Depression is a very unpleasant disease. It interferes with living fully and enjoying life. Fortunately, depression can be cured. We will talk about this later. And for starters – a small test. How accurately do the following statements describe your condition?
- You feel miserable all the time. This continues for at least two weeks.
- Nothing really makes you happy, including hobbies, favorite food, and hanging out with friends. As if all the positive emotions had been sucked out of you.
- You have no strength for anything. Sometimes you find it difficult even to get out of bed.
- You cannot properly concentrate on business and get tired very quickly.
- You are not able to think as clearly as before.
- It seems to you that life has suddenly lost its colors, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel and will not be.
- You often feel guilty and think about your own worthlessness.
Do you agree with most of the statements? It is early to diagnose, but you have every reason to suspect you are depressed. Here are some tips to help you get out of the black hole.
Tip one: don’t blame yourself
“Come on, you have no reason to be sad. You are strong, finally pull yourself together! ” – can be heard from relatives, friends, colleagues. Unfortunately, many still do not understand that depression is not just a bad mood or psychological immaturity, but a serious mental disorder that is accompanied by physical and biochemical changes in the brain.
Apathy, anhedonia, lack of energy are not your fault. It’s just how your brain works right now. A source
Depression can result from a combination of several factors. Among them are chronic stress, somatic diseases, traumatic events, genetic predisposition. Whatever the cause of your depression, it’s important to understand that you are not to blame. This is a disease, not weakness, laziness or lack of will.
Second tip: see a specialist
When our teeth hurt, we go to the dentist. With a high fever, runny nose and cough, we turn to a therapist. But for some reason we are in no hurry to visit a psychiatrist, even if we understand that not everything is in order with our psyche. But in vain.
If you are constantly crying and do not want to live, you need to go to a specialist. He will figure out what is really happening to you (it may turn out that you do not have depression, but, for example, anxiety disorder), and prescribe appropriate treatment.
You complain to the optometrist about your decreased vision, and you can calmly tell the psychiatrist that you have lost your joy. A source
This raises the question: to whom to sign up? To a psychologist, psychotherapist or psychiatrist? We recommend starting with a psychiatrist – a specialist who has a higher medical education. He will diagnose and, if necessary, prescribe medications. It is possible that a psychiatrist will advise you to visit a psychotherapist as well.
Tip three: don’t give up on your medications
If you have severe or moderate depression, your psychiatrist will most likely prescribe medication for you. No one can force you to take medication by force, but it is best not to ignore your doctor’s advice. Do not be afraid that antidepressants will change your personality or cause addiction. The devil is not so terrible as he is painted.
In simple terms, people with depression have hormonal imbalances in the brain. The task of drugs is to restore it, in particular to increase the level of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. The body will rebuild itself and will continue to maintain balance on its own.
There are many myths around antidepressants. Don’t believe these horror stories. Medicines are your helpers, not enemies. A source
Like other medicines, antidepressants can have side effects. Sometimes they are so minor that they can be tolerated in order to get rid of depression. Sometimes very serious – in this case, you will need to change the drug or reduce the dose (but only after consulting a doctor).
Medicines will ease your suffering, but don’t count on them alone. Depression takes an effort to heal.
Tip four: identify the source of stress
The limbic system of the brain is responsible for emotions. It is she who reacts to danger, releasing stress hormones into the bloodstream and forcing you to make a “fight or flight” decision. It is an important biological mechanism for survival. However, it is not designed to keep you stressed all the time.
In chronic stress, the limbic system gives off an alarm without stopping, and this failure can lead to depression. To heal, you need to turn off the continuously screaming signaling in your brain.
First of all, you need to determine what exactly is causing you mental pain. The source of stress can be anything – overly stressful work, family turmoil, tyrant boss, unfriendly coworkers, toxic buddy.
Often the hardest part is finding the source of stress and saying to yourself: yes, this is preventing me from living. A source
The second step is to try to get this splinter out. Think about how you can make a difference. Of course, leaving your tyrant husband or quitting your job isn’t easy. But this is much easier than spending your whole life in anguish and anxiety.
