Top 10 Ways to Alleviate Depression


I read this post yesterday and thought I really should share it! – Top 10 Ways to Alleviate Depression. Reblogged from Zazenlife

Jim CarreyOwen Wilson, Ellen DegeneresRussell Brand;  are all comedians that suffer from depression.

Depression is a commonly diagnosed mental illness that can range from mild to severe low mood  leading to suicidal ideation and attempts.

You would think these happy-go-lucky, funny, rich famous people have no reason to be depressed, but depression is not picky and can sneak its way through anyone no matter the shape, size, sex, financial status, social status and occupation of the person.

Yes, there are environmental variables that can exacerbate depressed mood, triggers that cause onset of depression, poor diets, work pressures, financial stress,relational conflicts, health concerns, loss of a loved one and chronic stress, all in which contribute to depression.

People carry depression genes

IT’S IN THE BRAIN.

More than likely, someone who experiences depression is predisposed to it, meaning they carry a “depression” gene. An individual’s biological make up is believed to be the etiology of the disease. You will usually see patterns of depression in families because depression is hereditary just like diabetes, cancer, obesity, height and eye color is. That does not mean if depression runs in your family you will definitely have it. It just means that you may be more sensitive to it and would benefit from learning prevention techniques or coping skills to avoid or manage it just as someone who may watch their sugar intake if both of their parents had diabetes.

Depression can get in the way of our jobs, productivity, family relationships, friendships, motivation, creativity, self-care, concentration,sex life, sleep and overall wellness. Although depression is an intrusive, destructive and uncomfortable experience, there is hope to alleviating depression, but first we have to be aware of it.

Warning signs of depression

Warning Signs-If you experience at least five out of eight of these symptoms for two weeks or more you may be suffering from Major Depression, but definitely see a mental health professional first to talk in more detail.

1. Subjective feelings of sadness and emptiness (tearful) for most of the day nearly every day

2. Diminished interest and/or pleasure in all daily activities

3.Weight loss or weight gain, loss or increase of appetite

4. Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly each day

5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day

6.Fatigue and/or loss of energy nearly every day

7.Feelings of hopelessness or excessive guilt nearly every day

8.Diminished ability to focus, concentrate, make decisions and think clearly nearly every day

9.Recurrent thoughts of death, disease, suicidal ideation without a plan or suicidal ideation with a plan and suicide attempts.

Top ten ways to alleviate depression.

1.) DON’T ISOLATE!

Depression eats away our desire to socialize and be near people. Since depression is related to feelings of worthlessness and loneliness, isolating will only reinforce and justify your idea that you are not worth being around people and keep you sitting alone in your own head.

Socializing keeps you distracted and connected with others. Emotional support is key to feeling better, even if it’s just a hug from your friend. As hard as it is for a depressed individual to get up and get moving, sometimes you must force yourself up and do something you don’t want to do because if you are depressed you more than likely don’t want to do anything. Depression makes everything a lot more complex and difficult than what it is, so whatever social plans you make, keep it simple so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Make plans to go for lunch or a drive, not a ski trip just yet. It gets easier with practice!

2.) DON’T “MUSTURBATE!”

According to the well-known American psychologist Albert Ellis, founder of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy(REBT), individuals who “Musturbate” tend to become more depressed than those who don’t musturbate.

What is musturbating?

Ellis describes musturbation as the tendency for humans to place  rules and demands on themselves and hold thinking patterns with internal dialogue such as “I MUST do this or I MUST do that. Ellis came up with a list of words that human beings tend to use that cause intense feelings of anxiety, guilt, anger and depression.

Musturbatory Words:

Must

Should

Shouldn’t

Have to

Need to

These are just a few of the commonly used phrases that Ellis believed to be a cause of emotional distress, depression and other mental health issues. For example, some people may hold the belief that their friend or significant other SHOULDN’T break plans with them or a mom/wife may hold the belief that she MUST have dinner ready before 6:00. Thinking and talking using these phrases will only make things worse. Try replacing those “Musturbatory’ thinking patterns with more realistic and easy-going words. Lets try it.

Mom’s Musturbatory thoughts – “I MUST have dinner ready before 6:00 or else my family won’t eat on time and I’ll disappoint them, therefore I’m a bad mom.”

Mom’s healthier thoughts – “I’d like to try to have dinner ready by 6:00, if not I’m sure 7:00 will be fine; my family isn’t starving and can tolerate feeling hungry for an extra hour, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom or wife, I just had a busy day.”

