Depression is a challenging condition that robs people of their energy and optimism. It can make even getting out of bed or dressing up for work seem impossible. People may isolate themselves, lose interest in everything, and feel overwhelmed by loneliness and despair.
Dr. Nikos E. Degleris, a neuropsychiatrist and professor of psychotherapy at Paris V University in France, says, “We all have moments when we’re feeling down. But when this state persists for more than two weeks, it’s crucial to consult a professional.” Unfortunately, statistics show that only half of those who show signs of depression seek early treatment. Many wait too long before consulting an expert.
Additionally, even when patients do consult professionals, they don’t always receive the combined medication and counseling treatment often required, mostly due to financial constraints.
Regardless of the treatment one may be undergoing, Dr. Degleris offers some suggestions to help manage depressive symptoms:
- Remind Yourself it Will Pass: The symptoms of depression typically last six to eight months without treatment and less with it. Continually tell yourself that your condition is temporary and things will get better, which will help ease your fears and despair.
- Be Kind to Yourself: When you think about your situation and try to uplift yourself, use the same calm and understanding tone you’d use to console a good friend. In challenging times, being your own friend and advisor is essential.
- Talk to Close Ones: As hard as it may seem, start openly discussing your feelings. The more you express yourself, the easier it becomes to understand and manage your emotions better.
- Avoid Rumination: Obsessing over the negative events in your life, also known as rumination, can worsen depressive symptoms and impair problem-solving skills. Instead, focus on seeking solutions. Also, frequently remind yourself that rumination does you no good.
- Find Something to Distract Your Mind: The human brain is wired to focus on one thing at a time. So, instead of being stuck in your room feeling miserable, consider volunteering for a social cause that benefits others. Doing so not only diverts your mind from negative thoughts but also boosts your self-esteem because you’re contributing to something meaningful.
6. Concentrate on Your Strengths: No matter how tough life gets, you didn’t get to this point by accident. You’ve undoubtedly achieved some good things along the way. However, depression can blur your vision, making you overemphasize the negatives while ignoring the positives. Make it a habit to jot down three things you’ve done well each night.
7. Avoid Dwelling on the Past: Constantly reminiscing about what you used to have, who you used to be, or how things used to be can deepen your despair. Similarly, blaming yourself, others, or circumstances for your current situation is counterproductive. Learn from past mistakes but don’t dwell on them.
8. Remember that Depression Lies: Depression can make your favorite foods taste bland, drain the joy from friendships, and make your job seem tedious. But remember, these feelings are deceptive. The world is still colorful, food is still flavorful, and your friends and job are the same as you once loved. So whenever you feel worthless, unloved, or uncared for, remind yourself that these are lies fabricated by depression.
9. Have Faith in the Future: Chronic worry about the future can be just as detrimental to your mental health as living in the past. This can lead to a cycle of catastrophizing, where every headache becomes a potential brain tumor and every rejection becomes proof of eternal loneliness. Focus instead on the beauty and goodness that are present in your life now.
10. Seek Therapy: The symptoms of depression might not last forever, but there’s a high chance of relapse. The more episodes of depression you’ve had, the higher the risk of another. Research shows that if you’ve had one episode of depression, you have a 60% chance of relapse. After two episodes, the risk jumps to 70%, and after three, it climbs to 90%.