How to Overcome Depression
Suffering from depression means more than just dealing with a bad week or even a bad month. Depression is a weakening condition that can make it impossible for you to enjoy your daily existence. If you are plagued with feelings of overwhelming sadness, loneliness, worthlessness, and cannot imagine that things will get any better, then you may be suffering from depression. If you want to know how to overcome your depression and enjoy your life again, follow these steps.
Understanding Your Depression
Consult with a doctor.Only after a thorough evaluation with a psychiatrist or psychologist can you be diagnosed with depression. Many illnesses and medications may contribute to depressive feelings. Therefore, your doctor will administer a variety of tests, conduct a physical examination, and an interview to get to the bottom of your symptoms.
Recognize that you're suffering from depression.To overcome your depression, you have to first determine if what you're feeling are the symptoms of depression. Though depression is different for every person, there are a few signs that are hallmarks of the illness. You may have depression, if:
- You feel worthless, helpless, or guilty without knowing why.
- You're feeling hopeless about most aspects of your life and can't imagine that anything will improve for you.
- You feel a decrease in your energy levels and are tired no matter what you do.
- You feel restless at night and have trouble sleeping and/or waking up in the morning.
- You've stopped feeling pleasure doing the activities that used to make you happy, such as spending time with friends, pursuing your hobbies, or being intimate.
- There has been a dramatic change in your sleeping habits, such as insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping.
- You have lost your appetite or are overeating, but cannot stop.
- It is much easier for you to be alone than to put the effort into interacting with others.
- You constantly feel irritable for no reason.
- You have had thoughts of suicide. If you are thinking suicidal thoughts, seek help immediately.
Learn about the possible causes of depression.Although doctors have not narrowed down one clear-cut reason people experience depression, they tend to see this disorder arise in people with common genetic, biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Your doctor might determine any of the following as being a cause of your depression:
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol. If you have a drug or alcohol addiction, then this may be a cause for your depression. A doctor can help you see if you have an addiction and can tell you the next steps.
- Genetic causes. If depression runs in your family, you are more likely to be depressed. You can discuss whether other people in your family have suffered from depression, even if they were never diagnosed; you can also talk to your parents or other family members to see if people in your family had depression without you knowing.
- A hormonal imbalance. If you have a thyroid problem or other hormonal imbalance, it may be causing your depression.
- Another illness. A doctor can help you see if you're suffering from another illness that can cause or precede your depression, such as an anxiety disorder such as OCD, or even a psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.
- A side effect of a medication you are taking. If you're taking a medication for another problem, a doctor can tell you if depression is one of the side effects and may be able to switch you to an equally effective medication without this side effect.
- A seasonal disturbance. Some people experience depression as a result of seasonal changes. For example, symptoms might last throughout the winter each year. This form of depression is referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Search for a situational cause.Before your psychological evaluation, start thinking about some root causes of your depression that may be causing you pain in your everyday life. There's a good chance that specific situations happening in your life, and your reaction to these ordeals, may be contributing to your poor mood. Here are a few things that may be causing or worsening your depression:
- Loss of a friend or loved one. It is normal to grieve after losing someone you care about. However, after a period of time, most people tend to feel better. If your grieving does not seem to lift after months, you may be experiencing depression.
- A failed or unfulfilling romantic relationship. If you are going through a devastating break-up, or are in a relationship that is causing you great pain, then it could be contributing to your depression.
- An unrewarding career. If you feel deeply unhappy, stifled, or even worthless in your current job or throughout your career, then your line of work may be a contributing factor to your depression.
- An undesirable environment. If you live with two screaming, unbearable roommates, or just feel deeply unhappy in your own home or neighborhood, then your environment may be contributing to your depression.
- Financial reasons. Worrying about making your next rent payment or where your next paycheck will come from can be a serious cause of depression if it's a continuing problem.
- "Baby blues." Many women often experience crying spells, anxiety, and mood swings after giving birth. This can be a severe form of baby blues called postpartum depression. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms resemble this condition.
Understand your treatment options.Your doctor will talk to you about possible treatments for your depression. Depending on the severity of your illness, you may require a combination of medication and psychotherapy. While medications can help relieve symptoms, it is still important for depressed persons to understand the disorder and develop healthier strategies for coping with it. Generally, milder forms of depression can be treated with psychotherapy and lifestyle changes.
- Medications proven to be effective at treating depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), atypical antipsychotics, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
- One of the most researched psychotherapy treatments for depression is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of treatment is directed at identifying and changing negative thought and behavior patterns that worsen depressive symptoms. Other therapies useful with depression are acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), psychodynamic therapy, and interpersonal therapy.
- Another treatment option for severe forms of depression (or depression with psychosis) is a brain stimulation procedure called electroconvulsive therapy. This form of treatment is typically utilized if a patient does not respond to medication or psychotherapy.
Start a journal.Starting a journal can help you reflect on your depression and feelings and monitor your sensations throughout the day. Make a goal of writing in your journal at least once a day, preferably in the evenings, when you can wrap up whatever the day brought you. Writing in a journal can make you feel more in touch with your thoughts, less alone, and more aware of the things that make you happy or unhappy.
