Are you overwhelmed by feelings of depression? You’re not alone.
Millions of people struggle with depression. I am one of them.
Here are the four most significant lessons I’ve discovered living with depression that gives me hope for managing symptoms, improving my mood, and living a fulfilling life.
Self-Care Is Challenging, but it Does Work.
Self-care and depression can be closely intertwined.
When I am at my lowest, I usually don’t feel like taking care of myself, but not taking care of myself only makes me feel worse. It took some introspection to figure out how to address this cycle, and that forcing myself into even a tiny bit of self-care alleviates at least some of my symptoms and makes it easier to get through my days.
What kind of self-care works?
- Simple habits like eating better have made a huge difference. Adding certain foods like leafy greens, quinoa, avocadoes, wild salmon, and eggs significantly impacts mood by nurturing normal brain function.
- Exercise also plays a significant role in helping as regular exercise floods the body with “feel good” hormones. Movement helps repair and improve nerve cell connections in the brain, thus relieving some of the effects of depression.
- Meditation seems to help when feelings of depression meld into anxiety and stress. By taking a few moments to breathe and check-in with myself, I stop focusing on my stressors and start focusing on myself, if only for a little while.
- Keeping my surroundings clean and tidy help reduce stress and anxiety, two factors which always seem to make my depressive symptoms worse. Maintaining an organized living space can help eliminate any “negative energy” or “bad vibes” that can become trapped, so setting up a regular cleaning schedule is a plus.
Supplements to Manage Symptoms
I help my brain and body fight those feelings of depression by using the right supplements, from folic acid to omega-3s.
Recently, CBD has also become a popular product, and that’s because consumers are beginning to see the benefits of CBD use. While studies are limited, there is research to suggest that CBD can help decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and even physical pain symptoms that can lead to depression. Many people also seem to get better sleep with CBD but talk to a healthcare provider before trying it for yourself.
Feelings of Depression May Never Go Away Completely
Taking CBD or committing to self-care are positive ways to cope with negative feelings. Still, it’s essential to realize that depression can come in many different forms. For example, feeling depressed after losing a close loved one is commonly categorized as situational depression, or experiencing depression during the winter months could be seasonal affective disorder.
While some feelings of depression can dissipate with time, others can be more permanent. After dealing with my symptoms for many years, I was finally diagnosed with a mood disorder that causes feelings of depression to wax and wane. Those lows will never truly go away, so I’ve come to terms with finding ways to manage them and manage to still live my life to the fullest.
Reaching Out for Help Is Never a Sign of Weakness
One of the hardest parts about living with a mental illness is dealing with the stigma. Even though talking about depression and mental health is becoming more accepted, emotions still tend to be challenging to discuss with others. Talking about feelings of depression, especially with a licensed counselor, is often the best way to move forward. It’s also an effective way to let go of any internal stigmas that prevents you from getting needed help.
Reaching out, feeling connected, and feeling heard can do so much for mental health and is crucial if feelings of depression have translated into thoughts of self-harm. If you’re unsure where to turn, know that there are dedicated hotlines to talk with people who care. Also, know that things will get better. They did for me, and they will work for you.
Life can be beautiful, even with depression. By sharing my story, I only hope to help you feel less alone and less defined by your mental illness.
Jennifer Scott is the founder of Spiritfinder.org, where she’s created a safe community working to discard the stigma around mental health and normalize feelings of anxiety, depression, shame, and guilt.