The road to recovery can be long and challenging, but you don’t have live with depression. Small steps are key to making big changes.
When you’re suffering from depression you may feel like your life has gone flat. Things that used to help you feel happy no longer have that effect. You may experience irritability, a change in appetite, trouble sleeping, and even difficulty at work. When you're feeling hopeless, helpless, or apathetic over the long term, it can seem impossible to gain your life back. Contrary to common beliefs about depression, you don’t just feel sad. Depression impacts every aspect of your life. But since 15.7 million adults in the U.S. suffer from depression, you’re not alone.
The road to recovery can be long and challenging, but you don’t have live with depression. Small steps are key to making big changes. These tips may help:
Seek social support
When you’re struggling with depression, reaching out to others can seem impossible. You may worry about how others view your depression or you might feel like people isolate themselves from you because of your depression. But whether your withdrawal is self-imposed or created by those around you, seeking social support will empower you to better manage your depression.
Research shows that the right kind of support from helpful and encouraging people can ease the effect of depression and other types of mental illnesses. When you surround yourself with others, they can help you manage negative thinking. These people can also be there as you explore your mental health treatment options.
Reach out to friends and family members for help and support. If you feel uncomfortable sharing your battle with depression with those you know, join a depression support group. Connecting with others will empower you and provide you with the empathy, support, and help you need.
Deal with stress effectively
Are you going through a divorce or major changes at work? Any stress can have negative impacts on your health, but when stress becomes chronic it can lead to episodes of major depression. Stress impacts hormone levels like dopamine and other certain neurotransmitters linked to depression.
You can manage stress by doing these things:
- Be active. Exercise relieves stress and boosts endorphins. It also helps improve your sleep, which is often affected by stress. Don’t really feel like busting it at the gym for hours at a time? Take your dog on a walk. Catch a dance class with a friend, or do yoga first thing in the morning.
- Avoid unnecessary stress. A little stress is inevitable. But, you can work to eliminate as much stress as possible. Say no to obligations or activities that don’t support your life and happiness. Take stock of your priorities, learn to say “no” when it’s appropriate, and avoid people or situations that cause you undue stress.
- Make time for things you enjoy. Whether it’s crafting, writing, or playing a musical instrument, making time for things you enjoy can help take your mind off of your stressors. When you regularly spend time doing things you enjoy, you’ll find it easier to handle stress in your life.
Managing your diet won’t cure depression, but it can help you manage the symptoms. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and alcohol can all damage your mood. Instead, reach for complex carbohydrates like brown rice, oats, and beans. These foods help with depression because they increase serotonin levels in your body, and serotonin lifts your mood.
To boost your mood, you also need protein. Protein plays an important role in healthy serotonin levels. Without protein, complex carbohydrates are less likely to increase serotonin levels unless you take a supplement. Some good sources of protein include turkey, fish, beef, and certain dairy products. So next time you are tempted to eat a brownie, reach for a bit of cheese and whole wheat crackers. You’ll feel better in the long run.
Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep not only increases the risk of depression, but depression makes it difficult to sleep. Although that cycle can feel frustrating, doing everything you can to get enough sleep is important when you’re experiencing depression. In the long run, lack of sleep can lead you to suffer from both physical and mood problems.
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It’s okay to ask for help. You might feel uncomfortable seeking treatment from your doctor or a mental health professional. Don’t! If you had the flu, a doctor would help. The same is true for depression. A medical professional can help you manage your depression with medications and refer you to a mental health professional for therapy as needed.
Living with depression is a difficult journey. Making alterations to your lifestyle and reaching out for help will ease your journey so you can enjoy life again.