Feeling down or blue is a natural part of life. When people let us down, things go wrong, or we lose people we love, or the dreams we’ve valued, it appears. This sadness becomes a problem when it fails to pass and we don’t bounce back. If the sadness stretches over weeks, is occurring frequently and interferes with your ability to interact with people and enjoy your life, it is likely that you’re experiencing some form of depression. Remember that this is completely normal. Everyone gets depressed sometimes. And with good reason.
First you have to evaluate just how blue you really are. Signs of depression include:
- An inability to function normally in everyday life.
- Lethargy, fatigue, and the feeling that doing things takes a lot of your energy.
- Persistent sadness, including fits of crying either uncontrollably or being set off easily, feelings of anxiety or emptiness.
- Feeling blue, sad, and generally down over a period of at least two weeks.
- Feelings of worthlessness, self-blame and a lack of self esteem.
- Sleeping a lot more or less than usual, or experiencing insomnia.
- Unusual weight gain or loss, overeating or appetite loss.
- Finding thinking or concentrating difficult, “foggy” thinking, inability to make clear decisions or forgetfulness.
- Pessimism, or feeling a sense that life is hopeless, pointless and futile This may even lead to a feeling of numbness.
- Body pains, cramps, digestive problems, headaches, and other aches that don’t go away with medication or treatment.
- Being irritable or restless a great deal of the time.
- Suicidal thoughts, thoughts about dying, or attempts at suicide.
Then you have to figure out if the cause is physical, emotional or both. It can be really helpful to speak to someone like a close friend, relative or your health or life coach about how you’re feeling and uncover what the cause might be. Some of the physical conditions that might trigger depression include:
- Vitamin or mineral deficiencies, especially for people on restrictive diets. Get blood tests done to find out if there is something lacking which is causing you to feel blue.
- Thyroid problems, hormonal imbalances (including pre-menstrual) or disease.
- Medications. The side effects of some medications include depression. Read the warning labels and talk with your doctor about any concerns you might have.
- Addictions to alcohol or other drugs.
- Genetic links to depression.
- Medical conditions that only women would face including post-partum depression (the “baby blues”), premenstrual syndrome (PMS) or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).
Begin Your Healing ~ 18 Ways To Beat The Gypsy Blues
Once you’ve evaluated how you’re feeling and the possible reasons why, it’s time to focus on healing. Make a conscious choice to do what it takes to learn from this experience and move on. You are worth having the life that you dream of so start your journey to wellness.
FIND A ROLE MODEL Think you’re alone in being depressed? Go to the library and pull out five biographies. It’s highly likely that at least one of those high achievers suffered from depression. Do a little research online to find famous people who have overcome depression. Read about the many celebrities who are revealing their battles with depression. Read their stories. Take heart in the fact that there are others who have overcome depression, only you have the benefit of their experiences to draw from too!
BE GENTLE ON YOURSELF. Life isn’t a race or a competition. The reality is that you matter, you have great value as a person and making things harder for yourself is akin to beating yourself up. Avoid obsessing about your depression or creating a shrine to it to hide behind when things all seem to hard. The feedback loop of hopelessness and despair created by being angry with yourself for being depressed will deepen your despair. Accept the journey to wellness is a matter of baby steps.
GET CLARITY List the things that are bothering you outside of your depression. It could be unpaid bills, a lack of vacations or a tough job. Then, next to those things, write down some practical ways that you think you can do to deal with the things that are bothering you. For example, find ways to pay these bills, plan a vacation and figure out how to get a new job
JOURNAL IT OUT. Keep a journal of your journey through your depression. Document your feelings somewhere personal and completely private. This will be the place where you let out your darkest thoughts, no holds barred, because you don’t need to worry that anyone will judge you for them. A diary can become your collaborator in the struggle against your depression because it eventually provides you with great evidence of what improves your mood as well as what brings it down. Try to write in it daily if possible.
NURTURE YOURSELF. Take care of your body. Your body needs to be well-nourished, well-rested, and cherished. If you’ve been neglecting it or pushing it too far, you will pay a price and part of that will result in lowered resiliency and openness to depressive thoughts. Here’s a mega-list of ways you can begin to love yourself right now!
SLEEP WELL. Sleep is essential to a healthy, balanced body. Lack of sleep can aggravate negative thinking and easily becomes a vicious cycle whereby your negative thoughts keep you awake and disable your ability to get enough sleep. Waking unrefreshed and feeling tired is a commonplace complaint during depression, and even too much sleep can leave depressed persons feeling tired. Breaking this cycle requires enforcing a strict sleep routine of the same bedtime and waking time every day, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, not exercising three hours prior to bed, removing anything distracting from your bedroom and keeping your room at a suitable temperature, etc.
EXERCISE. Exercise releases a natural anti-depressant chemical in your brain and gets you into doing something active. Start small with a simple walk to the local store or around the block, or even just around your garden. Gradually work up to a routine that fits with your needs and enjoyment.
EAT WELL. Reduce your intake of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fast foods, and processed foods. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole foods. Drink plenty of water and do some research on foods that are said to improve your state of mind and well-being. Improving your diet can be a positive project to keep you constructively occupied and focused when you’re working through your depression.
ASK FOR HELP. Support from people who love and care about you is an important part of the healing process. Tell people you trust that you’re depressed and would appreciate their understanding and sympathy. It is far harder for people to help you if you’re secretive and do things that seem inexplicably strange. Knowing will help people to make allowances and support you as best they can.
CHOOSE YOUR COMPANY WISELY. Talk with friends, family and colleagues who make you feel good and who are good to be around. Spend time with people who see the world in a positive way and ask them to share their visions, ideas, and approaches to life with you. Most positive people will be more than happy to reveal the things that help them keep upbeat and happy about their lives. Learn from them.
KEEP BUSY. Being busy is a way to prevent negative thoughts from going around your head repeatedly. For depressed persons, the first step is often the hardest, so making yourself do things can be a huge difference in your day and getting you started.
TREAT YOURSELF. Feeling down feeds on itself and it soon becomes a catch-22 when you convince yourself that you don’t deserve to enjoy anything.
HELP OTHERS. In helping other people going through hardships, you will be able to channel some of your sadness and inability to cope into ensuring that other people can. This removes the concentration from you to others, which can be good if you’re prone to too much introspection.
OVERCOME NEGATIVE THINKING. This is a vital aspect of working through depression. Depressed people tend to have the tendency to choose distorted and negative viewpoints of everything, entrenching the depression even further.
REFRAME YOUR THOUGHTS. Recognise negative thought patterns and make a conscious effort to change them and replace them with positive thoughts. After all, what you think becomes true for you.
LOOK FOR THE GOOD. Sit back and try to find the good in your life. Whatever it is, it is something worth finding. Return to this list regularly and continue to update it. In your initial recovery, it might have one or two things such as “my house” or “my spouse.” Over time, it should grow as you start to experience the more joyful side of life again.
CHOOSE POSITIVE LANGUAGE. Alter the language you use to help yourself look at things more positively. For example, rather than regretting something and feeling a failure, ask yourself, “What have I learnt from this?”
TRY ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES OR MEDICINES. Invest in yourself n your healing with support systems like coaching, massage and acupuncture. In conjunction with other healing choices you’ve made, these can sometimes help restore your emotional balance.
Find your own pathways to emotional wholeness. There are many possible ways to cope with depression and there is a lot of information available to help you. However, the most important thing is the ability to look deep inside yourself and to find what really works for you.
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