Depression is a mental condition which is one of the most widely spread ailments, effecting 300 million people worldwide. Depression differs from the occasional “blues” we all experience. Depression is much more serious and can effect our functioning at school, work, with friends, or with family. If you’re wondering if you or someone you know is experiencing depression, check out the list of symptoms below. If you’re experiencing many of these symptoms, chances are you probably have depression:
- Loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy
- Changes in sleep (insomnia or hypersomnia)
- Fatigue/decreased energy
- Changes in appetite (overeating or decreased intake)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Stomach aches
- Digestive problems
- Chest or back pain
There are different types and intensities of depression, and I advise you to seek consultation from your primary care physician to rule out any medical reason for the depression. For instance, fluctuations in thyroid levels can dramatically impact depression and anxiety. Anemia, heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, dehydration, pregnancy, medication, or even genetics can also similarly create depressive symptoms. If medical issues have been ruled out, then look to see if any other causes for depression are present in your life. Life events such as death and loss, abuse, conflict, relocation, divorce, marriage, graduation, social isolation, or substance abuse, can all trigger depression. Simply having family history of depression can make it more likely for you to also have depression at some point in your life.
Once you’ve addressed any medical necessity relating to depression, the next step is to work with a mental health professional to learn coping mechanisms to cope with some of those more difficult days. A therapist can provide you with weekly support, challenges, accountability, and goals will help keep you on track to recovery.
While it may sound like you can become depressed at every negative life event, this is not true! There are several factors which account for resiliency as well as a predisposition for depression, which I may address in a later post. Luckily, there is treatment available to those suffering from depression! In my experience, I find that most things that people come into therapy for can be treated by practicing mindfulness. The following are a few “tricks” I use frequently in my work. Experiment with these to see which technique works best for you, and feel free to try some of your own ideas!
Mindful Tricks to Kicking Depression(‘s Butt)
Write down whatever thoughts, feelings, and images you have in your own journal. Not only does this help empty your mind, but it also helps you to actually see your thoughts. It can just be random words that pop up or sentences. Don’t worry about what if someone sees this and judges you. You can destroy the pages afterwards, if this is a concern. It’s alright if the things you’re putting down are seem dramatic or dark. They are normal thoughts. Frankly, it’s better that these thoughts come outside of you rather than fester inside.
2) Distract/ Engage
Whenever you feel like your thoughts are circling in a downward spiral, do something that creates the opposite emotion. For example, countering depression by watching comedic programs, engaging in a hobby or sport, or trying something new and out of your comfort zone can be immensely powerful in countering the effects of depression. So go ahead, bust out your favorite sci-fi movie, head-bang to your favorite rock bands, sign up for Toastmasters, or take a walk and count all the yellow flowers you pass!
Conversely, occasionally engaging in the depressive emotion and doing something to increase that feeling can help to “get it all out” with a good cry or simply to be present with the feeling. Watching a sad movie or listening to an angsty song can also be so validating! This technique should be done with caution, however, since it can trigger some people to become increasingly depressed or hopeless.
Exercise can help your blood flow, bringing oxygen, adrenaline, and endorphins to your body and your mind, clearing it and improving your mood, concentration, sleep, maintain a healthy and fit body, and alleviate many body aches and pains. Exercise is a big factor, and a must when coping with depression and anxiety.
4) Be Creative
Pick up a paint brush, a coloring book, make a video, write a poem or story, sing a song, or make up a dance! Trauma and stress is stored at the back of your brain and the frontal lobes are used for understanding. Often, dissonance occurs when the different parts of the brain aren’t communicating enough or are imbalanced. Creativity can help give voice to trauma and release it by opening communication channels for the different parts of the brain.
5) Be Present
Focus on the physical sensations of breathing. What does it feel like on your nostrils when you inhale vs exhale? How does it feel when the air hits the back of your throat and your lungs? Focusing on your breath is very grounding and can help bring you back to the here and now rather than the swirling thoughts in your head.
These are just a few of the many coping skills one can use with depression! Please always consult a doctor, your personal therapist, or a psychiatrist, if your symptoms continue or worsen. Remember that YOU are also important. You need to be whole. You deserve to feel joy and peace. You deserve harmony and equilibrium in your life. Help is just a click or two away.
If you’re interested in starting therapy with me, then please click on the contact link at the top right corner and send me a message! Thanks for reading!