The topic of depression has become much more widely discussed in recent years, likely because so many people around the world are unfortunately living with this harrowing condition. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 16 million individuals over the age of 18 struggle with major depressive disorder in the United States alone. Depression can be genetic, a hormonal imbalance, triggered by traumatic events, and this mental illness certainly does not discriminate. Individuals that seemingly have it all even struggle with depression, and it is imperative to be conscious of this fact and to not diminish someone else’s experience. Many of these people sadly also live with untreated depression, which is why today we are going to go over some useful coping mechanisms that can be helpful to those that are battling any form or level of depression. If you suspect that you are in fact battling depression, Southlake psychiatrist Dr. Messina has the means to provide therapy and medication management services to help mitigate this condition and make everyday life more bearable.
The first helpful coping mechanism when it comes to depression is to create a solid and uplifting support system. Cultivating a positive and supportive relationship with a therapist or counselor is a huge step in the right direction when depression develops, as these professionals are highly educated in disorders such as this one, and they can seriously aid in working through low points. Depression can rear its ugly head out of nowhere and hang around for a long period of time, which is a huge reason why it is so crucial to be surrounded by loving and supportive individuals. Talking with trusted family members and friends about the issues you are facing can truly help in not feeling so isolated, or possibly consider joining a support group for the added comfort of not being alone during any bleak times.
Almost every person out there is met with some level of stress in their day-to-day life, but stress can easily get out of hand and exacerbate symptoms of depression. Managing stress might seem impractical when in the throes of depression, but aiming your focus on doing so can certainly help with alleviating and coping with this condition. Stress increases the production of cortisol in the body, which does in turn amplify many symptoms of depression. Try your best to concentrate on doing small things for yourself, such as getting sunshine, practicing mindfulness, eating healthfully, getting some form of exercise, staying hydrated, and getting ample sleep. Even attempting to write things down in a journal or talking things out to someone that is willing to lend an ear can significantly help in reducing stress, especially when it feels like everything has been bottled up and has been overwhelming you. Keeping stress to a minimum will not eradicate depression, but it will absolutely make it much more manageable and easier to cope with in the long run.
When battling depression, doing everyday tasks can seem so impossible and pointless. This point goes hand-in-hand with the point that was discussed above, especially since allowing tasks and responsibilities to pile up will only create more stress. Instead of tackling a huge school or work project that you may have neglected or attempting to complete all of your household chores in one go, break things down into doable portions that will enable a sense of accomplishment and relief. Focus on one task at a time such as doing the laundry, working on the most pressing school assignments, or tidying up your room. Reward yourself with something small for each task you complete, which might look like reading a chapter of your book, watching an episode of your favorite show, or allowing yourself to get your favorite snack or treat. Depression is no joke and daily tasks are not as simple as they may sound, so be easy on yourself and certainly be proud of anything you are able to accomplish.
While following a routine when struggling with depression may seem futile, setting one up has shown to assist in coping with depression. Humans are creatures of habit and we function better under some form of structure, especially when dealing with mental illnesses. Establishing a routine of waking up at a fixed time in the morning, making a point of getting the necessary responsibilities done during the day, going out of your way to do something solely for yourself, and getting to bed at a decent can definitely aid in coping with depression. There will of course be days when a routine is just not going to work or days when things come up, but having it loosely in place might just surprise you in how beneficial a routine can be. If a full day routine is too daunting, start with just a nighttime one. Start an hour or two before you plan to go to bed, turn off your phone, make some tea, take a relaxing bath or shower, and read a book to help you unwind and ease you into a comforting slumber.
Depression is a rampant mental illness in our world right now, but with anything in life there are tools available to help us cope and forbid it from consuming our lives. Fostering a solid support system, concentrating on reducing stress, focusing on tasks that are feasible, and following a stable routine are all coping mechanisms that can be beneficial when depression makes an appearance. If any of the above-mentioned coping strategies do not seem possible, talk to a mental health professional and consider the possibility of following an antidepressant medication regimen. There will be good days and bad days when living with depression, and it is important to remember that there is nothing that you cannot overcome.
If you or someone you love are exhibiting signs of depression, either situational or clinical, please do not wait to reach out. Help is available and can change lives. Our team at Dr. Messina & Associates specializes in anxiety and depression in children, adolescents, and adults. We continue to provide psychological and psychiatric services both in-person (DFW area patients) and online (Austin, DFW, Houston, and San Antonio area patients).