10 Tips for fighting Depression
Laughter really is the best medicine. Studies show that simply smiling will send serotonin levels soaring, making you feel better physically and putting you in a happy mood.
I’ll start the ball rolling for you.
Q: Why did the dog sit under the shade tree?
A: Because he didn’t want to be a hot dog!
Groan, I know…Find something funnier than me. 🙂
2. Slow down
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Believe me, I do. “No way, Carrie, that’s impossible. Don’t you think I would, if I could?”
I’m not saying you need to take a weekend retreat, or set aside 15 minutes every day for yourself, or any number of other pat suggestions I’ve read about over and over that involve YOU finding more time for YOU.
What you really need to do is step back and objectively look at your life, and your commitments and realize that you have to say no sometimes.
It’s not really about finding more time for yourself, it’s about saying no sometimes to other people and other “obligations” (think dusting, dirty dishes, fertilizing the yard, making all those perfect little gingerbread men cookies for your child’s class Christmas party)
Not everything in your life that you feel MUST be done right now, really MUST be done.
3. Focus on the good things
It may sound cliché, but there is often at least a bit of truth behind every cliché. When we focus all of our attention on the negatives in our lives, we forget about the positives
Step back and really take a moment to evaluate your life and all the positive things that are in it.
Even just the simple hope of another day to try again can be enough to make you smile.
4. Smell something
Breathe in and soothe your mood with aromatherapy using concentrated essential oils from plants. Those that may help include clary sage, bergamot, geranium, lavender, lemon and rose.
Dilute them with vegetable oil and massage into your skin, add a few drops to the bath or warm them over a diffuser (the heat will spread the scent throughout the room).
5. Eat the right foods
Certain vitamins and nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, change the brain chemistry that affects your mood.
Fatty cold-water fish, such as salmon are one of the best sources of omega-3s that help fight depression.
B vitamins – especially B6, B12 and folic acid – may also help. Good sources include sunflower seeds, oranges, beets and leafy green vegetables.
Vitamin D offers a double dose of nutritional goodness. It can cut the risk of osteoporosis and relieve symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a depression that typically occurs in winter, when there are fewer hours of sunshine.
What we found with my daughter was a severely decreased appetite. Her medication exacerbated this problem and her weight went down. I supplement her diet with health shakes with extra protein powder added, fruit smoothies that I make in my blender, and fresh salads (which I discovered go down much easier with a dose of bacon flavored ranch dressing! Apparently it’s true, bacon DOES make everything better)
6. Avoid Alcohol
Alcohol is actually a central nervous system depressant. Though a drink every now and then may help you feel relaxed (that’s the depressant working!), it will NOT help raise your spirits.
Please realize that there is a difference between being relaxed and being happy.
Also, people with clinical depression are more prone to addiction. If you suspect you might be clinically depressed, please avoid alcohol use all together.
7. Don’t deny grief or loneliness
The death of a loved one – especially after the first year or two – can trigger depression and loneliness.
The same holds true for divorce, if your children are with the ex, you lose a job, or a close friend or family member has moved away. There are countless losses that people experience that can cause grief or loneliness.
For some people, when their spouse divorces them it feels almost like they have died. They may actually go through the grieving process and often feel like no one around them understands. The same can be true when a child moves out of the house.
Suicide rates go up alarmingly among people who have suffered a severe loss in the preceding year.
First acknowledge that you’re missing someone and share your feelings with a trusted friend or family member.
Often, the people around us don’t realize that grief often and usually lasts for at least a year. They may comfort us for a month or so, but after that, it seems they expect us to move on now, get over it, start over.
Seek out a support group. No matter how much they should, you will often find that those around you will never be able to understand your pain. Seek out a local grief, divorce, or other kind of support group. And empty nester’s support group, or any number of other groups which can help.
Check out Meetup.com for groups in your area. http://www.meetup.com/
8. Know yourself
If you’re still having trouble beating the blues, you may be clinically depressed. See a doctor if you have at least six of the following 10 symptoms:
• Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety or emptiness
• Decreased appetite and weight loss
• Insomnia, waking up early in the morning or oversleeping
• Fatigue or less energy
• Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
• Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness or excessive guilt
• Loss of interest or pleasure in once-enjoyable activities
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering and making decisions
• Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
9. Talk to a Doctor
He can determine if medication is right for you. Clinically depressed people have a chemical imbalance in their brains, a deficiency of neurotransmitter – serotonin and norepinephrine which regulate your mood.
You do not have to go to a psychiatrist for a prescription of anti-depressants. Your family physician, nurse practicioner, or physician’s assistant can diagnose and prescribe medication for clinical depression.
However, for severe depression and/or complicated side effects, it is recommended, and I highly suggest, you see a psychiatrist. Our PA monitored my daughter’s depression and Prozac levels for almost a year, but when her dosage kept needing to be increased causing her to begin suffering migraine headaches, he (correctly) referred us to a psychiatrist.
The psychiatrist quickly took control, decreased her Prozac level, which ended the migraines, and added a second medication, a mood stabilizer, which did exactly what its name implies. After only three months with the psychiatrist, we were able to correctly identify her medication and dosage needs.
*** A word on insurance. I found it almost impossible to locate a psychiatrist who would treat children and also was accepted by my insurance plan. Both Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma have world class child mental health departments, but my plan would not accept them!
If you also have trouble, I suggest calling your insurance company directly and telling them of your needs.
This is finally what I had to do, and although completely frustrating and infuriating that our plan would not accept the most prestigious and recommended child psychiatrists in our area, I must say the customer service rep DID work diligently at locating a psychiatrist that they DID accept.
And in the end, I wouldn’t trade my daughter’s psychiatrist for any other. If your insurance company is being difficult, then let THEM do the work for you.
10. Get counseling
Research shows that medication and therapy together are more effective at managing depression than either by itself!
Think of the relationship between your doctor and therapist like this: Imagine a Diabetes patient going to their doctor for insulin and medical testing, and going to a nutritionist for help understanding and managing their diet. Imagine a patient with a shattered knee cap going to their doctor for diagnosis, surgery, casting, x-rays, etc. and going to their physical therapist for help strengthening their muscles.
The doctor/therapist relationship is every bit as vital to a person suffering from Clinical Depression. Yet so many people will try to convince you that you don’t need one or the other of these crucial partners.
This is a stigma our society needs to overcome, but believe me, you don’t have time to wait for society. Do what’s best for you now!
What do you think? Know any other tricks for fighting back against Depression? Often, the best source of support is from others who have been in the same situation. Your words of encouragement might just be the one thing that gives pause to someone else considering suicide. Comments and questions are always welcome and encouraged!