According to WHO (World Health Organization), over 300 million people around the world suffer from some level of depression. In the USA alone, 16.2 million adults had experienced an episode of major depression during the year 2017. It is estimated that 15% of the adult population have to deal with depression at some point in their lives. It’s quite a significant percentage which makes it indispensable for us to not only understand how to effectively deal with depression but also know how to help someone with depression.
As per my experience, circumstances are the primary cause of depression in most of the cases. Your circumstances directly impact your mood. Bad mood results in imbalance of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances that facilitate communication between different parts of your brain.
When these neurotransmitters are short in supply or there is chemical imbalance in the brain, it impacts your mood resulting condition called clinical depression. It is sort of a vicious cycle hence when you are suffering from depression your condition often worsens with time and you find it difficult to come out of it.
Although as someone who had to cope with depression a couple of times I completely understand that dealing with depression is not at all easy. However with patience and persistence you can slowly but surely fight your way out of depression. Here I will share tried and tested practical ways that will give you action items on how to deal with depression.
1. Connect with other Beings:
Depression drives you into isolation and you tend to spend most of your day alone. Loneliness further empowers your depression symptoms leaving you stuck with your helpless condition.
Some people are too ashamed to discuss their condition because depression is seen as a social stigma in most parts of the world. Remember reaching out for help when needed is not a sign of weakness.
a) Family members
Take the first step, talk to someone who is close to you be it your mom, dad or best friend. Tell them how badly you want them to spend time with you. Go out, have a coffee with them at your favourite restaurant.
Ask them when was the last time they had watched a movie with you? If the task of selecting the movie and buying tickets is too much for you, no problem. Keep it simple! Just get your favourite childhood movie from the internet and watch it with them, at your home itself.
This will recall memories of your good old times, which helps in generating feel-good neurotransmitters called serotonin, thereby lifting up your mood by restoring chemical imbalance in the brain.
b) Overcome Touch deficiency
Sometimes your withdrawal syndrome during a phase of depression leads to touch deficiency as well, which is another cause of stress and depression. So try your best to get rid of this deficiency by making some sort of physical contact with other beings.
It can be hand shake, hand hold, hug or cuddling. If you have a pet or infant at your home, carry them around in your hands, snuggle them, express your affection, play with them, do eskimo kiss with them and so on.
c) Beat loneliness by making fresh Connections
If you live in a remote city away from your parents and closed ones, no worries. Go out, meet new people, now I understand that I am asking for too much but trust me connecting with people goes a long way in reducing depression.
Remember taking the first step is the most difficult so start with baby steps. Talk with a security guard; ask him how was his day? In 95% he will be more than willing to reply with a smile and take the conversation further from there.
d) Find ways of how you can make their Lives better.
Ask a sales guy how sales are after so and so change policy changes. These are activities that I have done myself, trust me they are more than happy to share their opinion.
Research shows that when you help and support someone it boosts up the mood of both the parties. Thus, by doing so, you will not only alleviate your depression symptoms but also make that guy’s day better.
2. Do your favourite Activity:
When you do something that you love to do you get completely engrossed in it. In such a state you totally Present in the moment. In other words, you are neither thinking about the past nor thinking about your future which is perhaps the primary cause of you getting stuck with your depression symptoms.
a) Be a joyful Spectator
Ask yourself what is that One activity that will instantly put you into action irrespective of your current circumstances. It can be as simple as listening to your favourite song, watching your best dance performance or a stand-up comedy show for that matter.
If I recall from my past, there have been occasions when I was going through a very bad day till I chose to turn on a set of my favourite songs, which instantly changed my mood from sad to happy. Coincidently, I am listening to my favourite songs on my laptop using my sennheiser headphones right now at the time of writing this post.
Music can play a great role in lifting your mood even if you are not a bigtime music lover. It may not make a significant difference if you are in a deep depression but even a small amount of difference is worth it in most of the cases, thus you must always give it a try.
b) Perform without judging
If you are more of a performer than a spectator, step out of your bed, close the door (if required) and simply perform be it singing, dancing, playing guitar, sketching, painting, just do it. Keep it simple, begin with the easiest and move ahead gradually, Remember? baby steps.
And for god’s sake don’t judge yourself on the basis of your performance at this stage, be kind to yourself. It doesn’t matter how badly you performed. Once done without judgement it will change your state of mind from sad to happy. This happy state of mind is retained for several hours and trust me it will turn out to be your first significant step towards depression recovery.
3. Relaxation is the Key:
Being relaxed is the inherent nature of your mind & body. It is only when this state of being relaxed is disturbed, when we begin to face physical, mental and psychological problems. Restore yourself to this very state and fighting depression will no longer be a daunting task.
a) Sleep well
A good seven to eight hours sleep is necessary for everyone in order to retain good health. As depression often causes sleeping problems, a good quality sleep for sufficient number of hours becomes imperative for a person suffering from depression. Best way to deal with sleeping problems is to maintain a routine and follow it consistently.
In other words, sleep at same time and wake up at same time, daily. In the beginning you are likely to face problems falling asleep, in that case you can read a book or your favourite novel but for god’s sake avoid smartphone, TV and social media and most importantly porn, at any cost.
