Depression can be one of the most debilitating experiences people ever experience. Many live with mild depression and function fine, but those with more moderate or severe depression struggle greatly. Depression is different from the feeling of sadness; it is much more intense and longer lasting. The general symptoms of depression are as follows:
- A consistent feeling of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Emotional outbursts over even small issues
- Loss of interest (or pleasure) in doing things one used to enjoy
- Withdrawal, isolation
- Sleep disturbances
- Tiredness or lack of energy, a general feeling of fatigue
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
- Trouble concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Some somatic symptoms
Practical Ways to Manage Depression
Depression is not something to ignore. Though sometimes it does get better on its own, most of the time it does require some assistance to find some relief. Some will battle chronic depression for most of their lives, and some will only deal with it once or twice and never again. There are things someone can do to help manage their depression so that it does not ruin their lives. Here are some things you can do to manage depression:
What fills you?
Flowers, sunshine, rain on a tin roof, going home to visit parents, a conversation with a good friend, a massage, a song, taking a walk, being near the water – what fills you? When you create this list, then think of how to incorporate some of those things on a daily and weekly basis to make sure you are getting filled.
Make a happy list
Similarly, think back on the last month and write out what things brought you joy and made you feel happy. What did you watch that you loved? What did you read? Where did you go? With whom did you spend time? What things did you eat? What things made you happy? This is a way to remember that not everything about your last few weeks has been bad. There had to be a couple of things you enjoyed. Depression can take away one’s ability to see the good in life, so it is time to take that back.
Make a gratitude listWhat things were you grateful for today? This week? This month? Write them each down, and then take a deep breath, close your eyes, and pray to the Lord, “Lord, I thank you for____.” List out each one by name. Regularly finding gratitude has many benefits, but especially for one’s mental health. Is there a better to lift one’s mood than to find something for which to be grateful?
Spend time outdoors
Being in the sun also has proven to be beneficial for one’s mental health. There is no better time than Summer to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Stock up on that Vitamin D before Winter! People struggling with depression also struggle to get outside because they would rather be in their beds, and it takes so much energy to get outside.
However, they never regret it once they do. One could simply go on a short walk around the neighborhood or do something longer. This needs to be a part of a person’s weekly rhythms and routines.
Daily time in prayer and ScriptureIt is hard to find the energy to pray and read one’s Bible when feeling depressed, and it is even harder to know what to say because the mind feels like it is in a daze. Also, prayer and Scripture are not magic formulas for not being depressed, contrary to what many church leaders have taught in the past.
However, prayer and Scripture breathe life back into the weary soul, and they are needed to feel life again. Making time for even small doses of scripture at a time is more helpful than nothing, so it is good to make it a part of one’s daily routine.
Medication may be necessary if depression symptoms are not subsiding after a few weeks of consistently trying these other things. Medication is not shameful. It is meant to help, and for many people, it is the thing that helps them clear up their minds and feel better to be able to even do these things listed. Seek a professional opinion about the severity of depression, and then take as prescribed. It is not the magic formula, either, but it can help.
Exercise is another proven way to help improve one’s mood and energy. It is also one of the first things to go when someone feels depressed because they have little to no motivation or energy. Exercise is a must when people are battling depression. If it is not present, it is nearly impossible for a person to be able to get better.
This exercise does not have to be very strenuous, could be a simple walk. However, any amount is better than none. It increases self-esteem, energy, and helps better one’s mood. It is a must in one’s weekly routines. Start small if you haven’t exercised in a while and be gentle with yourself.
Spend time with a good friend or loved one
Make some time to go spend in-person time with someone who matters a lot to you – your spouse, your children, your family, a good friend, for example. This can bring much-needed laughter and energy and distraction, and it can help forsome of these people to know how you are struggling and what you need from them. Depression is isolating, so it is important to spend time with people and fight the urge to withdraw.
Listen to your favorite music
Music can be so good for the soul, so put on some of your favorite music and listen. It is amazing what a simple song can do to lift one’s mood. Avoid any sad music; stick to music that brings a smile to your face.
Go on a drive
Sometimes getting out of the house can be the best medicine of all. If you don’t drive, go on a walk or a bike ride, but spend time out of the house. Put on some good music and go. It can at least get you out of the bed and out.
Take a tripSimilarly, going on a drive or taking a trip can get you out of your environment and somewhere else – it can be a welcome distraction and even can be healing. It can be a short or long trip but getting out can help. Being in a beautiful, fun environment is something everyone needs regularly, and sometimes taking a trip is the way to get it.
Go to regular counseling
People often think they can beat depression on their own, and sometimes they can. However, they typically need to be in regular counseling to manage it, get to the heart of it, and overcome it. Depression is one of the hardest things to be able to manage, but people do it every day.
It requires courage and the willingness to ask for help and to know one’s wishes and needs. It takes being brave enough to step out and do things that fill you up and bring you hope and joy so that you don’t feel so empty or hopeless anymore.
“Regrets”, Courtesy of Jonathan Rados, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Admiring the View”, Courtesy of Paola Chaaya, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Studying the Word”, Courtesy of Rachel Strong, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; Mountain Drive”, Courtesy of Will Truettner, Unsplash.com, CC0 License