Simple definition of Depression presented by the American Psychiatric Association describes the impact of depression in our daily lives. Many are good at hiding the symptoms only to struggle on their own and some find it difficult to hide the way depression has integrated itself into their lives. Because each individual situation varies, it is difficult to put a timeline on how long it may take someone to treat depression but there are steps that can be taken to help manage some symptoms.
One of the biggest hurdles of depression is that it completely changes the daily routine we have set to continue feeling productive, adding onto the feeling of worthlessness. Creating habits or pushing ourselves to celebrate victories, regardless of how small it is, slowly builds on regaining some of the control we lost. The issue with starting with a huge project is finding the motivation to push ourselves when we are already finding ourselves struggling to get out of bed. I suggest start small. If you know you can’t easily walk 3 miles, set 1 mile as your goal and anything above that is bonus. It is so important to celebrate these “small” victories because they help us build ourselves up and accept the challenges of bigger tasks. Here I have included some steps that may be helpful to begin your journey into finding a newer and happier version of you.
- Breathe: One of the most underrated activities of our daily lives. We are breathing enough to move around but the lasting impact of deep breathing benefits every part of our body as well as calm and center our minds.
- Exercise: This is such a huge part of depression and stress management but I feel that it is the easiest to let go of. We identify exercise with being fit but we rarely define what “fit” means to us. Exercise helps you manage your physical health as well as mental health. Exercise helps us feel more energized and that in-of-itself is a huge accomplishment for someone struggling with depression. If you do not have the energy to get out of bed, here is a link to 5 minute yoga stretches in bed to try out.
- Social support: The shame of not being able to “get out of this funk” prevents us from reaching out to others but it is an extremely important part of any healing journey. Humans are social creatures– we need to know where we belong. Isolating yourself will only prevent you from resources that are available to you. Reach out to someone you trust. If you are not ready to talk about what you are going through, maybe watching a movie together will help continue to nurture that relationship and your sense of belonging, even when you don’t feel like talking.
- Emergency contact: There are multiple hotlines set up to help you talk about what you are experiencing. If you are not ready to talk to your loved ones, you can talk to someone knowledgeable about depression that is unbiased. National Hopeline Network, 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433), includes individuals who are available to discuss difficulties of depression, even if you are not experiencing any suicidal ideation.
- Medical treatment: Yes, talk to a professional. If the depressive symptoms are overwhelming enough to interfere with your daily activities, talking to your doctor about possible imbalance in chemicals within is a healthy option. We wouldn’t dare tell anyone with diabetes to not take their insulin… why punish ourselves for not creating enough serotonin? Counseling sessions can help with breaking down overwhelming projects into smaller and more manageable tasks when we are struggling. Counseling can also help with presenting objective perspective when we find everything about ourselves to be a shadow of who we used to be.
You don’t have to do this alone.