If you’re reading this page, you probably relate to the struggle with depression. It’s one of the most difficult things you could go through, and you have my deepest sympathy and love. I want to help you in the midst of this struggle, so here are 3 steps to overcome depression!
I like to think that depression is one of the most relatable struggles. I know many different people who live with it every day. Rich people, poor people, broke people, people in debt. The young, the old, the old and young at heart. Depression spans all races, all classes, and every social group.
I’ve sat across from wildly successful businesspeople and shared my struggles. They immediately soften and nod gently. “I know exactly what you mean.” Then, they tell me of anxiety attacks and days spent entirely in bed, unable to get up.
I’ve spoken to young, wild middle schoolers who seem to have no cares in the world. They lean forward and, darting their eyes up and down nervously, confide that they wake up with a sense of despair every morning.
I’ve met young people just starting their own lives. After moving out and gaining a sense of independence, they also gain a sense of hopelessness. Everything seems meaningless, and they don’t know where to turn.
If you’re not sure if you are depressed, one of the best things you can ever do is see a doctor, counselor, or therapist. I wrote an article about some of the common symptoms of depression. Feel free to check it out and see how many of them match.
The most important thing to know is that you’re not alone. Chances are, many people around you can relate to what you’re going through.
Depression is impossibly hard, but you can pull through it. Here are 3 helpful tips to fight back against depression.
1. Return to Doing What You Love
Most people who become depressed stop doing things that make them happy. I recently interviewed several people who face depression on a regular basis. They reported that depression makes them stay in more often, have more difficulty getting out of bed, and ignore phone calls/texts.
One of the first steps to battling depression is to return to doing what you love. If you love painting, paint more. If you love spending time outdoors, go outside. If you love scuba diving, renew your dive membership. If you love watching wrestling with your brother, call your brother and set a date.
When struggling with depression, I’ve found it helpful to plan my weeks in advance. I’m not a planner by nature. In fact, I’m a very spontaneous person. But spontaneity can become a silent killer, because it is based on your emotions. And depression is an emotion that makes you want to stay home, in bed.
You may feel like you don’t enjoy your favorite activities as much as you used to. You may even feel guilt surrounding these activities. You might feel like you shouldn’t be doing fun things, because you should be doing something else. If you plan to do something and then forget or avoid it, you may feel guilt over not doing what you planned to do.
Push through the guilt, and push through the emotions. They’re all lies. The important thing is that you do more of what you love this week than you did last week. That’s all.
Having someone else to keep you accountable can be a great help.
2. Get Back on a Regular Sleep Schedule
When you’re depressed, a regular sleep schedule can go out the window. I recently asked a question on Facebook: “For those who struggle with depression: what is the biggest challenge you face?” So many people replied that getting out of bed is an incredible struggle:
It’s so hard to get up when you feel like the weight of the world is against you.
I had the opposite experience… I am a “high functioning” depressed person. This means that it’s very hard to tell from the outside when I am struggling. I am able to go through a day very “normally”. So depression usually gives me insomnia. I think there is some anxiety in there, too. I lie awake, worrying and wondering, too upset to sleep.
Even if you don’t feel like it, a regular sleep schedule can work wonders to help with depression. Forcing yourself to go to bed early (without any technology—the light will keep you awake) helps reset your body.
Avoiding naps during the day can also help a lot. That will make sure your body is tired enough to go to sleep the next night.
Unfortunately, it can take some time to reset your sleep schedule. But the effects will absolutely be worth it.
3. Fight Back Against Depressive Ruminations
If you’re struggling with depression, you will experience behavioral, physical, and cognitive symptoms. The cognitive symptoms include what psychologists refer to as “ruminations”—thoughts that run through your mind over and over again without ever being resolved. Here are a few common depressive ruminations. See if you recognize these patterns of thought.
- Black and White Thinking: You see things in two categories, when there are actually other options. For example, something must be perfect or it’s a failure.
- Catastrophising: You think of something as being a disaster, when it isn’t. Making a mountain out of a molehill.
- Fortune Telling: You anticipate that events will turn out badly, and you consider this prediction to be an already-established fact.
- Disqualifying the Positive: You reject positive experiences by insisting they “don’t count” for some reason or another.
- Personalisation: You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event, which in fact you were not primarily responsible for.
- Harsh Judgment (of self): You are much quicker to judge (and condemn) yourself than you would anyone else. You are highly self critical – you lack compassion and fairness towards yourself.
Dealing with depressive ruminations can help you get your mind out of the depressive cycle. When you feel yourself sinking into a rumination, fight back. These thoughts are not true, and they don’t have to control you.
For me, it’s been helpful to actually write down these ruminations. Taking a journal with me, using my phone, or even drawing a picture of the thought has made a huge difference.
During a particularly difficult time in my life, I would write down the depressive ruminations I was experiencing every single night before I went to bed. My little gray journal became my confidant. And slowly, I began to fight the thoughts in my head.
You’re Worth the Fight
You’re worth so much more than your depression whispers in your ear. You have one life, and it is a beautiful gift. When depression rears its head, fight back!
If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, I believe these three tips will help. If you’re not sure if you’re struggling with depression, check out your symptoms here.
It’s scary to admit that you have depression. But taking the time to get the help you need is the best thing you can do.
Talk to a doctor or counselor soon. Or, you can call one of these hotlines:
The U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call this number immediately. They will help!
Kristin Brooks Hope Center Hopeline: 1-800-784-2433
These are kind people who can help you cope with depressed feelings.
Also, always feel free to contact me if you have any questions! With love,