How to Deal with Depression: From drugs to exercise to experimental therapies, people are breaking through isolation and making the biggest difference in their depression come true.
Why is it so hard to deal with depression?
Depression drains your energy, hope, and motivation, making it harder for you to take steps to help you feel better. Sometimes, even thinking about things you need to do to feel better, like exercising or spending time with friends, can seem tiring or impossible to take action.
This is the 22nd Catch of recovery from depression: The things that help the most are the things that are the hardest to do. But there is a big difference between the difficult and the impossible. While it may not be quick or easy to recover from depression, you have more control than you think – even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. The key is to start small and build from there. You may not have a lot of energy, but you should have enough energy to use all your reserves, for example, to take a walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one.
Taking the first step is always the hardest. But for example, going for a walk or getting up and dancing to your favorite music is something you can do right now. And it can significantly boost your mood and energy for a few hours – long enough to trigger a second healing step, such as preparing a mood-boosting meal or arranging a date with an old friend. By taking the following small but positive steps every day, you will soon lift the heavy fog of depression and feel happier, healthier, and more hopeful again.
Depression: The Silent Epidemic
At the heart of the tragedy of depression is the failure of many people to seek help. Around 300 million people worldwide suffer from this mood disorder, and it affects their relationships, jobs, and even puts their lives in danger. According to the World Health Organization, about 20 percent of all adults in the United States will experience depression at some point in their lives, and two-thirds of cases are women. Yet for all the people who have it, few talk about it and many feel isolated. These 16 people decided to talk and explain how they’re coping with depression: Here How to Deal with Depression? and their best tips for weathering this storm.
1. “I’m going for a run outside”
Alice Roberts of Salt Lake City, Utah, says that before she discovered running, her depression made her binge at home, in bed, and binge-watching Netflix all day. One day she forced herself to take a little jog outside. The combination of sunlight, fresh air, and stimulation creates a powerful antidepressant. “I feel so much better when I start running and it’s easier to go next time,” she says. “So many days off and yet another struggle.”
2. “I use a happy light”
Getting a daily dose of morning sunlight has been proven in many research studies to help those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) cope with depression, especially in the fall and winter. But while sunlight certainly helped Mary Rogers, winters didn’t provide enough light at her home in Columbus, Ohio. Then her therapist suggested she use a “happy light,” a large artificial light that mimics the spectrum of light found in natural sunlight on days she can’t go outside. “This has been key for me, going out and using my light every day, medicine, prayer, music, and playing with my kids,” she says.
3. “I keep a daily gratitude diary”
Counting your blessings may sound like mundane advice to someone suffering from the suffocating darkness of depression, but sometimes the most effective solutions are the simplest, says Natalie Nash of Seattle, Washington. Nash had long struggled with how to deal with depression when she decided to keep a 30-day gratitude journal. She thought she might help some; She was surprised at how much of a difference it made to mood. The diary, along with the medication, helped her break the cycle of isolation and loneliness she had fallen into. “When I have hard days, I try to focus on what is going well and what brings me joy. It also helps me recognize blessings and answers to prayers,” she says.
4. “I am on ketamine therapy”
The drug ketamine, which has been used as an anesthetic for decades, is being investigated for the treatment of severe depression, particularly depression that has not responded to other treatments. “Ketamine has absolutely changed my life,” says Marshall L., of Los Angeles, who says his depression was so severe that he stayed at home for six years. “I take an infusion every three to four weeks and it feels like the fog has lifted. I have a clarity and willpower that I never had before.” She can now hold a job, is in a relationship, and works with a therapist to develop coping skills to prevent future depressive episodes after stopping treatments.
5. “I used martial arts to change my thought patterns”
While many people with depression can’t pinpoint a definitive cause of their suffering, some depressions are triggered by traumatic life events. Scott Aksamit, of Englewood, Colorado, discovered it himself after going through a major depressive episode following the death of his brother. How to deal with depression? He decided to try martial arts as a way to vent his anger and was surprised to discover how much it helped his mood as well. However, the effects went beyond exercise. “My coach taught me the power of positive thinking and I was able to use it to reshape how I think about my life,” she says.
6. “I take a daily antidepressant pill”
When it comes to depression, medications work especially well when combined with other treatments, such as exercise and therapy, according to a study published in The Lancet. It’s not a perfect solution and some people find relief more than others, but taking a prescription antidepressant was a game-changer for Denise, McNeill of Utah Vineyard, who says she’s battled mental illness her entire life. “I feel lucky that the meds helped me right away,” she says. “It’s an inherited condition in my family, so I’ll be on medication for the rest of my life and I’m totally fine with that.”
7. “I take a shower and get dressed every morning”
One of the primary symptoms of depression is difficulty doing regular, everyday tasks such as self-care. And not taking care of your physical needs can increase depression and create a self-reinforcing cycle. Ivie Cosens of Minneapolis, Minnesota first noticed this pattern when she went to college and was on her own—things started slipping through the cracks before her mother reminded her to take care of herself. Now, by making sure that she takes a shower and is dressed in real clothes (no pajamas or sweats!) even if she’s doing nothing else that day, she says she stops that cycle before it starts. “Simple things like getting ready for the day and making sure I eat three meals a day help me a lot because I feel like I’ve accomplished something,” she explains. “When I’m feeling depressed, I review this self-care checklist and make sure I’m doing everything I can.”
