Depression can be an emotionally draining illness. It is common among sexual abuse survivors. I know, I have been through it many times myself. Many times it is hereditary as in my case (four out of my five sisters has it!). It also can be situational, such as going through a traumatic event, a divorce, losing a loved one, remembering your past abuse, etc.
The cause can be important if you are remembering your past abuse because it is a good time to get into therapy and begin your recovery journey. Sometimes the cause doesn't really matter. What matters is how you treat it and knowing the signs of it should it return.
I have come up with seven ways to assist you in helping to eliminate or reduce your depression.
1) Eat properly : This means, most of all, remember TO eat! With depression, it seems that you either don't want to eat at all or you gorge yourself constantly! The main thing that is important is that you eat healthy nutrients for your body in order for it to help to get back into balance. If you have trouble eating large meals then eat small meals divided up during the day. Remember to eat green vegetables, chicken, fish etc. You need your protein and especially your vitamin B which helps with stress. You can also take a supplement if your doctor doesn't contraindicate it.
2) Get enough sleep: Again, with depression, usually the norm is that you either sleep too little or too much. What we are looking for here is a happy medium! Both too little and too much sleep can make you feel even more depressed! If you aren't tired or you have repetitive thoughts running around in your head, try to read prior to going to bed, watch TV, exercise before bed so that you are tired. Take a hot bath, have your husband or partner give you a massage, use relaxation techniques. Try anything. Remember, don't lie awake in bed if you can't sleep. Get up and do something and then try lying down again. That way you only associate bed with sleep.
3) Get outside: Why? because that puts you back in the world of the living! It is especially helpful for me to go out to the woods and take in all of the scenery with all of the sights and sounds. There is something about hearing birds chirping that helps. Sunshine helps depression so get out in the sun and let it do it's work! Breathe in the fresh air. Even if you have no desire to get off of your sofa or out of your bed, believe me, I have been there and I understand, trust me, you absolutely need to get outside! Go do an errand that needs to be done, even if it is just a small one. You CAN do it if you try!
4) Exercise: Ok, I KNOW that you have heard this one! I used to think "yeah, right! I can't even get the strength to stand up from my chair but you want me to exercise?!!" I hear you loud and clear, but before you completely disregard it, let me inform you that exercise releases endorphins that naturally reduce depression so that it scientifically does help you! When I say exercise, I don't mean that you have to start an aerobics class or anything that intense!! I am talking about just walking around the block to start with..or as far as you can tolerate the first time. Try to increase your endurance and distance every time you walk. You can also try the Wii fitness, if you have it. It can be quite helpful because it offers Yoga as an exercise, which I happen to use. The main point is get your body moving! It may be painful at first..but you definitely will see a difference in the end.
5) Use Relaxation Techniques: If you have not learned how to relax or any easy relaxation techniques, there are many videos out there that will walk you through a full body relaxation and it is something that you can also do for yourself. One example of this is to start at the top of your body, ( your head) tense by the count of three and relax by the count of three, and continue this with every muscle of your body down to your toes until you feel physically relaxed.
Relaxation also applies to whatever it is you do that is your passion. You may not be "feeling" it right now, but attempt to try it. Going through the motions can sometimes be helpful. Write in a journal, paint, go fishing, listen to music, dance...whatever it is to you that can give you peace of mind, even for a moment. Go to your "place of peace" or an imaginary place that you feel safe, secure and free of stress. Basically, it means try to imagine yourself in a place where you feel the most comfortable and safe. Imagine it and memorize it to the fullest detail. This will be helpful for you when you get stressed out. You can mentally take yourself back to that place quickly with practice!
6) Pet a pet: Sound simple? Well, it is! Research has shown that people who have pets are less stressed. Think about how relaxing it is to pet a cat or dog. They love you unconditionally and only want to please you. What more could you want? More and more hospitals, nursing homes, etc. are allowing "pet therapy" for their residents because they realize it's value. Try it for yourself. You will be glad you did!
7) Act "As if..": Most people who are in any type of recovery program knows only too well what this saying means! To explain it.. it means even if you are feeling completely depressed, try as hard as you can to act "as if" you aren't depressed. Go through the motions of your daily life. It is important to keep up your routine. Depressed people tend to get out of their normal routine and find it difficult to resume it sometimes. This does not mean that you will automatically feel completely wonderful and not depressed anymore, however, it does set you on a path of some purpose and routine. I know for myself, this is NOT easy! But, you can't say it doesn't work unless you give it a try, right?
I have listed seven simple ways to help you to decrease or alleviate your depressive symptoms if you choose to use them. I hope you will give them a try. You have the tools, now it is up to you whether or not you choose to use them.
Good luck and think positive. Thinking positive also has a great deal to do with how you feel!
Blessings to all of you!