“Monica, we’ll watch your favorite movie tonight. Your dad has got your favorite chips and cupcakes.”
Monica’s mother said, trying to cheer her up. But Monica faked a smile and went to other room.
Her parents were worried. Monica was a bright student and a multi-talented kid. But it’s been days since she turned unusually quiet and sluggish. Not only this but also she was not eating well, not sleeping, couldn’t focus on her studies, and became irritable. Even her favorite games and hobbies didn’t excite her anymore.
What made an enthusiastic child transform this way? Why do people who are cheerful and optimistic suddenly turn quiet, feel helpless, worthless, or hopeless?
Collectively, all the above including Monica’s change are some signs and symptoms of depression. A common mental health issue, depression hits one in every three people at some point in their lives.
Feeling sad and dejected is normal, when someone has undergone adverse incidents in life such as major life changes, disappointment, loss, or stress. Mostly with time, such feelings are resolved and you continue with normal routine, enjoying everyday life. It is not depression. However, when you are in depression; the things that used to boost you up don’t excite you anymore and you find it impossible to do the same. The deep despair and hopelessness takes over positivity.
If you or your loved one needs help in this case, here are some tips that lead to the road to recovery.
Steps to Cope with Depression
- Reach Out and Stay Connected
Support is instrumental in overcoming this challenging phase. Maintaining a healthy mindset on your own becomes too tough to beat depression. Don’t feel ashamed, guilty, weak, or exhausted to open up with someone you trust, and don’t isolate yourself. This is life and everyone faces bad, depressing, and tough times beyond understanding.
Stay connected to people and partake in social activities. Don’t be afraid of being judged. Your loved ones care for you. They can not only be from your family but also your friends, colleagues, neighbors, anyone. Helping hands and ready to listen to ears are always there. Shoulders to cry on are also there, if you feel like washing out the things inside you. All you need to do is to reach out and your support system will be there.
- Indulge in “Feel Good” Activities
Take up activities that refuel the enthusiasm in you. Do things that make you happy and relax you. Even if you don’t feel like, push yourself towards your hobbies, sports, or other activities you like. You will be surprised to realize how good you feel about doing so. Depression won’t go away in a finger snap but your efforts will make you feel more energetic and upbeat.
Learn to manage stress, sleep well (at least 6-8 hours), eat healthy, swim, workout, dance, meditate, try yoga, meet friends, and visit your favorite places. No matter, how much sheets invite you to sulk; ditch them. Let the sunlight in, tidy up your bed and don’t hop on it apart from sleeping. Take a nice bath, dress up well, go shopping, socialize, practice relaxation techniques, and do whatever makes you happy. All these approaches boost well-being and trigger joy lying deep within.
- Revisit Happy Memories and Goodness in You
Whenever depression starts taking you over, push yourself to happy memories. Small or big, everyone has happy memories or moments. Think about them. Gloom will fade away with a good dose of happiness.
No matter what you think about yourself, keep reminding yourself of your good qualities. Be positive. Tell yourself every day that you are kind, caring, hardworking, dependable, considerate, thoughtful, a fighter and a survivor, or a doting father/loving mother. This trick will curb crushing beliefs about your self-image and you will feel like goodness breaking through.
- Eat a Depression-Fighting Diet
Foods have an important impact on your moods and brain. Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your diet as these foods stabilize your mood. Consume fatty fish like salmon, anchovies, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and cold-water fish oil supplements. Deficiency of B vitamins like B-12 and folic acid can trigger depression. So, increase vitamin B intake with citrus fruits, beans, leafy greens, chicken, eggs, and B-complex vitamin supplements.
Limit your consumption of caffeine, sugar and refined carbs, trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives. Forget about alcohol or any intoxicating item. Don’t skip meals as long intervals between meals can make you feel irritable and tired. So, eat something every three to four hours.
- Seek Professional Help For Depression When…
Even after following self-help approaches and making positive changes in life, you find depression taking you over; get professional help. Depression takes your vision of positivity and negativity leads you to feel like a lost cause. But the treatment can make you feel positive and better, and you will be back to enjoying little things in life.
If you are someone lending a hand to a depressed person, take note what you should say and what you shouldn’t. You need not solve their problem; just be a good listener, be attentive and compassionate without judging them.
- “Cheer up”: You belittle their emotional condition and reject the fact that they are going through immense pain.
- “It’s all in your head”: You disrespect the criticality of their situation and impose that it can vanish by changing their thinking habits.
- “Life isn’t fair”: Those who are depressed have already been through this. These words intensify their belief.
- “Many people have experienced worse than this”: True but it doesn’t change the fact that the person you are talking to is currently going through an emotionally strenuous time. Such words only make them feel ashamed of their feelings.
- Don’t pat advices like go out, think positive etc.”: People have their own way of dealing with depression. They need different approaches to cope up with it.
- Don’t tell them how to cope up with it: Simply telling someone to pretend as if they are not depressed won’t help them. It shows lack of compassion and may make the person feel misunderstood.
- Don’t say harsh words like “you don’t look depressed”, “you are an attention seeker”, “stop feeling sorry for yourself”, “you have such a great life. Feel thankful”. The person is already in severe emotional turmoil. Such words only accentuate it.
- “I’m sorry you are not feeling well. What can I do to help you?”
- “I am listening to you.”
- “I know you are struggling and I really respect/admire you for pushing through this.”
- “What you are going through is real.”
- “You want to take a walk with me?”
- “How can I support you during this difficult time?”
- “Your feelings are valid.”
- “I understand that you are hurting. I’m here for you.”
Most importantly, believe that you are lovable, efficient, and worthy. You know what you are going through and why. If no one is understanding it, let it be. Always forgive, accept, and love yourself. You are precious. Universe needs you. That is why you were created. Be assured that there are people who want to see you, admire you, they know your worth, and remember your accomplishments better than you remember them.
With the steps mentioned above, you will see the mist of depression fading away. Hope, positivity, and happiness will come searching for you.