Unfortunately, it's feeling like depression is becoming more and more common these days. From tragic celebrity deaths to Netflix shows about the like, depression, anxiety and worry have become part of the mainstream conversation. Thankfully, there are little things we can do every day to fight the symptoms and treat some of the root causes to maintain a life of health and wellness.
First, what is depression? Depending on the severity and frequency, depression can be as simple as a down-in-the-dumps mood after a rough day or a chronic mental illness that negatively affects how you think, feel and act (much like the wear and tear of stress). While some symptoms are certainly visible to outsiders, such as drastic mood swings, lethargy, offset sleep schedules, etc., depression is not always an obvious, apparent issue. Many individuals do their best to cope and go about life with a "smiling depression", aka keeping a cheery outlook while their internal world is upside down - making it all the more important to speak honestly and thoughtfully with anyone you suspect may be battling depression or seeking help.
The cost of depression
From diminished self-confidence and growing complacency to living in a recluse state that tarnishes relationships and opportunities, the lifestyle costs of depression are endless. Anatomically, it's no different. Depression can result in feelings of mental and physical fatigue, lack of appetite, headaches, and insomnia and more.
So how do we fight back?
While it's important to recognize no two cases are exactly alike, and a mere list is only the beginning, the following steps can certainly put a dent in depression and help you (or your loved ones, colleagues, friends) get back on your feet.
- Be honest about your challenges, needs, and stability. Reach out to others and refuse to go it alone.
- Try apps like Headspace and Oak to practice mindfulness, gratitude, and meditation to fortify your mind with positive thoughts about the present and future.
- Let the sunshine in, literally and figuratively. Don't close yourself off to the world. Open the windows, walk in the light and soak in the Vitamin D. Not only will the fresh air help reinvigorate you for the day to come, but your body will garner the many benefits of the sunshine vitamin.
- Change your tune. Misery loves its company and it's pretty fascinating how we can inadvertently surround ourselves with movies, soundtracks, and stations that perpetuate our state of angst, sorrow or guilt. Make a conscious effort to switch your playlists to something more aspirational, inspiring and uplifting. From motivational speakers to audiobooks and more, there are plenty of options that can help you pick yourself back up.
- Volunteer your time. Depression often creates a crippling self-centeredness. The tragedy is that it's rarely intentional. When the walls start caving in, it's tempting to hunker down and try to fix ourselves, but the miracle about depression is that often the key to healing is getting outside the head and into a group of people that value your presence and pour into you as you pour into them. Serving others is a great way to ultimately serve your basic human needs for community, connection and relationship - three key things that really make a stance against depression.
- Resist the temptation to self-medicate. Substances create a slippery slope that can heighten the shadow of depression. Resist the urge to numb the pain as it often elicits more in the long run.
- Fortify the fundamentals. It's incredible what good old fashioned exercise and quality eating can do for anyone, let alone those who are fighting depression. Endorphins, the natural byproduct of exercise are a fantastic mood booster, and vitamins and nutrients like B12 omega-3s help support natural energy and mental health. Convenient sprays and supplements are a tremendous way to get these vitamins and nutrients daily!
- Focus on what you can control and take the next, immediate right step. Depression looks behind you, anxiety ahead and peace is the present.
- Reach out if you need help. It's the strongest thing you can do. There's no weakness in asking for support and from friends and family to organizations like the Suicide Prevention Lifeline, teenage crises lines and more, people are at the ready no matter where you are in your journey.
Never forget that "the night is darkest before the dawn". Let the light in and today will be brighter.