Do you know anyone with depression, or are you dealing with depression yourself? Depression is a mood disorder; a mental illness that affects our mind's ability to handle our own emotions. It can make you feel alone when in fact, you are one of 20 million people dealing with depression in any given year. Some of the symptoms include changes in sleep and/or appetite, mood swings, changes in weight, loss of interest in things you enjoy, and lack of concentration.
There are treatments for depression, ranging from counseling to medications but learning to cope gives you the strength to see that living with depression is more about your right to feel alive; rather than the depression controlling you.
Developing Coping Skills
1. Learn to set boundaries - Boundaries are simply personal restrictions that you assert when someone asks you to do something you know you can’t. Too many obligations restrict your self-care routine which makes learning to say no vital to your emotional health.
2. Write in a journal or diary - expressing your feelings helps when your life overwhelms you and helps improve your state of mind. Journaling also has the added benefit of helping you track your mood and you can learn what influenced your mood when it’s at its worst and adjust your coping skills accordingly.
3. Remember you are not alone - There are groups ranging from one on one counseling to different types of group therapy where you meet other people who are managing depression. Support groups provide understanding when some people you may know don’t understand what you are going through. Organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) often have more information on groups in your area.
4. Learn to manage stress – Activities like meditation, yoga, or going for a walk naturally increase the amount of feel-good chemicals in your brain, which in turn reduces stress and promotes positive well-being. Deep breathing, tai chi or any other relaxing activity helps reduce stress by allowing your thoughts to focus on something else.
5. Knowledge is Power – Reading self-help books geared toward people with depression and visiting similar websites does give you a sense of power; the same power that a mental illness like depression takes away. Since these books and websites also offer more tips and coping skills; the more you know, the more you grow.
6. Take Control by Boosting Yourself– Doing things like eating right, exercising and creating a good routine by going to bed the same time every night and then waking up the same time during the day, boosts your self-image and self-confidence. Using positive affirmations, taking care of yourself and living your life proves to yourself that depression is manageable.
7. The Best Medicine – Laughter is good medicine because like exercise, it releases those feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Humor lifts your spirit and boosts your mood which reduces depression and stress.
These were just a few coping skills that have helped many others manage depression and feel a renewed sense of well-being. Living with depression doesn’t mean living alone in the dark and there’s a beautiful anonymous quote that expresses this sentiment perfectly:
“Perhaps the butterfly is proof you can be in a dark place but still come out as something beautiful.”