Depression can be a very serious, debilitating disorder. About seven out of a hundred people suffer depression at some point in their lives, making it an important health concern that commands treatment. Dealing with depression can feel especially difficult, because the symptoms it generates (i.e. tiredness, lethargy and lack of enthusiasm) can deter those suffering from seeking the very treatment that would put an end to their symptoms.
Though at times depression may feel like a demoralizing cycle, what some people may not be aware of is that depression is not only extremely treatable but temporary. For most people, depression only lasts for a limited amount of time. Treatment options are vast, and there are many ways to actively fight depression.
The more one understands the physical and psychological factors driving their depression, the better able they are to overcome it. One important step in this process is to recognize the critical inner voices (harsh self-critical thoughts) that seep into our consciousness, both causing and exacerbating depression. When people feel depressed, it makes them especially susceptible to self-attacks. They may hear thoughts like: You’re so lazy. You’re bothering everyone. Stop moping around. You’re such a burden. This line of thinking reflects distorted perceptions that are not based on reality. Rather, they represent the work of the critical inner voice, an internalized enemy that develops in us based on early life experiences. Fighting back against these voices, refusing to believe or indulge in them, is a giant step toward conquering your depression.
Symptoms of depression can further be challenged when one takes physical as well as emotional action. Physical activity can actually increase the brain’s neuroplasticity, which sets the stage for emotional change. In other words, exercise can actually change your brain, lighten your mood and facilitate behaviors that keep depression at bay. Just 20 minutes a day, five days a week of cardio is scientifically shown to make a big difference.
Other activities that can be vital to combating depression involve making a social connection. Even just visiting a public place and being among people we don’t know can lift our spirits significantly or keep us from dangerous dips in mood. Joining clubs, taking classes or volunteering can be great opportunities for social interaction proven to make people feel better.
While hobbies or activities we once enjoyed may cease to seem appealing when depression seeps in, continuing to partake in these actions can be extremely important. Even if you don’t feel like taking a walk, playing a sport, painting a picture or watching a funny TV show, these can all be examples of activities that can uplift you, especially if they are things you once enjoyed.
No matter what your symptoms, those suffering from depression should never allow themselves to indulge in thoughts of being a burden. If you had the flu, would you feel guilty for your symptoms? Like anyone, suffering from a common cold, people feeling depressed should use their energy to focus on getting better. If one indulges in a feeling of worthlessness, the depression often only gets worse, a pattern that leads to even more self-shaming thoughts. This pattern can be especially dangerous, as it prevents people from one of the most important things they can do to fight depression, talking. Talking, whether to a friend, a counselor or a therapist can be essential to getting through hard times. Therapy and counseling can help people understand core issues and beat their battles with depression.
For some people, anti-depressant drugs can be helpful, just as meditation and other mental exercises can also be of aid. The message here is simply and sincerely that there is hope for those suffering from depression. Anyone battling depression must recognize that there is no shame in seeking treatment or taking time to overcome their symptoms. They must also understand that the cruel thoughts telling them that they wont get better are merely symptoms of one of depression’s distorted psychological sources, the critical inner voice, which, like depression, can be targeted, treated and obliterated one step at a time.
National Institute of Mental Health – Depression
WebMD – Depression
Helpguide.org – Depression
American Psychological Association – Depression
Mayo Clinic – Depression
Suicide Prevention Resources:
If someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255)