8. “I eat an ultra-clean diet”
When his doctors told Dennis Legori of Columbus, Ohio, that he was recovering from cancer, Legori assumed the worst was over. But her oncologist told her that post-chemo depression is a real thing and is more common than people think. Of course, her mood started to drop and she decided to take steps to correct it right away, starting by following a diet of whole foods. “My diet includes lots of greens, berries, and smoothies, and I limit red meat, avoid soda, and drink lots of water,” she says. Liguori also exercises for 30 minutes every day. He now feels better than ever and even states that he has less gray hair than before.
9. “I Use EMDR Therapy”
This unconventional treatment for depression was exactly what Lindsey Letendre of Farmington, Minnesota needed when she suffered a bout of severe depression after the birth of her son. EMDR stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, and the therapy uses hand touch and eye movements to help people process traumatic or painful memories. While Letendre had previously struggled with depression, the postpartum period was so intense that it prompted her to seek alternatives. “I still struggle with depression, but I’ve found EMDR to be the most helpful form of therapy for me,” she explains.
10. “I got the correct diagnosis”
Not all depressions are the same, and there are many mental health diagnoses that are often brought together under the umbrella of depression. The key to finding an effective treatment for Rachel Larson of Glendive, Minnesota was getting an accurate diagnosis. For nearly a decade, she went through periods of truly depressed mood, but during her first pregnancy she got really bad—and that’s when she finally got an answer to her extreme mood swings. “It seems I suffer from bipolar depression with aspects of both depression and bipolar disorder, and taking medication for bipolar disorder instead of regular antidepressants made all the difference,” she says. “I am now going to counseling and taking medication and am much happier!”
11. “I make sleep my number 1 priority”
Janette Kudin of Idaho Falls, Idaho, knows all about sleep deprivation as a mother of four children as young as six, including a one-month-old baby. Thanks to her postpartum depression, she also understands the mental fog and dark mood of mental illness and the toll it takes. Only recently did she discover the link between sleep and depression. “I have postpartum anxiety and depression and I’ve found that one of the best things I can do is get enough sleep,” she says. “I force myself to sleep at every opportunity, even if it means putting off chores or other tasks. Having a newborn right now means I have to let my older kids watch a show so I can take a nap while the baby is sleeping. These are things I don’t really like to do, but if I get too tired, I’ll screw up and it’ll be worse for everyone.”
12. “I do yoga twice a week”
Monica Haines of Phoenix, Arizona has been treated for depression for 14 years; While meds certainly help, she says she found more relief when she started yoga. “What helps so much is that it teaches you to be there wherever you are and be kind to yourself,” she says. “Depression feels so unbearable that just coaching someone to self-acceptance, one moment at a time, is extremely helpful for me.” Another benefit is that her yoga classes take her away from home and with her friends, two other things that help her get depressed.
13. “I take CBD oil every day”
Cannabidiol oil is in vogue these days, with people using it for everything from pain relief to coping with their dog’s anxiety. April Olshavsky of Phoenix, Arizona decided to give it a try: She used it for chronic pain at first, but soon discovered that it also helped her chronic depression, and eventually replaced her antidepressant medication. “I take a low dose of 125mg of tincture by mouth daily as a preventative measure,” she explains. “I gave up on my prescription because I didn’t like how it numbed my mind, dulled all the emotions, and killed my sex drive. With CBD, I found that I could still feel my emotions and process them appropriately through tears, joy, and clearer thinking.
14. “I trust my family”
Katie Meier of Lancaster, Pennsylvania learned that she needs a multi-pronged approach to keeping her depression under control. She uses medication, exercise, and therapy, but she says it’s the loving support of her family that makes the biggest difference. “They listen and I can tell them anything,” she says. “I never feel like I have to hide anything. I can tell them if I’m having an anxiety attack if I’m taking my medication, if I need help, or if I just need to listen. Having them gives me so much relief and comfort.”
15. “I practice mindfulness”
Mindfulness is the practice of being consciously aware and present in your life and is an important antidote to the chronic distractions of our technology-driven society in particular. As well as recognizing negative moods earlier, Kevin Lynch of Edmonds, Washington can also help with depression by helping you see connections between how you feel and what you do. “For me, mindfulness has taught me that my depression is not something I can sweep under the rug. It’s important to accept that,” she says. sitting down, hanging out with my family, building things, brewing, my faith – it all sounds good. It’s like little things but all in all, working together has helped me fight my depression.”
16. “I connect with my spiritual side”
“For me, the most powerful cure for my depression is prayer,” says Tasha Kaye of Wenatchee, Washington. “I pray so hard! Being spiritually grounded and close to God gives me a much-needed breather.” It’s not just Kaye; according to a report published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, those who are spiritual and outwardly focused on religion and care about others (compared to introverts) are less likely to be depressed and show fewer symptoms when depressed.
You May Also Like>>
- What is Tourette’s syndrome? The symptoms and treatment methods
- What is Trigeminal Neuralgia? Symptoms and Treatment Methods
- What is TMS? What is the treatment for TMS?
- Anxiety Disorders: Types, Causes, Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatments
- World Health Organization: Depression
- The Lancet: “Comparative efficacy and acceptability of 21 antidepressant drugs for the acute treatment of adults with major depressive disorder: a systematic review and network meta-analysis”
- The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: “Risk for Depression When Spirituality Exceeds Religiosity”