Thursday, January 9, 2014

How to Break the Depression Cycle

Depression affects millions of people every year. I suffered from depression for many years, trying to feel "normal" again was a daunting task. I spent thousands on doctors, therapy, hospitalization and medications, which helped but it just wasn't enough. I never really felt happy, like I had at a younger age, until I incorporated simple day-to-day changes in my routine that I was able to break the cycle of depression.

Changes you can make in your life to help break the cycle of depression:

  1. Avoid triggers that cause negative thoughts and emotions - Sounds simple, but it takes hard work. First, start a journal. Write down all the negative thoughts and feelings you had during the day, try to remember what triggered them. Ask yourself who you were with? Where were you? Look for patterns, common denominators. When you find these triggers to negative thoughts try to avoid them, or work to come up with new ways to think about them.

  2. Change - Find new hobbies, ones that make you feel good and help to take your mind off the negative thoughts associated with depression. Set new rules for yourself to stay away from bad habits that keep you stuck in the cycle of depression. Find these habits by journaling. If you're stuck in a cycle of depression, change your environment. Try to paint your rooms with brighter colors, take a different route to work, try a different restaurant, or find new hobbies. Change can help shake off the old stale ways of doing things that keep you in a pattern of negativity.

  3. Schedule your activities around bad and stressful experiences - Don't let life's difficulties derail your achievements. When life throws you a monkey wrench, such as a death of a friend or family member, financial loss, or divorce; Schedule positive and relaxing activities around the event. Don't let yourself slip.

  4. Laugh - Find something that makes you smile, or laugh everyday. Make it a routine to do this and stick with it. You'll find that not only will you feel better, but also the people you interact with will react more positively to you.

  5. Exercise and diet - Develop a daily exercise plan and stick to it. The chemicals released when you exercise help to promote positive thought and feelings. Positive thinking is one of the best ways to break the cycle of depression. Make sure that you eat right, drink lots of water, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates and proteins.

  6. Don't isolate - Stay connected with friends and relatives. But be wary of whom you associate, stay away from negative thinkers and anyone that reinforces the negative thinking patterns that you're trying to break. If you are like me and have associated yourself with negative friends, try taking a class, or volunteering, talk to a therapist, but get positive feedback and stay away from negativity.

It took years of trial and error for me to break the cycle of depression. If I had known how effective these simple changes would have been to my overall well-being, perhaps I would have recovered and stayed happy sooner. It took many years of failures, trial and error before I finally achieved the happiness I feel today. The important thing is to keep trying, making changes in your daily routine and staying positive and healthy.

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