Dealing with depression isn’t easy. Approximately 1 in 10 Americans reports suffering from depression which means over 32 million people in the US report having depression.
It can be one of the most crippling psychological problems to deal with. At its worst, depression can keep you in bed running thoughts through your mind like “What’s the point in living anymore?” or “No one will care if I’m gone, so why should I continue living with this pain?” At its best, it can steal joyful moments away from you leaving you with little motivation throughout the day.
Navigating depression is difficult, but there is hope although it may seem impossible to grasp. Luckily there are ways to deal with depression and escape the painful grip of its symptoms.
1. Give Yourself Permission to Feel
One of the most challenging parts of depression is that you can begin to turn on yourself. Sometimes it can feel like you are being a drag for no reason. Maybe you have more than most people and you still aren’t satisfied. Maybe you feel like you will never be enough. Maybe you live in fear of being exposed as a failure. What the heck is the matter with you?
Well, you’re depressed. Depression is hard for any person to deal with. Some of the strongest and most confident people I know have struggled with severe depression for long periods of time. To feel bad about feeling bad leads to a cycle that can get worse with time. By allowing yourself to feel things like sadness, loneliness, and discouragement you are giving yourself permission to be human. Those feelings are helpful and used to signal the need for connection and support.
The more a person denies the feelings of depression, the longer it takes to realize that they can use help and support. The longer it takes to realize that you can use support, the longer you are stuck in the cycle of depression.
2. Get Out and Eat Right
Get out of the house. There is growing research that supports exercising at least 20 – 30 minutes a day can significantly reduce depressive symptoms.
Some research suggests that exercise has comparable effects to reducing depressive symptoms as depression medications. Exercise is a great way to fight depression, but getting out of the house in general, whether it be hanging out with friends or taking a walk around the park, can help keep depressive symptoms at bay.
Not only will getting exercise help with fighting depression, but so will eating right. Staying away from foods that are processed and high in fat can help you avoid feeling sluggish or suffering from the crash that comes from eating refined sugars.
3. Make Connections and Establish Support
Another difficult part of depression is feeling alone. No matter how many people you interact with in a day, you can still feel like no one is there for you. It can seem as if no one can understand what you are going through, or worse, no one cares to understand. Ironically, even if you do have people in your life who care, because of the depression, you push them away which leaves you feeling more isolated and depressed.
Making attempts at pushing through the feelings of isolation and connecting with a few people can help tremendously. It is important to share your feelings of depression with people you trust. If you are not used to sharing your feelings, pick one person that you trust and share with them a summary (maybe two to three sentences) of how you are feeling. You might be surprised by their response. I wouldn’t expect immediate relief from the depressive symptoms, but over time, as you build more trust with someone and allow yourself to share more, healing happens.
4. Seek a Professional
If you have been dealing with depression for a while now and feel like you are just spinning your wheels trying to find relief from your depression, then seek out professional help. Therapists are trained to help people who struggle with depression. They go through years of training, and some have years of experience in helping people journey through their depression to find hope and healing. One of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself is therapy when struggling with something as difficult as depression.
Depression is incredibly painful, but there is hope. Fighting depression involves using every bit of energy that you have. Some ways of fighting depression are easier than others. Picking out healthy food at a grocery store is certainly easier than running a few miles or trying to grow relationships, but eating well is a step in the right direction. Every step towards fighting depression matters no matter how small or large the step. Keep pushing forward.