Most of us will suffer from depression at some point. It could be triggered by a traumatic event, such as a relationship breakup, the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. Or it could take the form of experiencing a gradual decline in your enjoyment of life, and a general feeling that things will never get better.
When we sink into the black hole of depression, it can sometimes be hard to get out again. Our waking life may seem so bleak that we seek refuge in sleeping in late and staying in bed all day. But the more we give in to the dark side of depression, the harder it can be to overcome it. Being severely depressed for long periods of time is a terrible way to live. So what can you do if the black dog has got you down?
- Talk to a trusted friend or record your thoughts in a journal.
It’s OK to talk about your problems and seek advice. Depression is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you are human and that we all need a shoulder to cry on now and then. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help if you need it. If you don’t feel like discussing your problems with anyone, recording your feelings and emotional state in a journal can help with the healing process.
- Don’t neglect your grooming and hygiene.
One of the most debilitating things about depression is the feeling that even everyday things have become too difficult. It can be easy to slide into the habit of not brushing your hair or changing your clothes, but keeping up daily grooming is essential to feeling good about yourself again. Getting up at a reasonable hour and having a hot shower can be an instant mood lifter. However much you may want to resist facing the day, it will get easier if you maintain good standards of grooming and hygiene.
- Eat healthy and eat regularly.
When we are suffering from depression, the feeling that nothing matters anymore can lead us to abuse our bodies. We end up binge eating junk food as a way of forgetting our problems. Or maybe we have lost our appetite and don’t feel like eating at all. Needless to say, neither of these extremes are healthy and they can stop us from recovering sooner. Eating an entire tub of ice cream by yourself might make you feel better in the short term, but continually punishing your body by eating too little or too much can lead to health problems down the road, further exacerbating your depression.
- Grab some Vitamin D.
When we are so depressed that we are having trouble getting out of bed each morning, the idea of going for a walk might sound about as appealing as climbing Mount Everest. But numerous studies have shown that getting even a few hours of sun each day can instantly boost your mood.
- Stay connected.
Resist the urge to isolate yourself from others. You may not be up to attending any parties yet, but keep in contact with friends and let them know how you are doing. Chances are they are concerned about you and want to help. It can be difficult for friends and loved ones to watch someone they care about going through so much emotional pain and feeling powerless to do anything about it. Thank them for their concern and maybe suggest ways they can help.
- Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
If you have been depressed for more than a few weeks or are having recurring thoughts of committing suicide, it may be time to see a professional. However, you don’t have to stick with the first therapist you go to. Shop around until you find someone you feel comfortable talking to. Your recovery will go much smoother if you feel that your therapist is genuinely supportive of you.