Friday, May 2, 2014

Staying Positive While Depressed

Depression is a common condition; an estimated 10 percent of Americans will suffer from depression at some time in their lives. I suffer from clinical depression. Depression overwhelmed my life with feelings of loneliness, negative thoughts and emotions; I had difficulty going to work, talking to friends and family. My energy levels both emotional and physical were low. My life spiraled out of control. Eventually medication and hospitalization were necessary. They helped stabilize my condition, but staying positive while recovering from depression was difficult. My medication brought some relief, but I spiraled back into deep depression twice, at great cost to my life. I found that staying positive was the only effective way to overcome depression.

How do you stay positive while depressed?

It is difficult. Depression in itself brings negative thoughts; even medication will only ease some of those thoughts. In addition, the stigma, the financial, social and career problems caused by depression left me feeling hopeless. Staying positive is critical to a complete recovery. I keep a small notebook. I record negative thoughts and emotions that occur during my day. I record the time of day, and what I was doing. Then, each night I go through my notebook and look for patterns, or triggers to the negative thoughts and emotions. I replace the negative thought in my journal with a positive one that I wished or could have thought. The negative thoughts cause the negative emotions, so the idea is to train or reprogram your mind to have positive thoughts, which in turn create positive emotions. By writing down the negative thoughts and developing a plan for how to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts, I was ready for them when they occurred.

Negative thoughts overwhelm me; I can't get them out of my mind let alone replace them with positive thoughts. What can I do?

It's like a catch 22. I needed to stop thinking negatively, but my brain wanted to hold on to the negative thoughts. I wanted a break from it. I found two things that brought relief from constant flow of negative thoughts and emotions I was experiencing- laughter and exercise. I developed a routine that incorporated both into my life. As my routine progressed, relief from the negative thoughts lasted longer. My ability to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts increased, and instead of spiraling down deeper into depression, I progressed further up into happiness

Laugh? All I want to do is cry, How can I laugh?

For me, it was watching sitcoms. They brought a half-an hour or so of relief everyday. I watched them before going to work, and after work, eventually my overall mood improved and the people around me reacted more positively to me. It was like a chain reaction, I became happier. I started the day happy and ended it with a smile. I stopped watching dramas and the news. Both paint a depressing picture of the world. What worked for me may not work for you. You might try having dinner with a fun friend, writing a funny story, playing with your dog or cat, but laugh. The old saying, laughter is the best medicine holds especially true for depression.

Exercise? I have no energy, it is a struggle to get out of bed, how do I exercise?

The key, start slowly. First, I walked around the block, and added a few steps each day. Eventually I was could walk three miles. I picked a pleasant route. So that I it was a pleasurable journey. I picked one with lots of people, trees and relaxing scenery. After the walk, I rewarded myself. The walks cleared my mind from the emotional clutter. My energy levels increased; I could walked further each day, and my outlook on life improved. The important thing is to start small, and get a routine going. Walking worked for me, but swimming, biking, running, even household chores, might work for you, but get your body moving.

Staying positive while depressed is critical for recovery. When overwhelmed with negative emotions It's difficult to stay positive, but it's something you must do. Three of the most effective ways to stay positive while depressed are journaling, laughing and exercising.

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