Trust me by following this pattern you will be able to follow a good sleeping routine.
b) Find an activity to Relax
Relaxation activities like meditation, tai chi and yoga can play a significant role in coming out of depression, if done regularly. Meditation is particularly important because it helps in making your mind thoughtless hence killing your negative thought pattern which is highly detrimental for your condition.
Thoughtless mind enables us to connect with our soul which leads us to a spiritual path which is the path to happiness, free from pain and misery. You can book a one hour meditation session with me if you are seeking to control your wandering mind from incessant thinking.
Activities like yoga and tai chi involve postures which stretches your muscles and improves blood circulation throughout the body. This results in proper functioning of important organs like heart, liver, kidneys and brain which is essential for good physical and mental health.
Besides this yoga and tai chi helps in building a proper connection between body and mind thereby restoring the natural state of our being which is calm and relaxed. You can join a yoga or a tai chi class in your neighbourhood according to your suitability.
c) Avoid stressful situations
Any situation which is likely to cause stress should be avoided at any cost. Common examples include overburdening yourself with work as a result of overcommitting to your boss or inability to say No.
Multitasking that involves working in office and doing intraday trading, side by side. I have personal experience doing it; it was nice for a few days until I began to feel highly stressed out after a couple of weeks.
Sometimes it’s not work but the people who trigger stress in your mind, keep such people at an arm’s length even at the cost of hurting their ego for your peace of mind is ten times more important than someone’s ego.
4. Adopt healthy Habits
A healthy and simple lifestyle opens doors to a trouble free life. It is for this very reason that all Ayurvedic doctors and Yoga gurus give first priority to adoption of a healthy lifestyle and eating habits when it comes to treating most of the diseases including depression.
a) Eat healthy
Most people suffering from depression crave for caffeine, sugary, spicy and fatty food items. Some even resort to alcohol and cigarettes for temporary relaxation they offer only to be followed by bouts of severe depression. The idea is to replace unhealthy with healthy.
Food items like green leafy vegetables, lean proteins, fresh fruits and whole grains are very essential to deal with depression as they not only help in boosting your energy levels but also leaves you with a sharper mind.
Replace caffeine with an antioxidant like green tea, processed spices with organic spice like turmeric which is an instant mood booster. Replace addictions like drinking and smoking with meditation which, as I have already mentioned, is ten times better way to relax your mind during depression.
Exercise can play a vital role in dealing with depression. Studies have shown that thirty minute exercise every day is as effective as taking medications for getting rid of depression. Moreover, regular exercise during the recovery period prevents recurrence of depression.
Go for rhythmic exercises like aerobics, swimming and zumba. Ask a reliable friend to join you, as a partner always helps in keeping up with regularity. Avoid heavy weight lifting during depression as it will result in overstraining.
5. Kill unhealthy Habits:
Most of the time your mind is controlled by external factors like sensational news, office grapevine, anxiety triggers like smartphone notification, no matter how useless they are and porn.
This leads you to indulge in unhealthy habits like playing games and watching porn which not only wastes your precious time but also results in problems such as anxiety and depression. This makes it extremely important for you to get rid of such futile activities from your life especially when you are going through a depressive episode.
a) It’s not smartness to overuse Smartphone
Excess use of smartphones especially for mindless activities like playing temple run, browsing social media profiles, jumping to read each and every notification should be strictly discouraged during a depressive disorder. Such activities cause sleeping disorders, anxiety and impact your social relations which are all closely related to depression hence limit your smartphone use to not more than thirty minutes a day.
b) Quit Porn to overcome Procrastination
Most of you must have watched porn and must have fallen into the habit of procrastination at some point in your lives. But have you ever observed that there is a connection between the two? Let me share my own story. When I was fourteen years old and was unaware of phenomena like masturbation and porn I had never procrastinated even on a single task.
Cutting long story short, masturbation reduces your energy, willpower and makes you anti-social. When your drive is low you are highly unlikely to complete your tasks on time. This makes you a habitual procrastinator and it continues for years until someone opens your eyes, if at all.
As both (masturbation & procrastination) go hand in hand, for someone suffering from depression it becomes imperative to deal with both. Porn being the root cause needs to be shunned completely. Procrastination causes feelings of worry and guilt due to a long pending list of tasks.
I understand that taking action while suffering from depression is not easy but once you will adopt a healthy set of habits and shed all unhealthy habits including masturbation you will get the drive to take action. Here again I would remind you of baby steps, start by taking small action and gradually move to bigger ones.
This brings me to the conclusion of yet another very long post. Needless to say suffering from depression is one of the worst problems one can ever experience. Thus I always recommend everyone to adopt a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
If you notice someone in your circle has suddenly isolated him from the group, stopped smiling, is not eating properly and appears to be unhealthy and uninterested in day to day activities, he could be suffering from some degree of depression.
You must talk to him in order to identify if depression is behind the said changes in his behaviour. If so, offer your full support to him through connection, participation, relaxation and adoption of healthy habits as stated in aforementioned points in this post. Take it up as your social responsibility to support someone with depression, for, a significant number of people commit suicide every year because they reach a point where it becomes impossible for them to deal with depression alone.
If you have ever suffered from depression in your lifetime how did you deal with it and how were you able to overcome it? What is the one thing that worked best for you in beating depression? I would love to hear from you, do share your inputs in the comments section.