They call depression the silent killer because it is actually the world’s leading cause of disability, a fact that not many know. As of recent figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are more than 300 million people across the globe suffering from this ailment.
Depression doesn’t constitute simple feelings of sadness or inadequacy. Contrary to popular belief, it is a serious medical concern that requires equally serious medical intervention. As per the advice of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), when one experiences symptoms such as abrupt changes in mood, loss of appetite, prolonged fatigue, irregular sleep, and destructive thoughts for a period of over two weeks, then it is time to seek help. If left untreated, depression may adversely affect one’s physical and psychosocial health, their relationships, and their livelihood.
On the flipside, however, there are ways to cope with depression. If you’re dealing with the illness right now, it’s important to know that you won’t stay in such a state forever—and that it is possible for things to get better little by little. If you need encouragement, hopefully, you can find some in the following list. Below are some simple, doable tips to gradually counter the obstacles of depression.
#1. Seek help when you perceive something to be “off.”
If there’s one instinct you need to keep alive, it’s your capacity to assess how you feel. You may have already sought clinical treatment from a psychiatrist or counseling services from a psychologist or health center. Use the knowledge from the initial meetings to gauge the intensity (or lack thereof) of feelings that you have day to day. During the episodes that you feel particularly vulnerable, so don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are people in your life who are happy to accommodate you.
#2. Concretize your awareness of your immediate surroundings.
In moments that you feel panicked or ill at ease, you can complete simple actions to foster awareness of the things around you. Perhaps you can wear something to remind yourselfof positive people, movements, or ideas in your life. You can also try the 5-4-3-2-1 technique for easing anxiety, which involves mentally listing down things in your immediate environment with your five senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste). This will remind you that you are conscious, breathing, and capable of processing what’s around you.
#3. Tap into a support network of friends and family.
One of the primary dangers of depression is how it can make you feel as if you are alone in the world. The more isolated you feel, the louder the negative thoughts in your head can seem. Try to counter these thoughts by keeping yourself in a supportive company. You may feel scared about opening up to your loved ones, but the more they know about what you’re going through, the better equipped they’ll be to help you in the ways you need.
#4. Improve your daily habits that revolve around sleep.
Sleep is always a big part of the conversation on depression. It’s crucial for a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. As such, irregular sleeping patterns are often a telltale sign that depression has set in. If you suffer from depression, try to counter any associations of stress you might associate with your bed. Use it only for sleeping, and resist the temptation to stay up late and stare at your phone. Healthy regular sleep, a lot of natural light, and higher levels of relaxation on your body can do wonders to counter episodes of depression.
#5. Keep up a healthy, energy-boosting diet and an active exercise regimen.
A good diet and exercise are also powerful medicines against the bodily obstacles of depression. In fact, there is an entire discipline called nutritional psychiatry that is dedicated to improving both nutritional and mental health. On your part, you should partake in a diet full of healthy, nourishing, and flavorful foods that can boost your energy levels and make it easier to sleep. Switch out the caffeine, alcohol, and excessive carbohydrates and sugar for protein, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E-rich foods. Don’t forget to supplement that diet with a form of exercise, which will keep your body and mind stimulated.
#6. Think up new routines that will make you productive and happy.
Many people feel so debilitated by depression that even simple tasks like dressing up, doing laundry, or finishing a singular requirement for work or school seems tiresome and difficult. If you’ve hit such points, you’ve likely also felt like procrastinating or guilt-tripping yourself about your inability. Try to work against such impulses by acknowledging when you are able to complete such tasks, and affirm yourself for them. In addition, look for things that will add pleasure, surprise, and variety to your routine. They can be as simple as spending time with a pet, listening to a new song, or watching a new episode of your favorite series. If depression makes you feel like life is static, oppressive, and hopeless, seek out what is new, joyful, and liberating.
The bottom line is: if you are one among the 300 million people worldwide suffering from depression, you are not a mere statistic. You are human, and for that reason alone you matter to someone, are deserving of hope, and have the potential to move from this state of being to a better one. That said, best of luck in your everyday fight to counter depression!