People who suffer from depression tend to be introspective and don’t manage depression effectively. They attribute all failures to their own shortcomings/inadequacies and all successes are attributed externally. By this, I mean that they often do not give themselves credit for any success in their life, explaining it away as luck, or because someone else made it possible. This ends up in self-defeating thinking, a no-win situation with neither thought process serving one’s self-esteem in a positively reinforcing way. This can often lead to the person feeling powerless and ineffectual in their lives which further compounds the cycle of negative thinking.
Manage depression with therapy
·Monitor Your Thoughts (Basic Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy)
One of the most effective ways to manage depression is to monitor thought processes more closely. Thoughts affect our feelings and our feelings guide our behaviour. If tour thoughts are off, the feelings will be negative and, it stands to reason, that our behaviour might be unhelpful in response to those negative thoughts and feelings. And so, the negative repetitive cycle gets reinforced and we find it harder to break out of the cycle – like rats in a maze, constantly hitting our heads at the same point!
Keeping a daily diary is a good way of becoming more aware of the negative self-talk that we all tend to have going on silently in our minds.
The trick is to be aware when you are berating yourself and/or using irrational thinking that does not serve any benefit to you. You could have thoughts about yourself that were told to you as a child. For example, you’re useless, you’re not good enough… there are a myriad of examples of negative inner self-talk that we can repeat to ourselves day after day.
The result of this continuous negative talk is that these thoughts take on a life of their own and aren’t challenged anymore. They become truth when in fact there’s often is no evidence to support these incorrect outdated thoughts about yourself.
Identifying these ill-serving thoughts is the first step in stopping the negative downward spiral of pessimistic thinking. It will drag you down and has no advantages to your well being.
How to manage depression:
IDENTIFY the negative, outdated thoughts
CHALLENGE these thoughts. Where’s the evidence? Where did this thought come from? Was the source reliable? Often you will find that the source (eg a parent,care giver) had their own issues and these words were not meant at all.
REMOVE these thoughts and replace them with more appropriate ones. Eg I am not good enough is replaced by: I am worthy as I am
IMPORTANT: Thoughts lead to feelings. Feelings lead to behavior. Allowing positive thoughts to stay and weeding out the negative, critical thoughts will lead to more positive feelings, a lighter happier mood and more positive, optimistic behaviors and outlook on life.
·Healthy balanced diet:
A healthy, well balanced diet that boosts the consumption of vitamins and minerals is beneficial to manage depression.
Choose Wholegrains, Fruits and Vegetables. Avoid refined foods such as white sugar, flour. wholegrains, along with fruits and vegetables, contain vitamin B1, folate and zinc, all of which have been shown to improve the mood of depressed patients. There is some evidence that people with depression respond better to treatment if they have higher levels of vitamin B12.
Consume Protein. Especially consume regular amounts of oily fish with Omega 3 in it, such as sardines and kippers
Re-hydrate regularly – drink 8 glasses of water a day. Avoid alcohol.
Research suggests that 30 minutes of exercise a day, for at least three to five days a week, can significantly improve symptoms and help you manage depression. Exercise can provide a distraction from your worries as well as improve your general health and fitness levels which automatically leads to an improvement in mood. During exercise, endorphins are released which add a feel-good factor to your body chemistry. Exercise can also assist with getting rid of built-up stress and frustration and can help you sleep better.
It may seem impossible to get moving when you feel depressed but some studies have shown that exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours. It’s worth giving it a go!!
Connecting with others
It may seem the easiest course of action when feeling depressed is to hibernate and cut yourself off from friends and family. This is often the worst way to manage depression you can do as it leaves you more time to think, more time to get bogged down in a quagmire of negative thoughts. Circular thinking often characterizes a depressed person’s thought processes this type of thinking does not have a solution-focus to it, rather it is a downward spiral that leads further down into the dark pit with even less chance of pulling yourself out of it alone. Being with others, as hard as it may be, really does help. It may be the LAST thing you feel like doing but studies have shown that in over 90% of cases “ when they socialized their mood improved. So take the Leap of Faith and mix with others. You don’t have to be the life and soul of the party but just taking a break from your thoughts and isolation can bring tremendous relief.
Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep can often be disturbed when one is troubled by pessimistic thinking and low mood. Sometimes sleep is too inviting and an easy escape leading to too much sleeping. At other times, one can be so agitated that sleep is inadequate which will lead to irritability and will negatively affect an existing low mood. Try to get a regular eight hours of sleep per night. Establish a routine that your body can get used to.
Limit contact with negative, toxic people when you don’t feel mentally strong to help you manage depression.
When feeling depressed it is important to limit your time with people that drain your energy. They could be friends/family that are bitter about life, constantly criticize others, judge unnecessarily, and generally offer what I call a toxic environment.
Some people are difficult to avoid for whatever reasons but just try to be aware of their effect on your own mental state and try to avoid them as much as possible or limit contact with them when you are feeling emotional or mentally vulnerable.
Positive, optimistic people give off a different energy and this will feed your mood and contribute to raised optimism.
If you are struggling and find it hard to manage your depression, get in touch. I am happy to help. You can contact me on the homepage (top right) or go to the contact page.