Coping With Depression
Have you had days where you didn't want to get out of bed? Days where you felt that you had nothing else left to give? You're not alone. USA Statistics reports that depression and manic depression strike one woman in every five and one man in 10 at least once in their lives, while an estimated six to seven percent of adolescents in the United States suffer from some depressive illness.
Depression is classified as a physical illness of both body and brain. At the present time, depression is conventionally treated with medications – commonly known as antidepressants – and psychotherapy. Acupuncture, behavioral therapy, changes in diet and lifestyle, and counseling are also accepted treatments.
There is a real difference between someone who feels constantly tired, lethargic, unable to function, gains or loses weight, cannot sleep or concentrate, experiences memory loss and may also feel stuck or even suicidal and the person who is sensitive to the trials and tribulations of life and has the blues.
In my experience as a therapist, I have found that depressed persons battling depression for long or short term have similarities. These similarities include sensitivity, creativity and intelligence. They often display personalities that have not truly found their niche. A deep sense of unexpressed anger and resentment at feeling unable to express oneself creatively and take real control of one's life is often present. This may be accompanied by a sense of helplessness and hopelessness as depressed persons feel that their idealism, individuality and dreams are not reflected in society or in their own lives.
Many have not yet found themselves or their way and are exhausted emotionally and spiritually as they continue to accept less than what they want or need from life. The question is: Isn't it time for us to look at depression in more depth and not only from a clinical point of view? Might we agree that we each have a responsibility to understand ourselves more fully and realize that – despite labels, categories or medical definitions – we are each unique individuals?
Help for Escaping Depression
As anyone who has experienced it knows, one does not simply snap out of depression. Help often is needed in one form or another. Use the following tips with other treatments to begin the climb out of the deep abyss of the depressive state:
- Think and wear color. Go for colors that make you feel good and give you a lift. Yellow, orange, green, white, purple, pink and blue are good choices. No sinking in black.
- Follow this simple meditation; it takes only a few minutes. Try it daily. Imagine that you are surrounded, bathing and floating in your favorite color and light (or whatever color you feel you need at this moment). Take long, slow, deep breaths from your stomach, and imagine that you are breathing that color all through your body until you feel full. Remember that it's not necessary to see the color in vivid details in your mind – just the basic outline and feeling. Even using the name of it is enough. Just a few minutes can give you a real lift.
- Express yourself: feelings first, thoughts second. Talk to someone, even your own reflection in a mirror, or write things down. Find other ways to express yourself. Crying and expressing feelings of anger, pain and despair in a safe, comfortable space can bring real relief.
- Self soothe, massage, love and nurture your body. Touch yourself in loving ways. Allow you to feel good.
- For every negative thought you have, follow it with a higher, positive one. Repeat positive and powerful words such as "I love myself completely without condition" and "I am a free powerful being." Write your own positive affirmations, and use them often.
- Move around. Make time for 20 minutes of exercise in some form every day, even if it's just a walk. Make the effort, even if you don't feel like it.
- Ask for and accept help from others. Know that depression does have a beginning, middle and an end, and that you can come through it. See depression as a small slice of a big pie that you are focused on and feel stuck in, but know that all the rest of that pie is there to live, taste and experience.
- Build up your self-esteem daily even in small ways. Listen to uplifting music, find something that makes you smile and get plenty of fresh air and light each day.
- Cut down an alcohol, meat, sugar, stimulants and processed food. Get back to wholesome basics. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables and grains, and drink plenty of room temperature water.
- Allow yourself to sleep. Take each day as it comes. Don't try to solve all problems in one day. Break patterns, habits and routines. Change your thinking to expect the best and the unexpected.
It is important to know that – even in your darkest, deepest moments – you are not alone. Millions of other people are sharing your same experience. Remember that depression needs gentle, growing awareness of who you are and what you need, rather than simply denial and positive thoughts. In your darkest moments, you are journeying not only through depression but also through the unknown within yourself. There is life before and after depression, and one day you may well look back and realize the value of the experience.