Depression is difficult. Not just for the person experiencing the depression, but for those around them. I have had bouts of depression as I assume many people have, but for the most part my depression episodes were short lived. I have close friends and family members who live on a daily basis with depression. In some ways it is like walking on egg shells around them because you never know what you are going to get that day in terms of their mood. I dread picking up the phone and hearing a blah “Hello” on the other end. It makes me depressed. I realize that’s not fair and I am working to change that, but at the same time I have to look out for #1–ME. Maybe that’s selfish and maybe if I were an all around happy go lucky person who didn’t have anxiety or ever experience depressive episodes than it would be different. I wonder if those type of people can just shrug of their friend or family member’s blahs after they get off the phone.
I am certainly no expert on depression. I don’t think my degree in psychology even counts. But these are some tips to ease the battle of depression that most people can find just by googling it.
1. Ask for help. Don’t isolate yourself. Let family and friends know when you are in rough spot and let them know how they can help. Maybe just getting out of the house for an excursion or having a friend come over to watch reality tv will help lift your spirits.
2. Find a good therapist. One that actually listens, supports, redirects, encourages, cares, and doesn’t just press medication into your hand and send you on your way.
3. EXERCISE! I realize that those with depression have days/weeks/months where they can barely function. Getting off the couch is like sticking a knife in your eye. But once you get motivated, it can make a huge difference in depression symptoms. (Next blog post: How exercise helps depressive symptoms.)
4. Join a support group. You are not alone in this and sometimes it helps to talk with others who also battle this disease.
5. Continue doing something you enjoy every day. A warm bath. A crossword puzzle. Knit. Funny tv show. Hike in the woods. Whatever brings you joy normally, continue to do it.
6. Eat a healthy diet. Avoiding foods high in sugars (even starchy foods are high in sugars), alcohol, and fat will make you even more depressed. (I will cover how healthy eating affects depressive symptoms in the next blog post as well.)
7. Keep a daily routine. Don’t over schedule, but don’t under schedule and sit around feeling bad and blaming yourself.
8. Get an adequate amount of sleep. Once again….not too much, and not too little. I think 8 hours is the average. (Have trouble sleeping? Check my post on sleep.)
9. Get outside for fresh air and Vitamin D (sunlight) or get a sun lamp to mimic sunlight in the winter.
Read this blogger’s post for a first hand account of someone with deep depression. Maybe then you’ll have a better understanding of what depression feels like. Riding It Out.
In the meantime, whether you battle depression or not, eat well and exercise often.