Feeling depressed can be an isolated response to a set of circumstances. It can also be much more intricate, weaving its way through your daily thoughts and feelings. Depression can come on suddenly as a feeling of melancholy that almost surprises you or it can be something that has lingered for years. It can feel heavy or lonely, big or small, internal or something that feels like it is on full display. Depression wears many hats.
Whether you are experiencing depression that has lasted for a long time or trying to manage an isolated feeling of depression, there are things you can do that will help. These five things are effective strategies to implement as you try to manage your feelings and consider treatment and therapy options.
Before you can begin to find relief from your depression, you must understand it. Since it can take on so many forms, having clarity about depression will help you navigate the best way to handle it.
Depression, also known as clinical depression or depressive mood disorder, is a medical illness. It negatively affects people in the things they feel, what they think or how they act. While depression is common, there is a wide spectrum of how people are affected.
The medical understanding of depression is important to recognize. Often, however, people use the term depression casually. Sometimes people express feelings like sadness or loss of interest in things they once enjoyed as they deal with occasional or isolated cases of depression. Other times, people are hesitant to use the word depression, feeling like it is too strong of a word to describe what they are feeling.
The best way to work through understanding depression or depression-like feelings is with a trained counselor. They can discuss things like what you are feeling, other symptoms, and your family history to assess whether you have clinical depression or you are struggling with feelings that resemble the medical diagnosis of depression.
It is important to note that whether you have a medical diagnosis or not, your feelings are valid and real. Experiencing sadness, loss of interest, emotional struggles, physical discomfort, or other related things are uncomfortable for anyone. You can do things to help reduce those feelings, whether you have a medical diagnosis or not.
Why Do I Feel Depressed?
The causes of depression or depression-like feelings can vary greatly. While there can be situational things like a loss or life change, sometimes depression can simply be connected to brain chemistry or hereditary tendencies.
Some things increase the chance of depression in a person’s life such as:
- Abuse: Physical, emotional, or sexual abuse can increase the chance of depression at any point in your life.
- Age: Age is a factor in depression.
- Gender: Women are more likely to experience depression than men, although it is prevalent for both genders.
- Grief or loss: These situations can lead to feelings of depression.
- Illness or medication: Medical experiences, especially prolonged ones can be difficult. Medications can also have side effects that lead to depression.
- Life events: Major changes or life events such as moving, loss of a job, graduation, divorce, getting married or retirement can cause depression.
- Substance abuse: Addiction and substance issues have a high correlation with depression.
These are just a few of the common things that can result in depression. There are additional biological, hereditary, and life experiences that play a role as well. Consider what you are feeling and what may have led to this. A trained counselor can help you understand this better.
You can find help and relief when you feel depressed. Starting with your doctor and counseling is the best way to begin. As you meet with a counselor, you can discuss the best treatment options. Your doctor can help rule out any medical or physical causes or treat things as necessary.
Additionally, there are things you can do to reduce your feelings of depression as you work to treat things with professionals.
Often overlooked, prayer is an effective tool when you feel depressed. While it should not be the only thing you do to treat depression, prayer can help you navigate your feelings and find hope for your healing. Additionally, prayer will help you as you deal with issues that may arise in your counseling.
Start by talking to God about how you feel. Remember, you can tell him everything. Ask Him to help you as you sort through your feelings and trust that He is faithful to do so. You can even ask for His help on how to interact with people when it feels hard, how to talk to your counselor, or how to get through the day. He is there for you in every situation, ready to help.
Singing is a surprising way to help reduce depression. While it isn’t a treatment in itself, the benefits of singing can help reduce the symptoms many people struggle with. Singing can have positive effects such as reducing stress, increasing immunity, improving lung function, helping your well-being, relieving stress, and increasing levels of feel-good hormones in your body.
To incorporate singing in your life all you need to do is start singing. You don’t need to be a good singer. Simply singing songs that you enjoy can be beneficial. If you are uncomfortable singing, you can even try humming, which creates similar benefits.
When you focus on things for which you are grateful, even if they are simple, you begin to shift your thinking from the negative to the positive. This shift can “elicit a surge of feel-good hormones like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, and build enduring personal connections.” (Psychology Today)
It is important to note that gratitude does not cure depression. Instead, gratitude fosters benefits that lead to alleviating the negative symptoms associated with depression. This helps you feel better as you navigate treating your depression.
Spending time outdoors has a profound impact on the symptoms of depression. Being outside is good for mental health because it helps with so many different factors. Fresh air is a noteworthy component as it can help you breathe deeply, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and clear your lungs. There are physiological benefits from getting outside such as increasing vitamin D, which comes from the sun, and lowering cortisol levels which is a marker for stress.
Time outdoors does not need to look a certain way. You can simply find something that works for you. A short walk, sitting by the water, or simply standing on your deck for a few minutes can have a big impact.
“Depression and sleep problems are closely linked. People with insomnia, for example, may have a tenfold higher risk of developing depression than people who get a good night’s sleep. And among people with depression, 75 percent have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.” (Hopkins Medicine) With such a close link between sleep and depression, it helps to find ways to ensure you are getting enough rest.
A consistent sleep routine and bedtime help create a foundation for better rest. Also, try eliminating electronic devices such as TV and phones from your room as well as keeping the space dark, cool and comfortable. When you set yourself up for better sleep, you can reduce some of the symptoms of depression. If nighttime sleep is difficult for you, talk to your counselor about other ways to incorporate rest into your day.
These strategies can help you when you feel depressed. They do not take the place of medical treatment, but when paired with professional care, they can help you find relief. Depression is a complex thing, but we are here to help. As you implement these strategies, a trained counselor can help you with understanding your depression and explore treatment options to help you find freedom from depression.
“Bench by the Lake”, Courtesy of Aaron Burden, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Misty Mountain”, Courtesy of Liam Simpson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Bicycle”, Courtesy of Kevin Wolf, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Green Trees”, Courtesy of Kazuend, Unsplash.com, CC0 License