How to survive Depression
First and foremost, if the symptoms of depression are making your want to end your life contact your doctor/therapist/mental health professional as soon as possible.
The symptoms of a depressive episode can sneak up on us. Quite often we begin feeling a little “blah”, maybe a little unmotivated. Going out with your friends seems exhausting. You start to blame yourself for not returning phone calls of loved ones or feeling too tired to play with the kids. You start feeling bad about yourself and maybe isolate more and more from others. You think it can’t be depression because you aren’t necessarily “sad” and there really isn’t anything to feel “sad” about. If you could only get up and start exercising, return those phone calls or hang out with your friends-you’re sure you’d feel better. You start piling on more and more negativity about yourself. You start to believe that this is all of your own making and should just be able to will yourself to feel better again.
This is the tricky nature of depression. It somehow makes us believe we are to blame for our illness. On top of that-as a society we have equated “depression” with “sadness” and those words are not interchangeable. Yes, depressive symptoms can include feelings of sadness. However-it also causes apathy-or a lack of emotion. Many people experiencing depression say it’s more an absence of feeling than actual sadness. It can also make us feel embarrassed or ashamed that we don’t feel happy-especially when there has been nothing to feel sad about-no death in the family, job loss, or other significant upheaval that society tells us it’s ok to feel sad about.
So-here are some guidelines for surviving depression. Hopefully not just surviving-but getting yourself back.
-Recognize it for what it is: Realizing the cause of how you’re feeling is important to getting better. Recognizing it can lead to getting the help you need. It’s important to understand and accept that depression is an illness. Just as a diabetic cannot “will” their blood sugar back within normal range, you cannot “will” yourself out of depression.
-Be kind to yourself: Stop criticizing yourself. Many of us were brought up to believe that “tough love” is all that’s needed to get one out of the dumps and motivated to do better. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Pat yourself on the back for the small victories-if your day consisted of getting out of bed, brushing your teeth, then proceeding to go back to bed; it’s ok to feel good about brushing your teeth! With depression, those seemingly small things are really hard to do sometimes and it’s ok to feel proud that your biggest activity of the day is taking a shower.
-Let other people in: This might be one of the hardest on the list. Something about experiencing depression tends to make us shrink away from everyone else in our life-especially those who care about us the most. Our brains tell us things like “I don’t want to bring them down”, “They don’t want to hear about what’s going on with me” or “They’re probably mad I haven’t called them back-I’m sure they don’t want to hear from me now”. Being able to get past these negative thoughts and actually let people know how you’re feeling is incredibly beneficial and effective in combating depression.
-Get help: If your symptoms are making it hard to function and are getting in the way of your relationships and work-it’s important to seek professional help. Depression does not just go away on it’s own. It is not a sign of weak character or laziness. It’s an illness that needs to be treated.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? If so, you might be experiencing depression. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced Orlando counselors.