Helpful articles for overcoming life's challenges

Activities and Treatments to Alleviate Depression

Have you ever noticed yourself feeling hopeless and unhappy and unsure of how to move forward? Maybe you notice yourself feeling angry and irritable more days than not? Perhaps you sometimes feel as if you are being controlled by your fluctuating moods. Depression is one of the most common mental health problems today. While medications can be effective in helping you feel better, there are other things you can do to ease the impact of depression.

1) Do not sleep too much. Staying in bed or taking naps throughout the day will only worsen depression and make it much harder to cope with. Try your hardest to wake up at the same time each morning and go to sleep at the same time every night. This may be difficult, but it will become easier once you get into a routine.

2) Eat Well. A healthy and balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but will also improve your thought patterns. Eat regularly and aim to eat 3 balanced meals each day. Quality food is vital in order for your mind and body to work properly.

3) Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself to things that are calming and improve your mood. Scented candles and a tranquil environment can help you feel better. Find relaxing activities that help you unwind. Listening to music, taking a walk or reading are a few examples. Allowing yourself even just 15 minutes of downtime can make all the difference.

4) Practice self-acceptance. Do not let others define who you are. If you doubt and criticize yourself excessively, compare yourself to others and avoid challenges and opportunities, you may be suffering from low self-esteem. You may also feel sad, anxious, guilty, worthless and ashamed, and lack confidence in relationships, work and/or leisure activities. You will be excessively anxious about the kind of person you are, and what you think you are unable to do compared with others. Accept yourself for who you are; not who others would like you to be.

If sadness and depression continue, you may want to consider seeking the help of a qualified clinician to assist you in your recovery. The treatment of depression typically addresses a variety of different issues. These can include trauma or loss, genetic and/or biological predispositions to depression, or how minor daily aggravations of life reduce positive feelings in your life. In addition, treatment of depression helps people see that many behaviors used to cope with negative feelings can make things worse for the person over the long run. While it is completely natural for a person experiencing sadness to cope by withdrawing from social encounters or activities, ceasing to engage in these activities and “shutting down” typically does not help alleviate depression. In fact, it tends to make the problem worse.

The good news is that a number of treatments for depression can help, and provide structure and support to allow an individual to recover more quickly. Therapeutic approaches include using Behavioral Activation (BA), an intervention that works to help people understand the environmental sources of their depression, as well as to address behaviors that might maintain or worsen the depression. Another approach to recovering from depression includes using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT—said as one word). This approach helps people develop and use mindfulness skills to increase awareness of painful thoughts and feelings along with an attitude of acceptance and compassion. Additionally, ACT helps people identify and connect with their chosen values to help that person create a meaningful life. Finally, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is also an effective treatment for depression. At the core, CBT holds that a person’s mood is directly related to his or her patterns of thought. It is believed that negative thinking directly affects an individual’s mood, behavior, and even physical health. The goal of CBT is to help a person learn to identify negative thoughts, evaluate their legitimacy, and replace them with more effective (and healthier) patterns of thinking.

Depression can have a profound effect on a person’s quality of life and ability to function. However, seeking out help for depression is not a sign of personal weakness or a flaw, but rather a step towards understanding and recovering from the symptoms of depression.