In a previous article – Understanding Depression – we took an overview of depression, from many different angles, however while extensive it also ended up being very long, so in this article we are taking the 8 tips, which can be found in the middle of that long article and we are outlining them in this article, so as to make it more accessible. So if you want to gain an in-depth understanding of depression then take a look at this article, but if you want to go straight to the tips, which will help you improve your mental-emotional outlook and you don’t want any theory, then continue on to read this article, as these 8 steps are highly practical.
Depression is a mind game, obviously because depression effects our thoughts on feelings. But also depression is a mind game, in that the depressed state puts you in a place, whereby you feel out of control and overwhelmed. If you didn’t feel out of control and overwhelmed, then you wouldn’t be depressed! So in many ways depression and anxiety are really challenging, because we cope with life via our mind and when our mind is clouded with dull grey thoughts and feelings of hopelessness, then it is really difficult to face up to the challenge!
So if you want to take on your depression and anxiety and win, you must play a mind game on the depressed thoughts and feelings, because while depression effects our mind, also our mind effects our depression!
So take heart, you can overcome depression, but it will take some time and energy to beat it. Everyone’s depression is different and each person has to do some soul searching, in order to see what’s causing a problem and start to do something about it. But one thing is for sure, the 8 tips for dealing with depression which follow are the broad steps, which have to be followed in order to win over your mind and beat your depression.
1). Realise that you have a problem, that you are not the only person in the world with this problem and that it’s ok to be depressed!
2). Work on building yourself up – Read nice books, do things which nurture yourself, use positive affirmations etc.
3). Do some investigations into the ‘why’ behind your depression. This isn’t pointless navel gazing nor is it an in-depth investigation, rather we are simply talking about taking an itinerary of ‘self’. What do we mean by this? What we mean here is getting to know ourselves and our back story. Do some free psychological self-evaluation tests (there are many free tests online), read self-help books, write a life account whereby you make a quick summary of your life so far. Think and feel about the various events in your life and basically do some soul searching. The idea here is that in many cases we feel depressed because we are living a life style, which we feel we should be living, but this life style is in direct contrast to how we should be living, thus there is a clash between our critic and these thoughts and aspirations. Often in this case once we start to change our life, the depression goes away because there is no conflict, once we come to terms with what we want to do versus what we feel we have to do. For example, a person might go to medical school because they come from a family of doctors, but then they become depressed. When they do some soul searching, they realise that they hate medicine and they want to do something else instead. Once they work out their mixed feelings, between what they think they should do (become a doctor-approved by the inner critic) versus doing something else (not approved by the inner critic), the depression mysteriously ends!
4). Seek help – It is great if you can cure yourself, but often we need some external help. I went to a counsellor, for a few months, back in 1994 and it made a huge difference to my life including it putting me onto the study of psychoanalysis! So you’re not crazy, and it is unnecessary to tough out things on your own. Back in 1991-1993 I underwent an 18 month stretch of intense depression. However, I didn’t tell anybody about it, not even my closest family members, and I didn’t tell my doctor, nor did I take drugs. I toughed it out and everything worked out ok, but I am pretty sure that if I did tell my family and my doctor and if I did take anti-depressants, that the depression would have been far more short lived and far less intense. I took this course of action because I was ignorant. I didn’t want to tell anybody about my problems and in a way I didn’t know how to. At that time my mouth would open but words would not come out, it was like there was an invisible shield dividing my thoughts from my words. I didn’t know what to do, I just ridded out the pain. Its memories of this time period in my life which encouraged me to set up this blog! So seek help, you don’t have to go it alone, seek out a doctor or a friend or a family member. If they don’t give you the time of day, then seek out somebody and don’t stop until you find your feet and find a way forward.
5). Take anti-depressants – Nobody likes taking drugs, but sometimes they are a necessary evil! Take the drugs they will help. But once on them realise that they’re a crutch (you can also opt for herbal alternatives, take a look here to find out more about them), and try to get o off them. But also be sensible. Most people can come down from anti-depressants but some people have a complex make up and they have to stay on them for life. Be brave but also be sensible and stick with them, if you have to, in order to stay functional in your life!
6). Now that you’re on Anti-Depressants Try to Get of off them! – This might sound counter-intuitive but the whole reason for taking anti-depressants is that they are a crutch. The idea been that the drugs make you feel better, which in turn helps to break the negative feedback loop. So by all means take the drugs they will help, but do try and come of off them slowly after a 3 to 6month period, and make a point of doing so slowly, so as to avoid any rebound problems.
7). This too will pass – There was a famous British psychic healer, by the name of Harry Edwards, who was very active in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s who healed thousands of people. Anyway he had to deal with people from all walks of life and many of whom had to undergo very difficult and painful diseases and troubles in their lives. He used to like giving them this phrase “this too will pass” and I feel it is a wonderful phrase because depression is a sort of mental torture and one of the key factors, which will help you in overcoming depression is this thinking tactic. This too will pass reminds us that all things in life, both good and bad, come and go, so while we can’t hold onto the good things forever, it is also true to say that we cannot hold onto the bad things either. This is especially true with emotions. No matter how bad you feel, this state will pass within a few hours. Depression tends to be cyclical and usually there is a particular point in the day, when it is at its worst and often we torture ourselves by thinking it will never end and life will never get better. Well take out your stopwatch next time you feel that cloud over your head and note down when it starts shifting. There will be a definite limit, there always is as our nervous systems can only stay in this depressed emotional state for a limited period of time. So once you become aware of the limitations of the depression, you will become empowered. Yes it has a limit; yes the depression only has a hold over me for a certain period of time. Thus begins the road to recovery!
8). Connect with your Higher Power – Maybe you believe in God or maybe you don’t, but it is essential that you believe in something beyond your ego. There is a greater existence which is always present and which can help us. The problem which most of us have when we think about God, is the tendency to think of God in very religious terms and often this is hard for people to take. But we can also think about God as transpersonal being of which we are a part of and which is beyond us. Whichever way we look at it, when we try to fix everything ourselves, we struggle and suffer because our little ego can only achieve so much. But when we ask for help from God, or this higher power, suddenly the floodgates open and we receive help, which religious people would call grace. We receive the grace of God. God is always waiting to help us, but God provides us with freedom and we must ask for help. If we try to fix our own problems we become undone, but when we connect with our higher power we do receive some mysterious help, which makes even the most unbearable bearable. Why deny the help of the universe, when you have a problem ask God for assistance. Maybe you cannot cope with your depression, but God can!