Depression – A Challenge Within
Depression is not just “feeling blue”. It is not a slight drop in mood or a feeling of sadness when a loved one goes away for a while. It is not the upset feeling you get when you don’t get hired after an interview. Understand that negative feelings regarding things or events in your mood are a normal part of life.
There are definitely ways to remedy these things or to modify your perception in order to bring yourself into a place of further positivity.
Depression can be overwhelming.
It is feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. It is burdens of a low mood that bring sufferers to their knees. Depression can bring such a lack of motivation to an individual that they feel they can’t even get out of bed in the morning. Depression can also fall so heavy that it leads individuals to take their own life, yes suicide.
Most people in the U.S., if not all, are aware of what depression is and that it is a prominent issue in our day and age.
We understand this.
Our intention in writing this article though is not to speak to you about the terrible effects of depression, these things are covered in great detail on a host of 1000’s of other websites. Rather, our intention is to empower you in managing or overcoming your depression, or in helping others work through theirs.
Science Behind Depression
Many studies suggest that people who suffer from major depressive disorders do have a different chemical makeup in their brain from those that do not struggle with these disorders. So, it is very probable that there are certain individuals that may face struggles with depression off and on for the rest of their lives.
It is for this reason that we do have medications and that such methods can be helpful. Also, these medications can be used as buffers to aid a patient along as they begin to make changes in their life and work through their depression.
This being said, labels can be powerful, and it is important that we do not give ourselves over as slaves to the label of depression.
We must know that we are capable as individuals to change our lives in many ways and find happiness. We all have access to a great deal of power, both within us and outside of us, we just have to tap into it. Also, we have many tools at our disposal to help us overcome obstacles both big and small, in order to lead to happier, more fulfilling lives.
There are many ways that we can better manage or perhaps even overcome our depression.
These factors are based on a particular individual who is suffering. It may be that there are things they need to remove from their life that is causing much of their depression. Perhaps they have an addiction that is destroying their life or a relationship that is poisonous. Perhaps they struggle with negative thought processes that they must become aware of in order to begin building new habits to process events, people, and circumstances with renewed positivity.
On the other hand, maybe there are many things that are not currently a part of the individual’s life that they need to begin making a part of their life to find greater happiness. We are not giving absolute solutions here, but there are many things that can make all the difference. What are some of these things?
It has been shown that gratitude is one of the number one factors that separates the happy from the unhappy. Taking as little as 10 minutes a day to think about or write about aspects or people in your life that you are grateful for can boost your mood substantially. There have been many studies done on the effects of gratitude and the joy it cultivates.
There are many types of meditational methods, such as mindfulness meditation, compassion meditation, visualization methods, EFT, and many others. These can be extremely powerful in helping somebody manage or even overcome their depression.
Brain scans have shown that meditation grows parts of the brain that enable people to have more presence, fulfillment, and overall joy in life. Meditation can also lead individuals to perceive their world differently so that they begin behaving differently and making more positive choices.
Not all people are religious, but studies have been done that connect spirituality with happiness. Prayer is a very effective method for many people who have struggled with depression, and it can lead to a change for the better.
This does not so much entail praying about depression itself, but praying about many other topics and endeavors within a person’s life.
“You are what you eat,” they say. A diet that includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, quality proteins and fats, and a balance of other nutrients brings thoughts and feelings of clarity, focus, energy, and upliftment.
Eating candy, junk food, and having a lack of any quality nutrition will bring sluggishness, bad moods, slower brain functioning, and many other negative effects. We must take care of ourselves physically if we want to be taken care of emotionally.
Exercising releases endorphins (or “happy chemicals”). It also increases dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain increase self-esteem and gives you energy and an overall sense of well-being.
Fulfillment and productivity
As humans, we need to feel that we’re accomplishing something and making a difference each day. It is healthy to have a consistent job, be attending school, or pursuing endeavors that fulfill us on a daily basis.
Hobbies or passions
Being involved in a hobby or passion regularly can bring a great sense of accomplishment and temporary euphoria. It is best that this hobby includes some level of skill and effort, as this is usually what makes it fulfilling for the individual.
We thrive off of interaction with others. Nobody is immune to the need for meaningful relationships and interactions in their lives. Loneliness breeds sadness and depression. Close relationships and meaningful encounters breed fulfillment and joy. If a person does not have this, there are many social activities organized in religious or educational organizations that may be good sources to find a friend or two. Meditation or prayer are good sources of bringing individual ease before they attend one of these events if they feel nervous or uneasy about going. In addition, having a sibling or family member to go with can also be helpful.
“Random acts of kindness” is actually another one of the top things that separate the happy from the unhappy. For whatever reason, when we give to others or do something to build them up, we ourselves are brought up in the process. If an individual is not doing this currently, it can be difficult to start at first. If they will put in the effort though, eventually new habits are built and it becomes a part of daily life. It takes effort, as all good things do.
Recovery from addictions
As addictions have a profound effect on brain chemicals, brain structure, motivation, self-esteem, shame, relationships, and personality, it is extremely important to take this into consideration when assessing depression. Drug, pornography, sex, food, and other addictions can all lead to major imbalances in a person’s brain and their life.
There are more things that could be added to this list, but these are the big ones we’ll state for now.
Life is a daily endeavor, and managing your mood is a daily effort. We are not suggesting that your depression will necessarily disappear if you are doing all the right things on a daily basis, but there are certainly choice behaviors that lead to depression and others that lead to happiness.
For many, it may actually be the case that with the wrong things out of their life and the right things in, and with a change of their thoughts, they are able to work through and overcome their depression, moving onto a life of far more joy and positivity.
Does this mean that they will never face sadness or a hard day again?
Of course not. But they will be equipped with the tools to work through these times if they have been making positive choices and they stay aware.
What if Nothing Works?
There are certainly cases where, even with all the right changes, you may continue to struggle. You may feel like there’s still no hope. We want to personally let you know this does not mean that you cannot find happiness. It does not mean that you must resign yourself to a life of agony; it simply means that you are able to use your agency to choose things that make your life better. You may have a struggle that you must continue to manage throughout your life. You will experience, as many others do, some days will be better than others.
It is important that you do not beat yourself up. You already feel bad, it isn’t necessary to feel bad about the fact that you feel bad. Questioning why and expecting yourself to feel better can lead to more stress and do you more harm than is necessary.
Acceptance and Faith are powerful tools.
You must exercise faith in your desired life. Your possibilities are open and you have the opportunity to progress.
In these trials and struggles, we must be there for one another. Realize we all have a weakness, we all have trials, and we all have hardships. Having a friend along the way in this process can make all the difference in the world. It can even save somebody’s life.
Still feeling like you need more help? Join our intensive outpatient therapy program for depression.