Ten Ways to Fight Depression
Remedies for Mild Depression
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | March 2015 (revised 2020)
We get down, pulled into the darkness of helplessness. We can assist recovery through action, even though action is the last thing on our mind. Here is ten things you can do.
Depression is one of the most common and serious disorders. Over 264 million people are afflicted by this disease. Depression is not normal mood fluctuation, but a condition that can linger for weeks, months or even years. Ignoring signs of depression can be costly. With early detection, sufferers can address the in-coming waves of darkness before overwhelmed with despair.
The negative stigma of depression often flowing from ignorant suggestions that sadness is a choice often prevents seeking professional help. Depression is not a choice. Depression is caused by a complex mixture of social, psychological and biological factors. Typically, there is genetic underpinnings that create a susceptibility to depression. Basically, to be clear, depression is not a choice. It should be treated as an illness with compassion and kindness.
Signs and Symptoms of Depression
A period of at least two weeks when a person experienced:
*List from National Institute of Mental Health (NIH)
Depression often co-occurs with other diseases, traumatic events, and relationship troubles; but can stand alone. Treatment should explore options for addressing co-occurring problems along with the depression.
Suicide and Depression
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance compiled these shocking statistics:
A List of Resilience Building Remedies
This list is not to replace professional help and treatment. This list is not intended for major depressive disorders. This list builds emotional resilience. These are practical remedies for mild, chronic (dysthymia) depression.
1. Structured Simple Social Interaction: During episodes of depression social contact is demanding. We shouldn't push over engage in social events that overwhelm. However, we shouldn't isolate. Reach out to a friend or family member, a person that is safe. There are also helpful on-line and off-line support groups that are helpful.
2. Avoid Alcohol: Alcoholic beverages provide an escape, especially for men. Alcohol only momentarily relieves distressed emotions. The temporary relief is deceptive. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. Too much alcohol interferes with sleep, exercise and relationships. While alcohol may help in the short run, over time it creates more triggering factors, and more depression.
3. Exercise : When we are depressed, exercise often is the first casualties. Lack of motivation is a sign of mild depression. Exercise can be therapeutic. Exercise has an anti-depressant effect; it boosts natural levels of serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals feel good, naturally boosting mood. When we respond to mild depression by abandoning workouts, we further deplete feel good chemicals. (See Exercise and Mental Health).
4. Improve Eating Habits: Vitamin and mineral deficiencies have proven to contribute to low moods. Elevated amounts of sugar and other simple carbohydrates destabilize blood sugar levels. Because higher sugar levels increase serotonin production, we crave sugar when we are down. The sugar high is short lived. The body balances the high levels through releasing balancing chemicals into the blood stream. Fast burning carbohydrates quickly deplete, creating a dip in blood sugar levels. This roller coaster ride creates anxiety. The sugar binging also prompts guilt further depressing the system. Eat food rich in vitamins and nutrients. Add a few servings of fish to increase Omega-3 consumption. Also add a multivitamin to your morning routine.
5. Work on Unfinished Business: Unfinished business weighs on our mind, creating anxiety and draining mental resources. The most difficult step of a project is the first step. We put projects aside for a variety of reasons. These projects linger in our minds, weighing on mental resources. We don't have to finish everything but a detailed plan in place relieves pressure. Once we create a plan, often the weight of the unfinished business is lifted. For example, if housework has been postponed and the thought of cleaning the entire house is overwhelming, we tend not to start. In our mind, the unfinished job drains resources. We know it must get done. Instead of committing to clean the entire house, make a simpler plan, such as, cleaning three days a week for thirty minutes. (See Reflection or Action and The Waiting Game)
6. Open the Curtains and Blinds: Light deprivation is associated with depression. Light has positive effects on the brain. Simply open up those curtains and blinds to give yourself a little mood boosting light.
7. Interrupt Depressing Ruminations: A depressed mind is drawn to depressing thoughts. The negative thoughts further depress the mind. It's a powerful cycle that is difficult to break. Mindfully attention to other activities often intervenes with thought cycles.
8. Avoid Behavior Addictions: Alcohol and sugar are not the only addictions drawing us when moods are low. Television, internet, and relationship addictions are also common escapes. It's important to keep our lives in balance. Too much television, too much facebook, and too much clinging to another person disrupts healing.
9. Engage in Activities: Psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi has written several books on flow. Flow is activities requiring concentration to perform but not too complicated, discouraging us. Hobbies, exercise, cooking can all require flow when sufficiently demanding. (See Flow and Well-being)
10. Seek Professional Help: Depression is caused by chemical imbalances. When the balances deviate too far from normal we need professional help to get back to a functioning range. There is no shame in depression. Get the help you need and get back to living.
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