There are a lot of articles on the Internet about overcoming depression. They suggest things such as changing your thinking, changing your mood, and voilà! — changing your life. But overcoming depression is not something you do in the blink of an eye. And no article is going to tell you how you can simply “overcome” depression in a few minutes of reading.
Depression is a serious mood disorder that affects millions of people each year. Sadly, most people who suffer from depression never seek treatment for it, fearing about what others may think of them or not having the courage to face change on their own. There remain a lot of misconceptions about depression treatment, how long effective treatment takes, and whether it’s all worth it.
What this article will cover are common themes in effective depression treatment, and some theories on how you can speed the process of depression recovery.
What is Depression?
Since you’re already reading this article, it’s likely you already suffer from depression or know someone who is, so we’ll keep this brief. Depression is just not the occasional feelings of sadness that we all experience from time to time. Instead, it’s a persistent feeling of overwhelming sadness for at least 2 weeks (and usually much longer). It’s the inability to take pleasure in almost any of life’s activities, and feeling run down or lacking the normal energy you had before depression set in. People with clinical depression also often suffer from problems with sleep and eating — physical symptoms that have been going on for as long as the depression itself. There is also an overwhelming sense of hopelessness for most people who experience depression — like this is not simply ever going to get better. Ever.
It’s no wonder a person with depression can’t see overcoming it. It seems hopeless. You talk negatively all the time, not just about yourself, but about others too. It’s not just the blues — it feels like someone has grayed out the world altogether.
Helping Yourself Overcome Depression
So what can you do about it?
In a very positive book about depression, Dr. Michael Yapko persuasively argues in Depression is Contagious that the cornerstone of the majority of people’s depression today is about relationships — or the lack of healthy, good, close relationships in our life. If we have many, close healthy relationships in our lives, it’s hard to be and stay depressed. (In the book, he also discusses the skills a person can learn to improve existing relationships, and find new healthy ones.)
Relationships just don’t fall into our laps, but when we’re depressed, we may specifically isolate ourselves from our existing and new relationships. This is a symptom of the depression. Relationships can help us pull ourselves out of the deepest throes of depression. Finding ways to build our relationship skills and engage with those around us who love us is one key way to overcome depression.