If you suffer from depression, your condition is not hopeless, although it usually feels that way. You may be surprised by the number of antidotes there are to combat the condition.
Daily structure and purpose. Many therapists recommend lists for depressed people—items to be accomplished during the day. This exercise gives structure to your schedule and helps you avoid wallowing around and doing nothing, a state that contributes to depression.
Healthy diet. Your diet should be healthy and natural, providing you with enough calories to feed your body. Your food should not be heavy and sweet. This only makes you lethargic, adding to feelings of depression.
Sunshine. One of the known treatments for depression is exposure to sunshine or even ultraviolet light. Depression that strikes in the cold, dark months of the year is called “seasonal affective disorder.” Whatever the time of year, plan to spend some time outdoors in the sunshine.
Outdoor activities. It’s important that you spend some time outdoors in nature, which is the source of your being. A walk in the woods may not always be available, but a small city park can give you respite from urban life and relief of depression. It helps to spend time with a pet or other animal.
Exercise. Studies consistently underscore the importance of exercise in combatting depression. When studies compare the treatment outcomes of exercise programs with those of meditation or psychotherapy, exercise wins hands down.
Social contacts. Interaction with others is critically important to good health and longevity. People who feel connected to others have been shown to have lower levels of anxiety and depression.
Personal hygiene. Keeping the body and clothes clean and fresh has a calming effect on the mind. It’s known that depressed people tend to neglect personal hygiene. A shower and change of clothes freshen the spirit.
Sleep. Getting enough sleep at night refreshes you and restores emotional balance. Sleeplessness can magnify your perception of problems and darken your mood.
No alcohol or illicit drugs. Alcohol is often thought to elevate mood because it dulls inhibitions and lets us feel free to say and do things we wouldn’t otherwise. This is misleading. When depressed people use alcohol to dull their pain, the mood shift is temporary. followed by depressed feelings. Over time, the effect can be marked.
Meditation. Meditation is a way of abandoning anxiety, focusing on the now, and cleansing the mind. It’s usually recommended that you practice at least twenty minutes per day.
Reading. Reading is a way to remove yourself temporarily from painful realities and transmit your thoughts to a different plane. Fiction is particularly effective in stopping the obsessive brain activity typical of depression.
Music. Pleasant, moving music calms the mind, moves it to another plane. If the music is soothing, it acts like a tranquillizer or mood elevator.
Reliance on a Higher Power. Transferring the burden of depressive thoughts to a Higher Power is a useful method to relieve depression. The Higher Power need not have a name or personality. You need only ask yourself, “Do I acknowledge that this Universe contains a power greater than myself?”
Gratitude. Studies show that people who count their blessings, particularly ones who can express gratitude for good fortune, increase their happiness and decrease levels of depression. They do not dwell on what happened, who said what, who did what, and how unfair it all was.
Helping others. The idea of helping others relates to “social contacts,” except that in the act of helping others, you take your mind off yourself. In addition, your feelings of self-worth are encouraged by selfless deeds.
Therapy. Talk therapy or group counseling can speed your recovery from depression. By airing personal problems, talking about your lowered self-esteem, and describing the losses in your life, you connect with others and expose morbid thoughts to much-needed fresh air.
Anger management. Some therapists believe that depression is anger turned inward. Since much anger is repressed, uncovering it may require professional help. Only then can its toxic effects be neutralized.
Prescribed antidepressants. The ability of clinically prescribed medication to relieve depression is a valid, documented method of treatment. If you choose this route, you should select a physician with experience and knowledge of antidepressant use.
Hope for the future. While it’s important to live in the “now,” it’s equally important to have pleasurable events to look forward to: school or career success, a cruise, the arrival of a baby, or a host of other events. While false expectations should be avoided, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging happy feelings about the future.
Contrary to the belief of many sufferers, medication is not the only answer. All of the above methods have been proven to relieve depression.