Doesn’t the 2nd one sound so much more easing?!

So anytime you find yourself using words like these, try replacing them because you really don’t HAVE to do many things you think you do. Ellis thinks we really “SHOULD” implement this to start feeling better.

3.) Structure

Make a daily schedule for yourself to avoid having to make too many decisions as to what to do for the day. Because depression can cause indecisiveness, have plans already decided on to avoid any added stress or feelings of guilt on the decision you made. You may want someone to help you with this as it may be hard to find the motivation to plan activities. Buy a planner and use it.

4.) Stand clear of boredom

Keep your mind busy and active. When we have too much time on our hands we think too much. We start thinking about how horrible we feel and feel sorry for ourselves.

Simple activities like organizing your desk, color coordinating your clothes, cooking a new recipe, shopping, decorating a room in your house, watching a movie ,playing a video game or reading a book are activities that can take up your time and distract you from yourself. Just try to stay out of your head because that will only feed the depression.

5.) REFRAIN FROM BLACK AND WHITE THINKING

Try to see the gray areas in situations instead of labeling things as either BLACK or WHITE, good or bad and all or nothing.

If we develop a pattern of perceiving life events and ourselves as so ABSOLUTE, we leave no room for all of the shades of gray in between.

For example, if your best friend forgot to call you back one day when you really needed them we can choose to anger ourselves more and cause more distress by labeling them as a bad friend and terminating the friendship, which most likely will lead to feelings of anger, guilt and depression.

Instead, we can see the gray area which would be, “It sucks they didn’t call me back,I’m pissed off right now, but they are my best friend for a reason and they probably didn’t mean it to hurt me”. You can even apply this to your own emotions. Some people who overcome depression get really upset when they have a day when they’re not happy therefore they believe they are supposed to be depressed and sometimes it can lead into a vicious cycle. It’s ok to be in the middle, average, or just “ok”.

6.)Act as if you are not depressed

When you’re depressed try to act as if you’re not.

Don’t shlep around in sweat pants and an unwashed face. Try to put on nice clothes, take a shower and force a smile. Train your brain to believe you’re not depressed. You will be surprised how helpful this could be and research indicates that we have the power to change our neural pathways in our brains just by practicing alternative styles of thinking and behaving. See this one as a brain exercise.

7.) Eat right

Eating healthy balanced meals also plays a role in helping to treat depression. There is a correlation between depressed individuals and deficiencies in Folic Acid, vitamins b12 and b6 and omega 3 fats; most commonly correlated with a Folic Acid deficiency. You can find Folic Acid in beans, leafy green vegetables and seeds.

8.) Exercise

There are two reasons why exercise helps alleviate depression.

One is the release of endorphins commonly known as “runner’s high”. These endorphins that are released during exercise attach to the same receptors as opiates do concluding that elevated mood and sense of elation occurs during and after exercise.

Secondly, exercise improves our self-esteem, the way we look and gives us a sense of accomplishment. You don’t have to join a gym to exercise!

9) Sleep right

Not getting enough sleep or getting too much sleep affects the chemical activity in our brain leading to more disturbed mood, fatigue and irritability. Try getting at least 6 hours per night and no more than 9 hours per night. If you have difficulty falling asleep or experience sleep disturbance avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as you can, clear the clutter in your bedroom and do not bring any stressful triggers in your bedroom like bills, storage, conflict. Keep your room strictly for relaxation.

Laughter is healthy

10.)LAUGHTER

All of the comedians listed above have the right idea.

Laughter is like medicine for both the mind and the body.

Laughing is associated with happiness and friendships. Laughter brings people closer and creates intimacy across many cultures. It also helps us to physically relieve stress and relaxes our muscles for as long as 45 min after our laughing episode.

Laughing releases endorphins, leaving us feeling peppy and light. When you can laugh at yourself, your catastrophic and disastrous perception of your life can change and you may start  not taking yourself so seriously.

Keep in mind depression is a serious illness and these tips for alleviating depression are easier said than done for some people.

You may want to seek professional help such as a psychiatrist who can prescribe you anti-depressant medication at first to help get you moving. Then, you can see a psychologist, mental health counselor or any trained mental health professional to guide you through the suggestions listed above.

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33 comments on “Top 10 Ways to Alleviate Depression

  1. Thank you for taking the time to write such a clear and helpful post about alleviating depression. I have had a look at some of your other blogs also, you have written some great articles that I can really relate to, I am sure many others can also.

