7 Tools to Help You Overcome Depression
We all feel a little low from time to time, and this is a normal part of the human experience. However, for many people, depression is a serious condition that can make it difficult or even impossible to function, let alone live a rich and meaningful life. In fact, even people who seem outwardly successful, with loving families, friendships, and relationships, comfortable finances, and a wealth of opportunities—can suffer from this condition.
It is estimated that around 17 million adults in the United States—or almost 7 percent of the population—suffer from depression, and this number is steadily rising.
The exact causes of depression can vary and can be difficult to decipher. Some sociologists have attributed rising rates of depression to increasingly insecure working conditions and the alienation from our peers and our surroundings caused by these conditions and by technological advancements. Many scientists believe depression to be a result of the brain not producing a sufficient quantity of chemicals such as serotonin (the “happiness” hormone), noradrenalin (the “alertness” hormone), and dopamine (the “reward” hormone). Insufficient quantities of these hormones can lead to the trademark feelings of sadness, sluggishness, and lack of motivation that usually make up depression. In most individuals, depression is believed to be a combination of external and neurochemical factors, often reinforcing each other in a vicious cycle.
If you are reading this, it is probably because you are struggling with depression. Whether you have struggled all of your life or only recently, severely or only slightly, we have compiled a list of seven “tools” you can use to help overcome your depression.
An understanding of what exactly causes depression and what you can do to combat it is a valuable tool in fighting depression. You can read up on the cases of depression or even try out Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (or CBT) techniques, which teach you how to analyze and question self-critical or negative thoughts.
Mindfulness is a method of improving your mental health that has become extremely popular over the last decade or so, yet the practice actually dates back thousands of years to eastern belief systems like Buddhism and Taoism. Mindfulness incorporates a variety of different techniques and teaches you how to notice your thoughts and surroundings without judgment.
Alongside CBT, ACT—or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy—is a powerful tool in your arsenal. While CBT teaches you to analyze and question negative thoughts and feelings, Acceptance teaches you to accept, rather than fighting, harmful thoughts and feelings, as they will always pop up from time to time. Acceptance can teach you to feel your feelings without guilt or engaging in potentially destructive behaviors in order to alleviate them. Acceptance is closely related to mindfulness.
Physical exercise has been proven to boost your mood, as well as a variety of other health benefits. Being physically fit and healthy can also increase your self-esteem as well as the dopamine levels in your brain. Even if you only have mild exercise, such as a short walk each day, the benefits of being outdoors and getting Vitamin D and melatonin from the sun are notable.
Rest and recuperation are essential for us to recover from stress and exertion. Getting at least seven hours of sleep a night and taking time off work to enjoy yourself with others, or even just by yourself, is a powerful tool for happiness.
Fighting depression is usually a lot easier when you have others on your side. Whether you spend time with understanding and supportive friends and family or consult a medical professional like Erin Reese concierge MD, the benefits of support are numerous.
Although antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications often get a bad rap, they can be lifesaving tools for many people. If you have tried various other techniques without any luck, it may be worth considering speaking to a medical professional about medication.
It may not be possible for you to follow every single one of these steps, especially if your life is busy and you struggle with motivation. You do not have to do all of these—although the more tools you have at your disposal, the more effective they are likely to be, even following one or two of these can help you more than following none of them. Think of each tool as like the leg of a table—the more legs, the more stable it is. If one leg is removed, the table will remain upright as long as enough other legs remain. You may have to give up one of these tools, but having others in place will help keep you stable if this happens.
Suppose you are really struggling with depression to the extent where you are worried about causing harm to yourself or to others. In that case, it is essential that you seek the help of a medical professional rather than relying on online tests and articles.
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