Wednesday, September 18, 2013

10 Ways to Lessen Depression Symptoms

Let's just face it. Depression sucks! I know this firsthand. I know the highs and lows while keeping a full-time job and trying to raise a normal child. I suffered from anorexia, bulimia nervosa, and alcoholism. I've been in and out of therapy. It took me years to realize and fully understand the damage my mother caused. I never directly experienced physical abuse, but if I did not do what she asked, she would hurt herself in front of me. Emotional abuse is very traumatic and difficult to overcome. I have learned several ways to help me get out of a low period, and I'm here to share 10 of my tips in hopes of helping others through their depression.

  1. Accept your feelings. Don't ignore them. Don't run away, or your feelings can escalate.

  2. Figure out the cause. Learn your triggers and always be aware of them. I have several triggers- a picture of my mother, the Holidays, someone asking me for her without knowing my story, a woman yelling, seeing a mother and daughter laughing together, someone making a decision for me, etc. These triggers took me years to figure out. You must know what will send you spiraling down. It's kind of like listening to the weather report. If you don't listen to it, then you won't know whether to wear a jacket the next day or not.

  3. Be grateful. Start thinking of all the things you do have as opposed to the things you don't have. I made a list and put it on my refrigerator door. When I feel low, instead of reaching for a piece of cake, I read my list. It usually stops me from eating the forbidden foods.

  4. Feel the sadness. Allow yourself to feel sad. If it's OK to feel happy, then it's OK to feel sadness. They are both natural emotions. Don't be afraid of it, or you will bottle it up. I used to ignore my sadness so much that I would later cry for days. Let this emotion out in a safe place and in a safe way.

  5. Get moving. Go for a run, go to the gym. Even if you don't want to, force yourself to do it. Many studies have shown that exercise can lessen the symptoms of depression. There are additional cardiovascular benefits and reduction of other serious diseases. It's a win-win situation.

  6. Trust someone. Talk this out with someone you trust. Depression is something serious. Don't try to do this alone. You must be willing to listen to other people. If you think there is NO ONE in the world who can understand you, you're wrong. You're simply resisting. It took me years to find my therapist. It didn't mean the other therapists weren't any good. I just connected more with my now therapist.

  7. Go outside. Sun does wonders for uplifting your spirits. Seasonal Affective Disorder affects 4 to 6 percent of the US population, according to the Cleveland Clinic. SAD usually causes depression during the winter and autumn months. It will then go away when the sun returns.

  8. Put these emotions into something productive. I write. That's my let out. My therapist once told me to bake and pound bread. Some people do kickboxing, journal, painting, etc. Find your let out.

  9. Laughter is the best medicine. I read funny jokes. Watch a funny movie or an episode of the Simpsons or Family Guy.

  10. Relax/ meditate. I pray quite a bit. It's not for everyone, but it's a form of mediation. Try yoga or just being still for 1 minute and listening to your body's energy.

I still have some very low periods, but they have gotten better. I have to constantly be aware of my emotions, and that's a lot of work. I'd rather do the work than feel the cloud of depression. I hope these tips help you or a loved one suffering from depression.

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