Take into account not only how you feel right now, but how you feel and have felt over the last month, the last year, two years, etc. Was this depression brought on by something concrete, like:
- loss of friend / love / family
- change in jobs or living situation
- financial problems
If your depression is mild to medium, you might try some of the coping methods on our coping with depression page or coping with stress or stress management techniques page. These tips can help you feel better right now. They are fun and can help you develop some skills that will keep your depression from returning.
The following depression help steps are geared towards people who have discovered they are clinically depressed, in the middle of a major depression or have some other mood disorder but of course can be of assistance with recovering from normal depression.
Depression Help Step Two: Get A Physical Check-Up
The first need thing you need to do when treating depression is to rule out any other disease. Go to a general practitioner (GP) or internist, they will run blood tests to make sure you are physically healthy. If you’re physically healthy, next you will be looking to find two specialists, a psychiatrist and a psychologist.
Depression Help Step Three: Find a Psychiastrist
This is the doctor who will prescribe your antidepressants. If your GP is prescribing antidepressants for you then at least make sure you have step four - a good psychologist. If you are clinically depressed or have any mood disorder you will end up needing a good psychiatrist. Make sure the psychiatrist listens to you and isn’t changing your meds every visit. Finding the right medication can be a very time-consuming task. It takes patience and endurance. Don’t give up and don’t settle. It’s your body, your mind and your life. You deserve all the help you can get.
Depression Help Step Four: Find a Therapist – Psychologist
This can be the most important step in your process of healing. Sometimes you luck out on the first try and sometimes it can be like looking for Prince Charming, you have to go on a lot of dates. Make a list of what you are looking for in this relationship. Everyone has different ways of relating to people and each therapist uses different modalities. You need to find someone that you can relate to. Personally, I can’t stand traditional talk therapy. When I go to a therapist and they “actively listen and repeat what I’ve said to them”, or sit there saying “ah” and “yes”, drives me nuts. But I have found various therapists through the years that I have connected with and who have helped me take the steps I’ve needed on my journey. I currently adore my therapist and value her as one of the best relationships in my life.
When it comes to depression help, I can’t stress this enough. A therapist you connect with can be essential to really getting better. There are so many different kinds of therapy. What’s most important is that you find a person you can connect with, whom you trust and ultimately to whom you can say anything.
Depression Help Step Five: Find the Right Cocktail
Most people have to go through a few different medicines before they find the one (or mixture of ones) that work for them. In my own experience, for a while, I felt like soup. They just kept adding medicines to the mix until finally we found the right thing. Don’t put it all in your physician/psychiatrists hands. The medication is for you – to help you, in your life. The doctor isn’t with you most of the time. If you are concerned about ANYTHING, write it down and bring it up with your doctor the next time you see him/her. And if you have bad side effects call your doctor and tell them what is going on.
Depression Help Step Six: Exercise!
If you are searching the web looking for ways to cope with your depression you are going to see this on EVERY list you find. The benefits of regular activity for both our physical and mental health are well documented. Exercise helps us cope with stress and anxiety, and also seems to enhance our sense of control, confidence and self-efficacy.
Depression Help Step Seven: Eat Well
This is another one that we all know. What you eat and drink affects your mood, your hormones, your energy, your everything. There is a ton of scientific information on this on the internet. I know through working with a nutritionist and simply from day to day experience that what I eat affects my mood. Does that mean I make the right choices all the time? Of course not. But if you can just pick one thing a week, one thing that you will do to feed yourself more healthfully, you will increase your healing dramatically.
Depression Help Step Eight: Sleep!
I’ve been an insomniac all my life. If I followed my natural rhythms, I’d go to sleep around 2-3 a.m. and wake up around 10-11a.m but many jobs I’ve had to work don’t do that schedule. So I’m forced to try to go to sleep before my body actually wants to. The things that interfere with my sleep are either I’m having too much fun and my brain is working and I don’t want to go to sleep or I’m making a list of things to do for the next day or worrying about something… you know the drill. I’ve tried all sorts of sleeping concoctions all of which work sometimes but not always. If you are not an insomniac, make a commitment to get regular sleep, it’s crucial to an effective treatment of depression, and a must for maintaining a stable mood. If you are an insomniac, I’ll be posting some help for you in the near future.