No sudden movements needed; just sit down, think it over and make the most detailed plan for your salvation. Even if you do not immediately decide to implement it, the first steps have been taken – and this alone will bring you relief.
Of course, there are things that you cannot influence, for example, the death of a loved one. Here it remains only to go through the pain, to accept what happened and in the end to overcome the grief. You will feel better over time, perhaps with the help of a therapist and antidepressants.
Tip five: watch your thoughts
When depressed, we become hostages of automatic negative thoughts. They only appear to be true, but in reality they are false beliefs. Let’s look at some of the common pitfalls of thinking.
All or nothing. You can’t get through to a friend and say: “Nobody needs me.” Or quarrel with your loved one and accuse him of “never listening to you.” This is clearly not the case.
Reading minds. Your friend replied dryly to the greeting, and now you have been tormented for the third day, trying to understand what offended him. Sound familiar? So, this is a completely meaningless exercise: you are not a telepathic and you can hardly guess what is going on in someone else’s head. Most likely, you have nothing to do with it. Maybe this person is just tired or he was just scolded by the boss.
Catastrophization. You made a small mistake in the report, and your brain is already painting gloomy pictures: dismissal, futile search for a new job, homeless old age and a lonely death under the bridge. Agree, all this is too unlikely.
During depression, we look at everything through a negative filter. A source
Hanging labels. People with depression tend to stigmatize themselves. Get rid of this habit. Failure in recent competitions does not turn you into a “loser”. A child’s discomfort does not make you an “irresponsible mother.” If you have not yet managed to figure out something at a new job, this does not mean that you are “dumb”.
Coping with depression requires changing the mindset that erodes you from the inside out. The next time you start labeling yourself, predicting horrors, or reading other people’s minds, remind yourself that these are just distortions of perception.
Sixth tip: use energy sparingly
With depression, performance decreases. You get tired very quickly. Motivation and rational thinking suffer. Every action that a healthy person does not cost almost any effort is given to you with great difficulty. What you could do in an hour before can now take a whole day, or even two. How to survive this period with the least loss?
Try to keep only the most important thing on your to-do list – what your life or someone else’s life depends on – and cross out the rest. Cancel meetings that drain you of energy, give up unnecessary part-time work, ask loved ones to take on household chores.
You are low on energy and need to be conserved. A source
Break the remaining cases into very small steps. Let “open mail”, “read a message from a client”, “clarify information”, “write a response”, “send a letter” will be five different tasks. Praise yourself for every step you get. Now any action for you is a real victory.
Try making a clear and detailed plan for the next day in the evenings. Then in the morning you don’t have to load your brain with unnecessary work: you just need to follow the instructions. In addition, planning in itself calms the nervous system.
Seventh tip: top up your “bank account”
Imagine that your mental energy is a bank account. Then everything that you do during the day can be divided into two categories: income and expenses.
Expenses are, for example, morning packing, work, household chores … Income – laughter, reading, food, movement, sleep. If you are overtaken by depression, you need not only to spend your resources more economically, but also to replenish your account more often. There are many ways to restore your energy balance. Here are a few of them.
Physical activity. Exercise stimulates the production of serotonin, norepinephrine and endorphin, helps reduce anxiety levels, and has a positive effect on sleep quality. Of course, when you’re depressed, it can be hard to even get out of bed. But if you can still move, move. And it is not at all necessary to train for several hours in the fitness room, even a ten-minute walk to the store will be beneficial.
Research shows that aerobic exercise such as swimming, dancing, running or walking has antidepressant effects. A source
Warm bath. Helps slightly relieve stress, relax and improve mood at the end of a hard day.
Meditation. Relieves symptoms of depression, helps to reduce anxiety levels, achieve a state of calm, harmony and concentration. True, for meditation to work, you need to do it every day. And one more thing: in some conditions (prepsychotic), it can provoke a deterioration.
Communicate with those who recharge your battery. We usually do not seek social contact during depression. At the same time, we still need support. We offer this strategy: limit communication with people who seem to suck energy out of you, but leave around you those with whom you feel good and who can support you morally (by the way, these are not always friends or relatives). Communication in an online group, where people share their ways to cope with depression, can also bring relief.
Read more about what depression is and how to get out of it in our new product “From depression”
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