A Guide to Treating and Coping With Depression
Depression is an illness that affects how people think, feel, and act. While everyone feels low at times, depression is a mental health condition that causes persistent feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, and guilt. It may also decrease a person’s energy level and make it difficult to feel motivated or concentrate on tasks. People with depression often cannot enjoy activities they usually would find pleasurable.
It’s estimated that 280 million adults worldwide have depression. As far as the United States is concerned, a Columbia University study revealed that in 2020, 9% of Americans 12 or older experienced major depressive disorder (MDD) in the previous year. Teens aged 12 to 17 accounted for 17% of these depressed individuals, and young adults aged 18-25 accounted for slightly more than 17%.
How do most people cope with depression? Although effective treatments are available, as of 2022, nearly 60% of depressed people were not seeking medical help for the condition. Fortunately, there are various ways to treat depression, from psychotherapy and medication to healthier lifestyle choices. The best approach varies from person to person, but here are some of the options that lead to positive outcomes.
Dozens of antidepressant medications are available, each with its benefits and side effects. The most common categories of antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like Prozac and Zoloft, and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), like Cymbalta and Effexor.
While you might begin to feel relief from your symptoms in one to two weeks, it may take four to eight weeks to experience the medicine’s full effects. Finding the right antidepressant for your situation depends on your particular symptoms and other health conditions.
This type of treatment is sometimes called talk therapy or counseling. It involves discussing your feelings and thoughts with a trained mental health professional. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to alleviate depression. This treatment helps people learn how to recognize negative thought patterns and modify them. On its own or combined with medication, psychotherapy can be very effective in treating depression.
Healthy Lifestyle Changes
Making healthy lifestyle changes can help improve mood and combat depression symptoms. When you make strides to look and feel healthier, your mood improves. Also, healthy activities like the ones listed below can take your mind off your problems and encourage positive thinking.
Yoga can be used as a complementary depression therapy. Practicing yoga can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and negative thinking. It can also improve mood by releasing feel-good hormones called endorphins, which can help reduce symptoms of depression. In addition, yoga can boost energy levels in those whose physical vitality has been affected by their depression.
Art therapy is another type of complementary therapy that has been shown to have positive outcomes for those with depression. Art activities can help people express their feelings and thoughts. It can also be an effective way for people to explore their emotions and work through complex issues affecting their depression symptoms.
Music therapy uses music to help people express emotions and process difficult experiences, and there are several benefits for those with depression. It can help manage depression symptoms, improve communication skills, increase self-esteem, and even improve physical health. Listening to or playing music can help people relax and relieve their depression. You can try different music styles such as jazz, classical, or country to find the type of music that works best for you.
Meditation has been found to reduce rumination and help people gain perspective and insight into their feelings. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety and increase feelings of well-being. Meditation has even been shown to positively change certain brain regions associated with depression, including the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus.
Adequate, Refreshing Sleep
Getting enough good sleep is essential for mental health. A lack of sleep can worsen depression symptoms, so it’s important to get plenty of restful sleep each night. Developing a consistent bedtime routine and avoiding caffeine or other stimulants close to bedtime can help you get the uninterrupted sleep your body needs. Avoiding screens at least an hour before bed can also help you get restful sleep.
Massage therapy can be beneficial in reducing the effects of depression by managing the physical symptoms associated with it. Massage therapy is particularly helpful for reducing physical tension and muscle pain. It can also help promote better sleep.
Support groups can be a great way to connect with others struggling with depression. Sharing experiences can help to normalize feelings, provide emotional support, and provide a social outlet for those who feel isolated or lonely. Support groups also give you the opportunity to talk about coping strategies and other treatment methods.
St. John’s wort, ginseng, lavender, and other natural remedies are often touted as being able to help with depression. When used appropriately, they may offer relief for some people.
However, these herbs should only be used with the advice of a qualified healthcare professional. They have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and may . Since they may produce side effects or interact badly with prescription drugs, it is essential to use caution when taking them.