Depression Help Step Nine: Get Outside
Nature, sunlight, oxygen. As we know, changes in the amounts of daylight a person gets also alters circadian rhythms, which is why light treatment is so effective, especially for those who suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). If I can't get outside for at least a half hour a day, try getting a daylight light for many they work wonders. Also, it’s been studied that green plants help lower our stress levels, even LOOKING at pictures of nature help. I changed my desktop the other day to a picture of a lush green forest and when I come back to work at my desk, there is a moment where it seems to remind me to take a breath.
Depression Help Step Ten: Support and Friendships
It’s important to find support to help keep you on course, growing and to help when you are feeling at your worst. Depending on your life, these support systems can be support group meetings, meet-ups, online groups or groups that have weekly conference calls. They can be emailing your friends or talking on the phone. Ultimately, it’s about communicating with people outside of yourself who will be loving and understanding. I’ve found a lot of support via email. But a dear friend of mine is more of a phone person. She shared with me that during her darker times, she kept phone eight phone numbers in her phone on speed dial and she would rotate and speak to a different one or two every day. She had constant support but didn’t wear out her friends.
Step Eleven: Cultivate A Positive Mental Attitude.
The way we think affects the way we feel. If we are focused on unhappy things it enhances are depression. If we focus on positive things, and keep our thoughts and feelings continually on these things it helps us distance ourselves from depression. The law of attraction and self fulfilling prophecy demonstrate why and how this occurs.
Either way, what we think and believe affects us. One habit that is helpful is listing what we are grateful for. Every day, I list 10 things that I am grateful for and ten things I wish to manifest in my life.
There are some days that this is the only thing I do that is positive but even this small thing has produced positive results in my life. There is a theory that keeping a gratitude journal--taking the time to consciously count your blessings--is one of the most effective happiness boosters.
According to psychologist Robert Emmons at theU niversity of California at Davis, gratitude exercises improve physical health,as well--including raising energy levels and relieving pain. So, consider making gratitude a part of your daily life to help you alleviate your depression.
Depression Help Step Twelve: Alternative and Additional Therapies.
There are so many therapies available to help us. Whether you choose traditional talk therapy, NLP, polarity or any other alternative therapy, it is essential that you do not go this road completely alone.
That means that you must seek out help. Our society is an interesting dichodomy (contrasting thoughts). On one side, we have available to us multitudes of alternative therapies available to us and they are more widely accepted than previously, but on the other side there are still people who think depression is all in your head and you can just snap yourself out of it.
I do encourage you to find the kind of therapy that works for you in your present life. It’s worth going off the traditional path.
Depression Help Step Thirteen: Connecting With Spirit
Religion and/or spirituality is often a touchy subject. If you are religious and/or spiritual, you may likely find assistance inside your religious community or spiritual beliefs.
But then there are times when even though you are religious and/or spiritual, you feel completely disconnected from the divine.
The search for and the finding of that which is greater than ourselves (i.e. the divine) may be the most important thing we do in life. Connecting with spirit helps renew our hope and can sustain you in your time of need.
Depression Help Step Fourteen: Help Others
Helping others isn’t just the right thing to do. When you help someone else you stop thinking about yourself and your own problems.
Call it a healthy form of distraction. It’s been studied. In nursing homes, the people that help others forget their pain in the moments that they are assisting someone else. I have seen it myself and experienced it in my own life.
Recently, I sprained my ankle and all I could think about was the pain of walking. Then my friend, next to me starts crying because her father has been taken to the hospital. And in that moment, I go to her, hug her, listen and try to say words of comfort. I don’t feel the pain in my body for those moments because I am focused on her. I don’t suggest that you forget yourself and live only to serve others. I suggest that mental health can be aided by living in balance.
Hillel said “If I am not for myself who am I, but if I am only for myself, what am I?”
Take care of yourself and take care of others. Inside it you will find growth, comfort and solace.
Depression Help Step Fifteen: Keep A Journal/Write A Blog
This step relates to Step Fourteen in that we are trying to get out of our own heads. Sometimes, writing out how you are feeling either long hand in a physical diary or by typing into a computer, or talking into a dicta phone helps us say what we are feeling. These feelings may sometimes be overwhelming or sad and exhausting.
The act of writing out what you are feeling can separate these emotions from you and allows you to observe them, let them go and change the behavior that may have led to them in the first place.