Handling depression seems like an oxymoron, isn’t it out of your control?
Disclosure: This post may or may not be sponsored or contain an affiliate link. If you click through a link and make a purchase, it may or may not earn me a small commission. At no additional cost to you! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Yes and no. As someone who has battled depression for the majority of my life, I can honestly say that there are times that you can handle it and times that you cannot. While the emotions themselves may not be controllable, the way that you handle them is.
What do I mean by that? For starters, there is a difference between actual chemical deficiencies in your brain that can cause clinical depression or other disorders. Being bipolar or other mental health problems are different than generalized depression or anxiety disorders. In those cases medication and professional help are necessary.
Depression can have many causes.
If you don’t fall under those categories, you may be depressed. However, you could also simply be sad. Clinical depression is characterized by
Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness
Behavioral: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, restlessness, or social isolation
Sleep: early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep
Whole body: excessive hunger, fatigue, or loss of appetite
Cognitive: lack of concentration, slowness in activity, or thoughts of suicide
Weight: weight gain or weight loss
Also common: poor appetite or repeatedly going over thoughtsMayo Clinic.
True depression is feelings of sadness but on a grander scale. Different life circumstances can cause depression such as the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, there is postpartum depression, and depression caused by trauma, to name a few.
If you are here I am assuming that you have been having feelings of depression, and if so that is okay! Having negative feelings is a part of being alive, but how you handle those feelings is another matter entirely.
What are bad ways to handle depression?
Well, there’s a lot! As the Mayo Clinic described, there is agitation, loss of sleep, excessive sleep, weight gain, weight loss, and so on.
Other things not mentioned but I have previous experience with are risky behavior, trying to numb those feelings, and the obsessive feelings of hopelessness. Have you had experience with any of these?
When depression hits it feels as if you can never get out of the hole that you are in. So you do one of two things, give up completely, or fight tooth and nail to make the pain stop. Both are understandable, and both can be destructive.
Channel those negative emotions into positive activities.
When I was in my deepest depression (after trying to both give up and fight like hell to get out) I finally learned how to channel those feelings into something good. That can look different for everyone but I will list a few things that helped me.
Years ago, even before I quit drinking, I knew I wanted to start taking better care of myself. What that looked like at the time was sometimes the bare minimum, like drinking a glass of water. But one small act of good would many times lead to more.
Once I began drinking more non-alcoholic beverages like herbal tea, I added in healthy food. More things like fruit, vegetables, and heart-healthy grains. It took me a few years but eventually, I added in exercising daily, consuming self-help books, meditating, practicing gratitude, and so on.
Handle depression one day at a time.
Like when my husband and I got sober, we took it one day at a time. Depression is like that. Some days you can hardly get out of bed, and other days you can even feel fine (even if you’re kind of not). Once you build up a routine of healthy habits, you can begin to lean on those to help you get through the worst days.
If I tried to listen to Gabby Bernstein or write a book 10 years ago, I would have been too distracted to be able to do it. In truth, it took me nearly 10 years to even try to stop being miserable most of the time. But once I did I was able to do it rather quickly!
It’s about making the decision to stop feeling those feelings and handle them in a healthy manner. No one can make you do it but yourself, but like addiction, it starts with first admitting that there is a problem.
If you want a peek into my head and some of the struggles and corresponding morals I’ve learned along the way read my book Fireflies. Reading books was always a favorite healthy escape of mine and I wrote this book with the woman I used to be in mind.
Wishing you well, my friend. It gets better. If you let it.