the day to help you judge how you can best spend your time.
- Talk to a therapist. Never forget- you are not alone. If you are experiencing persistent symptoms of depression, talking to a therapist is a great way to find coping strategies that work best for you. Reaching out for help is an admirable step to take and talking to therapist can help give you clarity and balance.