by Carlene Townley
According to The National Institute of Mental Health, depression affects about 12 million women each year — twice as many as men. While everyone has “down” days once in a while, persistent feelings of sadness, guilt, hopelessness or loss of interest in activities you normally enjoy can all be signs of depression. Treatment can range from lifestyle changes such as mindfulness to talk therapy to medications or a combination of them all for an integrative approach.
The key to depression recovery is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Draw upon whatever resources you have. You may not have much energy, but you probably have enough to take a short walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one.
Take things one day at a time and reward yourself for each accomplishment. The steps may seem small, but they’ll quickly add up. And for all the energy you put into your depression recovery, you’ll get back much more in return.
Here are some tips to help you make yourself a priority when dealing with depression.
- Cultivate supportive relationships: Getting the support you need plays a big role in lifting the fog of depression and keeping it away. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression, but the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. However, isolation and loneliness make depression even worse, so maintaining your close relationships and social activities are important.The thought of reaching out to even close family members and friends can seem overwhelming. You may feel ashamed, too exhausted to talk, or guilty for neglecting the relationship. Remind yourself that this is the depression talking. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help. And remember, it’s never too late tobuild new friendships and improve your support network.
- Be more active: Don’t withdraw from life. Socializing can improve your mood. Keeping in touch with friends and family means you have someone to talk to when you feel low. Take up some form of exercise. There’s evidence that exercise can help lift your mood. If you haven’t exercised for a while, start gently by walking for 20 minutes every day.
- Challenge your negative thinking: Depression puts a negative spin on everything, including the way you see yourself, the situations you encounter, and your expectations for the future. But you can’t break out of this pessimistic mind frame by “just thinking positive.” Happy thoughts or wishful thinking won’t cut it. Rather, the trick is to replace negative thoughts with more balanced thoughts. Read Challenging Negative Self-Talk
- Develop a routine: When people feel down, they can get into poor sleep patterns, staying up late and sleeping during the day. Try to get up at your normal time and stick to your routine as much as possible. Not having a routine can affect your eating. You may stop cooking regular meals, eat snacks throughout the day instead or miss breakfast because you’re still in bed.
- Practice relaxation techniques: A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation. See Relaxation Techniques
- Know when to seek additional support: If you find your depression getting worse and worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak. Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can feel better.