Everything can feel a little more difficult when you are dealing with depression. Going to work, hanging out with friends, going to the gym, or even just getting out of bed in the morning seems to be a little more difficult. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your quality of life, cope with your symptoms, and help you get back to being you. In this article, you are going to learn 10 ways to cope with depression and dramatically improve your current situation. Let's begin.
Human beings are social creatures by nature, therefore, one of the most important things that you can do is have a strong, loving support group in your corner. This can include your family, friends, or even an online support group. A recent clinical study showed that social connection is a greater determinant to overall health than obesity, smoking, and high blood pressure. Furthermore, a study conducted at a free health clinic in Buffalo, New York found that respondents with insufficient social support were the most likely out of the group to suffer from mental disorders including anxiety and depression.
If your someone who is naturally shy (20% of the population) and not sure were to begin, perhaps start by looking inward. What are your likes and dislikes? What environment are you naturally comfortable in? What personalities are you naturally attracted to? Discovering who you are can be the first step in discovering a new group of friends.
New and compelling research continues to find links between diet and mental health. As reported in The Lancet Psychiatry, "Evidence is steadily growing for the relation between dietary quality and mental health, and the select use of nutrient-based supplements to address deficiencies...We advocate recognition of diet and nutrition as central determinants of both physical and mental health."
A recent study found that participants who went on a mediterrianen-style diet (a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, fish, and grains) and supplemented with fish oil capsules each day led to a reduction in depression. There is also strong evidence that suggests the importance of good nutritional intake begins at an early age. A 2014 systematic review found that a poor diet is linked to poorer mental health in children and adolescents. It is now clear, what we eat and drink not only affects the way we look—our physical health, but also how we think, feel, and act—our mental health.
Sleep and mood are essentially intertwined. In fact, the association between sleep disturbance and major depression is so strong that some researchers have even suggested that a diagnosis of depression in the absence of sleep complaints should be made with caution. About 3/4 of all depressed patients have insomnia symptoms and roughly 40 percent have hypersomnia, which is characterized by recurrent episodes of excessive daytime sleepiness and or prolonged nighttime sleep.
As Harvard Health stated, "Studies using different methods and populations estimate that 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression and about 90% of children with this disorder, experience some kind of sleep problem. Most patients with depression have insomnia but about one in five suffer from obstructive sleep apnea."
To help ensure you get a good night's rest turn off all electronics (yes that includes your phone) an hour to two hours before bedtime, dim the lights, and read a good book or something just as relaxing. Additionally, exercising during the day, avoiding caffeine in the late afternoon, and writing down what you have to do tomorrow are also excellent ways to improve sleep quality and duration.
Yes, I literally mean analyze your thought pattern. What are you doing? What are you thinking? What are you saying to yourself? Realize, you are not your thoughts, you are the thinker behind the thoughts. Get to that person, step back and go around your thoughts. Don’t go with them. Ask yourself, “what is making me feel this way? What is making me think this way?” Imagine yourself (you, the thinker behind the thoughts) stepping to the side as your thoughts pass by. Do nothing but watch—not in the first person, but in the third. I know it can be difficult and at the moment seem entirely impossible, but it’s not. It just takes practice.
You matter, so make time for you. Sometimes you need to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, with whom you want to do it with. Go outside, play with your dog, cat, or turtle—doesn't matter. Do what you want to do and whatever can bring a smile to your face. Don't say, "nothing can." Trust me, I understand where you are coming from and I feel for you, I really do. But try something. Anything. You matter—you are a unique, powerful individual so make some time for you. It's your life and you live it once. Smile. It's a great day. Whatever you want to do go and do it.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is, "a type of therapy that focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortion and behaviors and improving emotional regulation." By changing your thinking pattern (positive vs. negative thoughts) you can quite literally change how you feel.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), is the most proven form of verbal therapy, also known as psychotherapy. In certain instances, CBT has been shown to work as or even more effectively than some antidepressant medication for specific types of depression. Evidence suggests that those who get CBT in addition to antidepressant medication or all-natural stress supplements may be half as likely as those only supplementing or on medication to have depression again within a year.
Barbara Fredrickson, who is a positive psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discussed in one of her many remarkable papers that people who meditate daily display more positive emotions (joy, love, excitement, etc.) than those who do not. For example, three months after the experiment was over she concluded, “those who meditated on a regular basis continued to display an increase in mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, and also a decrease in illness symptoms.”
Yes, that’s right, goals actually increase your productivity and enhance your overall well-being. Research suggests we experience our strongest positive emotions when we are in pursuit of something that we believe to be worthwhile. When we are pursuing something we believe to be worthwhile we have a sense of meaning and sense of purpose. And every time we actually make progress on our goal(s), no matter how small and inconsequential it may seem, we add a sense of accomplishment as well when dopamine is released in the brain.
Regular exercise can have a profound impact on not only your physical health but your mental health as well. Studies suggest that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication without the negative side effects. For example, a recent study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that walking for one hour a day or even running for 15 minutes day can reduce the risk of major depression by 26 percent.
Exercise can also help relieve stress, reduce anxiety, improve memory, help you sleep better at night, improve self-confidence, and boosts your overall mood. Exercise is one of the most effective, beneficial things you can do to cope with depression and improve your overall well-being.
Music therapy involves regular meetings with a qualified music therapist intended to help improve mood through emotional expression. A recent systematic review aimed to assess the effectiveness of music therapy for depression identified 9 studies involving 421 people from adolescence to adulthood. The study found that music therapy in addition to TAU (treatment as usual) is more effective than TAU alone. Music therapy seems to reduce depressive symptoms, stress, and anxiety.
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