- Writing in a journal will also help you focus and shut off your mind from all the stressful tasks around you.
Improving Your Life
Eliminate toxic or unhealthy relationships from your life.If they are causing you great pain, then it's time to stop making yourself feel worse. If you cannot eliminate a person, such as a family member, spend as little time with that person as possible.
- If there is something in a relationship that is troubling you, have a serious conversation with the person. If you're feeling depressed because you're convinced your husband is cheating on you or that your best friend is stealing your money, then it's time to confront the person and work towards a solution.
Maintain healthy relationships.Though you may wish to be alone and away from others, it is good for your mood to spend time with others. Rely on your network of friends and family members, as well as your significant other if you have one. Spend as much time as you can hanging out with people who make you feel positive about yourself and the world. Good friends will not only help you cope with your depression by talking about it, but they can make you feel more loved and supported.
- If you have a friend or family member who is suffering from depression, talk to them about it and see what advice they can offer. Just talking to someone who is dealing with the same symptoms can make you feel much less alone.
- If you are in a relationship, make time for romance, or just spending solo time with your significant other. Enjoy yourself and your relationship by scheduling special time to spend with your partner as often as possible.
- Make more time for family. Your family should make you feel loved and supported, so try to spend as much time with them as you can. If your family is across the country, make time for phone calls as much as you can.
Fill your schedule with events and activities you love.Keeping a busy schedule will force you to stay active, focused, and thinking about the next thing on your plate. You can draw up a schedule for each day at the start of the week, or simply plan out each day the night before. Whichever method you choose, make a goal of sticking to it. Here are some things you should make time for:
- Positive and supportive friendships.
- Hobbies and interests.
- Time to decompress, write in your journal, or meditate.
- Time to do something silly that makes you laugh.
- Outdoor activities. Don't spend all of your time indoors. Instead, go out into the sun, or do your normal homework or reading in a coffee shop so you feel less isolated.
Find a new passion.You may not like your current job, but maybe you are not in a position to change your career right now. Finding a new passion can help you feel like you have more of a purpose in life and can give you a reason to wake up in the morning. A passion can be anything you care deeply about, even if it is not something you are good at yet. Here are some great ways to find a new passion:
- Explore your artistic side. Sign up for a watercolor painting, ceramics, drawing, or pottery class.
- Express yourself through writing. Try writing some poetry, a short story, or even the first chapter of a novel.
- Find a new love for learning a foreign language.
- Discover a new sport. Take a class in karate, ballroom dancing, or yoga.
- Discover a new team sport, such as volleyball or soccer. You will find a new passion while making many friends.
- Discover your love for reading by starting a book club.
Be more generous.Turn your life around after depression by being generous to the people you love and the people in your community. Being generous will help you to increase your self-worth and build greater connections with others around you.
- Do a favor for a close friend. It does not have to be major — if your best friend is having a stressful week, you can offer to pick up her lunch or do her laundry. You will feel better for helping.
- Volunteer at your local library. Help adults and children discover the joy of reading.
- Volunteer at a center for senior citizens, youth, or the homeless, and see what a difference you can make.
- Volunteer in your community by helping clean up your local park. Just spending time in nature can help improve your mood.
Developing Healthier Habits
Improve your sleeping habits.Improving your sleeping habits can be a drastic improvement for your mental health.Work on finding a sleep schedule that works for you. Here are some things that you can do:
- Start going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and night. This will make you feel more well rested and will make it easier for you to fall asleep and wake up.
- Start your day off on the right foot. Spring out of bed and drink a glass of water right away instead of hitting snooze five times before you roll out of bed.
- Develop an effective pre-sleep routine. Wind down in the hour before bed by shutting off your television, putting away your phone or tablet, avoiding loud noises, and reading in bed.
- Limit or eliminate caffeine from your diet, especially after noon. Caffeine will make it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Avoid taking naps that are longer than half an hour, unless you need them — they will only make you feel groggy and more tired.
Exercise.Exercising for just thirty minutes a day will have a dramatic impact on your physical and mental health. Exercising can give you more energy and make you feel more motivated throughout the day.Find an exercise plan that works for you and stick to it.
- Even taking a walk for just 20 minutes a day can help you get some exercise while you reflect.
- Find a gym or workout friend. This will make the experience more enjoyable.
- Set a goal when you work out. Maybe you can have a goal of training for a 5K, or learning how to do a tricky yoga pose.
Improve your diet.Eating a healthy, balanced diet can also help you beat depression. Even if you're losing your appetite, you need to be determined to eat three meals a day. You don't need to try to lose weight or be incredibly healthy-conscious when you're dealing with your depression, but eating healthier food regularly will improve your mental and physical state.
- Don't skip meals — especially not breakfast. Eating three meals a day will give you the energy you need to stay positive and focused.
- Add more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Substitute them for sugary snacks or unhealthy junk food.
- Make sure to eat a balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish and lean protein every day.