    • Thanks Kama, this post is actually shared from another blog, but could so easily have been written by me as I write so much about mental health 🙂

      • Thank you for sharing it! I found you through the #blogboost on twitter, and really appreciate how concise this is. I’ll be bookmarking this post and adding you to my rss. Thanks again!

  2. Great tips! Laughter is an undervalued way of alleviating depression but should be encouraged more as it’s free and enjoyable! Even pretending to laugh can help as it often leads to real laughter anyway….

    • Indeed! The hardest one for me is the black & white thinking as it is a natural part of me due to having BPD – overcoming that and seeing the grey is extremely difficult!

  3. I now have a term (and the person who coined it) to use in my training ridding oneself of negative, self-imposed behavioral language: musturbate.
    Great article share.

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  5. Sharon, as someone who was born into a long line of mental illness (primarily depression) and someone who, herself, dealt with it from the age of about 10 till about 24, and, as someone who has completely overcome the use of prescription drugs and any associated issues, I can honestly say that depression is not a life sentence! Your tips were invaluable to me when I went on my own journey to recovery. Thank you for sharing them with others so that they, too, can find the beautiful light at the end of that long, dark tunnel.

    • Thank you, I hope one day to find the light at the end of my own mental illness tunnel – unfortunately BPD is more complicated than depression alone so I have a long way to go!

  6. Great post! Thank you so much for sharing it. I know I’m guilty of “musterbating” something fierce. It also helps me to get outside myself. If I think about me and how I feel too much, I feel worse. If I reach out and connect with others, especially to encourage them, I feel better.

  7. thanks for sharing sharon 🙂
    really good stuff.

    i know that i have a way to fall into depressed phases and sometimes i just don.t know how to get out 😦

    so maybe and hopefully this will help.

    some thoughts on 2 parts of the article:

    1.) DON’T ISOLATE!
    Depression eats away our desire to socialize and be near people.

    yes that could help a lot – i know that some of my depressed phases are a result of being isolated, of feeling alone.
    but i have noticed that some of my friends don.t want to meet me in the times when i needed it most!

    depressed people can be exhausting for certain undepressed people

    I’d like to try to have dinner ready by 6:00, if not I’m sure 7:00 will be fine.

    i am so in with the non-musturbate phrases.
    interestingly my ex wanted everybody to be determined aka using more musturbate phrases than trying-phrases.
    he thought that just to try is like not taking the responsibility for the event.

    • So very true Helen, some people are there when you need them but other times because we ALL have our own troubles people will avoid you if they think you are just wanting to have a rant about how crap your life is or need a shoulder to cry on, as they don’t want to hear it due to their own issues :/

      And again with the trying rather than musturbating, but for me even a ‘try’ ends up becoming a must – I can’t seem to let it go and just ‘be’ 😦

  8. OMG Sharon–I’m totally printing this & posting on my bulletin board! I have four boys–the oldest of whom just left for basic training. My husband & I both work full time from home and we home school our other 3 boys. Needless to say, we’re not exactly stress free 🙂 Great post!

  9. Hey,

    What an excellent article, speaking from experience depression is not a nice experience and it certainly is one I hope will never happen to me again… I read your article and found it very useful and interesting because for people that are looking for help and guidance there first thoughts, well at least mine were, “I’m crazy, I’m mad”, when actually the opposite is true.. your not mad, and your not crazy your just very tired and you need a little help to get you going again…

    Excellent article 😀

    • I know what you mean, BPD makes implementing some of these tips so much more difficult (especially things like the black and white thinking, as that is just the way we see the world naturally!) 🙂

  10. You made me howl with laughter with #6 -act like you’re not depressed. A great deal of depression is chemical imbalance over which we have no control and a combination of degrees of therapy and meds will help. But there is no doubt in the efficacy of your post because if we realize the nature our illness we must become proactive in addressing it. Great advice here.Simple good nutrition and exercise can often be effective medicine. I follow Dr SJQ at blog A Friend to Yourself, much of which is devoted to the topic of depression.

    • Indeed #6 is a funny one! For me the ‘Black and White thinking’ is also something I have little to no control over as it is part of my BPD. But overall I thought most of the content here was very helpful, if more for people who say or think they are ‘depressed’ rather than actually being medically depressed (which as you rightly state is beyond personal control). Thank you for highlighting Dr SJQ’s blog, I will be sure to check that out 🙂

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