Depression is more than just an illness. It is a condition that attacks and threatens to crush your very spirit. Symptoms of depression include problems with concentration, unwarranted guilt, a pervasive sense of hopelessness, sleep disturbances, loss of interest in activities that you previously enjoyed, over-eating or anorexia, feelings of sadness or emptiness and even thoughts of suicide. If depression has you in its group, using different coping skills can help you weather the storm and get back to yourself.
One of the most important skills is the ability to express your thoughts and feelings. Many people experience relief after a few sessions with a professional therapist or counselor. Others talk to close friends or family members. If you are by nature a private person, pouring your emotions into a journal may ease your symptoms. In recent years, mental health experts have noted that many men as well as some women are not comfortable expressing their troubles through talking or journaling. They are more likely to channel their feelings into physical activities such as hiking, doing work around the home or on a vehicle, or building something.
A second important depression coping skill is being careful to protect your physical health. If you are depressed, you may not feel much like eating anything. Try to ensure, though, that you get adequate nutrition and that you drink enough water to stay hydrated. Meal replacement shakes and nutrition bars provide temporarily alternatives to eating a full meal. Another way to guard your health is to get six to eight hours of sleep each night, though depression may make that challenging. Avoid using alcohol when you're depressed. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. While it may give you a temporary high, it will only make you feel worse in the long run. Finally, if your doctor has prescribed anti-depressant medication, keep taking it until your doctor tells you to stop, even if you start to feel better.
A third way to cope with depression is to make some lifestyle adjustments. Minimize stress as much as possible. Set aside time each day for relaxation. Some people use prayer or meditation to relax. Others find simple exercises, such as tensing and releasing each major muscle group in turn, to be more helpful. Push yourself to take part in activities you normally enjoy, even if you don't feel like doing them. Once you actually get started, you may enjoy the activity more than you thought you would. Finally, get your body moving. Exercise releases endorphins, or "feel good" chemicals, into the brain.
Depression can make you feel utterly miserable. The good news is that it does not last forever. Much like a thick fog, it fades away, often so gradually you do not even realize that it is lifting. If you hang onto that knowledge and use the coping skills in this article, you will get through this painful time in your life.