Regular exercise is vital for both physical and mental health. Exercise releases hormones that can reduce stress and improve mood, and physical activity can provide a distraction from negative thoughts. It’s also been shown to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental health disorders. Try incorporating 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine, such as walking, running, biking, or swimming. The most important thing is to find something you enjoy and stick with it. Exercising with others can offer the additional benefits of providing a sense of connection and community.
Eating a nutritionally balanced diet can help improve your mental health. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can give your body the vitamins and minerals needed to function properly. Additionally, avoiding processed foods high in sugar and fat reduces depression symptoms.
Improper Ways of Coping With Depression
While there are a number of healthy ways to help you cope with depression, there are also activities and behaviors that can make your symptoms worse. To help you manage symptoms and feel your best, it’s important to avoid the following unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Substance abuse can make depression symptoms worse. It can also lead to other problems, such as addiction and physical ailments. Many people turn to substances to deal with their mental health issues, only to find more problems. When you associate alcohol or drugs with feeling better, it can become a crutch and make it harder to break out of the cycle of depression on your own.
Avoiding Your Problems
Trying to ignore your problems and not face them head-on can make them seem bigger than they are. It also prevents you from taking action that could help improve your situation. Avoiding problems can cause feelings of guilt and shame, which can deepen depression.
Withdrawing From Family and Friends
It’s important to stay connected to family and friends when struggling with depression. Isolating yourself can worsen symptoms and make it harder to get the help needed. Your family and friends can be a source of comfort and strength when you’re feeling down since they can provide companionship, advice, and support to help you cope with your depression.
Sleeping Too Much
Depression can make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning or have enough energy throughout the day, leading to oversleeping and making it even harder to break the cycle of depression. It’s important to try to maintain a regular sleep schedule to improve your mental health.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of talking down to yourself when you’re depressed, but this can make your depression even worse. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of yourself or your situation, try to focus on positive things. Practicing self-compassion and reminding yourself that you are worthy of love and acceptance can help lift your mood.
Unhealthy Eating Habits
Changes in appetite or eating habits can occur when a person is depressed, leading to unhealthy weight gain or loss. Unhealthy eating habits such as binging or skipping meals should be avoided as they can worsen depression symptoms. Focus on maintaining a balanced diet that provides your body with the energy and nutrients you need to stay healthy.
Obsessive thinking can often be a symptom of depression that can lead to dwelling on negative thoughts. This can make it difficult to take any meaningful action toward improving your situation. It’s important to recognize when this is happening and take steps to focus on more positive and productive things.
Relying Too Heavily on Technology
Spending too much time using electronic devices can be distracting and lead to feelings of isolation or disconnection from the world around you. It is important to limit screen time and engage in activities that help build meaningful connections with other people.
Self-harm, such as cutting or burning oneself, typically starts as a way to cope with troubling emotions, but it only leads to more pain and can be dangerous. It’s not a healthy solution and could lead to more severe problems. It is important to seek professional help if you’re engaging in self-harm.
Avoiding Treatment Altogether
Depression is a treatable condition, and many therapies and treatments can help alleviate symptoms. Avoiding treatment can lead to more severe forms of depression and make it harder to manage your condition. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, such as persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, loss of pleasure in activities you used to enjoy, or sleep disturbances, it’s important to talk to someone about getting help.
Reach Out for Help Today
With the proper treatment and support, depression can be managed successfully. It’s crucial to find the approach that works best for you. Regardless of the approach to treating depression, it is important to remember that recovery takes time and support. You need to persist in finding the right combination of treatments that works for you.
With proper care, individuals with depression can regain their well-being and live fulfilling lives. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, don’t hesitate to seek help. There are many people who can provide support.
Connect with someone who will listen compassionately on the 24/7 National Depression Hotline for free. Act now, so you can cope with depression in healthy ways with the help of trained, caring specialists. Our experienced staff can help you learn more about depression, including symptoms, treatments, and self-help coping mechanisms. If you are struggling with related conditions like anxiety or substance use disorder, we can help you with those issues as well. We can also connect you with resources in your area. Call the National Depression Hotline today to get the assistance you need.