- Let yourself splurge occasionally. You will feel better if you give in to your cravings sometimes.
Think positively.Being a more positive thinker will help you look at your life and world in a way that fills you with hope instead of despair. To think more positively, you should learn how to recognize your negative thoughts and to fight them with stronger positive thoughts whenever you can. For a jump start on positive thinking, find at least five things to be grateful for and happy about every single day.
- Try keeping a notebook full of things that you love or make you happy. Every day, write down three or more things, and every week, read about the things you love. This will show you the upside in life and will help you to focus on the positive over negative.
- If you act more positively, you will think more positively. Make a point of talking about the positive things in your life and spending time doing things that make you feel good.
- If you spend more time praising the things that make you smile and less time thinking about the things that upset you or that you don't like, you will think more positive thoughts. Even telling yourself, "Today will be a great day!" or "It's ok, I'm having an awesome day. You can't mess it up!" Can lighten your mood significantly. Always remember to smile, it can make you happier, even if you aren't happy.
Improve your appearance.Neglecting personal hygiene is a common side effect of depression.While you will not beat your depression by transforming your looks, if you take time to maintain your appearance and hygiene every day, you will feel better about yourself. Shower daily and brush your teeth and hair.
- Work on looking presentable when you face the world, no matter how awful you feel. This will improve your confidence and self-worth.
- If you think that being overweight is a cause of your depression, then setting a goal to improve this aspect of your appearance will improve your mood and outlook.
QuestionI overcame major depression a year ago but I still get upset and offended easily, I also cry often when I feel offended but I don't want want to tell my parents (I'm 13) or take the meds because I don't sleep when I take them. Help?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerRecovery has a lot of ups and downs, and it sounds like you've hit a pretty hard down. Different medications work differently, and it sounds like you could use one with more tolerable side effects. Explain to your parents that the meds don't let you sleep, and ask for a doctor appointment so you can try a new type of meds. They can see you struggling; they just might not know what to do. Write down your current symptoms and your side effects, show the doctor, and ask for their advice.Thanks!
QuestionIs losing self confident is it sign of depression?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLoss of self confidence can be a sign among many that you may have depression. Talk to your parents or other family members about your feelings so that you can get the support and help you may need.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I feel and enjoy life?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGet outside and walk for at least half an hour each day. Play with children more often. Spend more time with loved ones and friends. Focus on doing something you love, whether it's a hobby, work or volunteering. Allow yourself to express your feelings, even the sad and negative ones because sometimes letting them out sets them free and allows you to feel better again. Don't compare your life's experience to others; in that way, you are less inclined to feel that you're missing out on anything.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I tell my parents I might have depression?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPick a time when you can really sit down and talk to one another without rushing. Start by telling your parents you have something important to tell them and that you need help with it. Describe how you have been feeling and say "I think I might have depression," then talk about ways you can get through it together.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I avoid the stress of school work and tests?wikiHow ContributorCommunity Answer1. Sleep. Go to bed early. Shut off all electronic devices. Take naps when you can. 2. Exercise. Join a gym, or take regular walks in the park or take up a sport you love. 3. Listen. Explore classical music or learn to play a musical instrument. 3. Detach. Schedule a "fun hour" every day to get you away from all school work.Thanks!
QuestionI have very poor family relationships and my best friends have all passed away. My boyfriend left me. I am very isolated in my feelings and no one wants to listen. Time for therapy?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSorry for your trauma and loss. You are more than isolated in your feelings though, you are isolated socially and it is so important to get some people to help you. If you can, do go for therapy for as long as you feel you . If no one wants to listen to you, you can always blog. Search some topics on google and you will find so many topics being written about by bloggers. They feel like they have found company in readers. Try finding happiness while meditating, using self-care and volunteering, as you prefer.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I overcome depression?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTalk to a professional counselor or therapist, surround yourself with positive, supportive people and recognize that overcoming depression is a process that takes time and will challenge you each day. Make commitments to make small changes every day to improve over time.Thanks!
QuestionCan depression also be a lack of emotions? For instance, I don't really feel happy about much, but I also don't feel fear or sadness or anger.wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNumbness, along with other symptoms, can (but not always) mean depression.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I tell my parents that I think I am OCD and a maladaptive daydreamer?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerDon't be hard on yourself. examine your situation and decide what emotions and feelings are driving your discontent. Be open and honest and not confrontational or angry. If you are concerned you might be a danger to yourself or others, talk to friends or a crisis counseling line. You might pop this question to one of them, and get as much input from different sources as you feel you need.Thanks!
QuestionI failed the board exams and I am surrounded by people who are still studying and people who passed, my family is calling me a failure. I don't know where to go from here, what can I do?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAccepting failure is the first step, you understand that you failed but try it again, until you are able to achieve your goal is the best way to overcome, you need to flow with the things that are happening to you, just learn from it and be better the next time. Don't give up -- immediately enroll in the year again, get a tutor and hit the books to improve yourself. Realize that your family is afraid for your future and is using a bad tactic to try to help you -- seen in this light, you might realize they still love you but have fear as well.Thanks!
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