The Impact of Depression
Depression effects one in ten adults each year. Perhaps you are currently in one of those ten percent experiencing significant depression right now. If so, the chances are you have already felt how deeply it can impact your life.
People who are depressed frequently find that they lack energy, their concentration/attention begins to falter, relationships seem to take too much effort to maintain, work performance decreases, and more generally one feels robbed of the joys life otherwise holds. With all this pressure it is easy for the depressed individual to withdraw from life: to stop socializing, no longer pursue hobbies/interests, to dwell on problems rather than exciting goals and opportunities. If this trend continues, most depressed people begin to notice that others have started to avoid them, which in turn just adds to a sense of being caught up in a very dark downward spiral. What to do?
You could make an appointment with a therapist (no, I’m not suggesting you call me just yet… read on and try what I am about to suggest). You also could speak with your doctor about a course of antidepressants. You might even decide that you will just ‘gut it out’ until the depression passes.
What I suggest, however, is that you take a different course of action. Although I could give you a dozen different things to try, let me suggest two approaches that are very simple and often effective (you should also get the free eBook I offer entitled “A Happier Life”).
I’ve seen the following approaches work well with many people, and their effectiveness is backed up by numerous research studies. Let’s take a quick look and see if one or both might work for you.
How To Push Back Against Depression
The benefits of exercise are not limited to enhanced physical health but also include improved mood. There are several reasons why exercise helps alleviate depression. For one, it boosts the release of endorphins. These are the chemicals the brain pumps into the blood system as a result of sustained exertion and result in a sense of well-being. Endorphins are nature’s anti-depressants.
The good news here is that you need not run a marathon to enjoy to benefits of endorphins. Simply get out of the house and walk briskly for half an hour. When that becomes easy for you ramp up the effort a bit and increase the pace. (Eventually you may want to jog for five minutes and walk for five minutes).
Just make sure you are exerting enough energy to feel as though you are pushing yourself. I’m not talking about making the experience miserable, but it should feel moderately taxing.
The second reason exercise is an anecdote to depression is that it results in a sense of accomplishment. Planning to walk a mile and then doing so requires setting and then meeting a goal. That is an accomplishment. Success at reaching goals increases one’s sense of having at least some control over life. This, in turn, reduces the feelings of helplessness that so often are a part of depression.
Bottom line, get moving. Push yourself a little, and then push a little more. The impact may seem small at first, but if you will keep at it three or four times a week, within a month or so you should see a noticeable lifting of your depression. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression
What’s that? Walking is not for you? That’s fine, get on bicycle, treadmill, stair stepper, rowing machine, swim laps in the pool, jump rope, use a mountain climber, go to a jazzercise class, a spinning class, or any other activity that gets you moving and your heart pumping faster.
Again, don’t exercise to the point of misery (you want to be able to sustain this activity on a regular basis). If you push yourself to the point that you are just out of your comfort zone, that will be fine. If, after the first few weeks, you get bored with walking simply change to another activity. The main thing is to get out and move, to get those endorphins pumping. Experiment with different activities and you will find one that is a good fit.
Interaction with others is another effective way to alleviate depression. https://psychcentral.com/news/2014/03/20/social-connections-can-help-to-reduce-depression/67371.html But it is not just any social interaction that is effective. For example, social interaction on Facebook and other social media sites has been shown to increase the likelihood of depression, not reduce it.
You need more than social media has to offer – you want meaningful face-to-face interaction. I want you to socialize with people who are positive, affirming, and with whom you can identify. This does not need to be with close friends (although that would be great), but the interaction needs to be positive.
Try and do this on a daily basis, even if it is just for twenty minutes. If you cannot arrange to socialize with others that frequently then do so a couple times a week for thirty minutes or longer.
Here is an important tip: it will be important to ‘put your game face on’ during these interactions. Even if you do not feel happy, I want you to act happy. Save the times of raw honesty regarding your depression for those interactions with your closest friends and family. (Even with close friends and family it is important to act happier than you feel more times than not. Appearing depressed most of the time tends to elicit responses from others that have the unintended consequence of reinforcing depression. That, you would agree, is something we want to avoid).
Most people who struggle with depression, yet force themselves to socialize in the way I just described, report feeling better in very little time.
The above suggestions will work best if you give serious thought on how best to make the most of your efforts. So, think it over, then plan, and stick with it. Give yourself time to see changes. Chances are you’ll notice your depression lessening very soon. Your mood will begin to life, and the future will look brighter.
If that doesn’t happen, if your depression is deeply rooted and stubbornly holds on, then pick up the phone and give me a call. Or, for that matter, give another counselor a call. But by all means get additional help. You don’t have to fight this battle alone. Life is far too short to remain stuck in a depressed state of mind.
You can learn more about depression, and how therapy may be of help, by clicking here.