Depression. That ever-elusive “ghost” that we never seem to get a handle on. That’s the rub right there. Depression can’t be nailed down to one reason. There isn’t one main cause as to why depression happens. It can manifest due to biological reasons, situational, stress, or medication. Depression can be short-term, or it can be persistent and long-term.
For as long back as I can recall. I’ve always had some form of depression. It didn’t rear its ugly head full-force until after I was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. It has been a long road to recovery, and I am a much better person from the experience of learning healthy coping skills
I’ve compiled a list of strategies and tools that are working for me. Remember, what is working for me may not necessarily work for someone else. These are strategies that help me work through some of the more challenging parts of life circumstances.
5 Ways to Ease Depression
- Talk About It: Therapy is a mental health wellness strategy I believe in the most. You either want it, hate it, or think we don’t need it. Therapy is never easy and can take a long time for change to take hold. In my opinion, that’s the part that loses people. Including me. At one time I wanted change to happen overnight. When I got just a whiff of feeling good, I would leave. Talking to someone who is objective (and professionally trained) is monumental. One of the biggest things I’ve learned through therapy is you can’t get all of your needs met through only one relationship. Yes, it’s healthy to talk with our loved about our challenges, but sometimes how we unload can be too burdensome for those we unload our baggage on.
- Getting to the root of stress: Piggy-backing off the first one, getting to the root of what is causing stress or how PTSD developed is a critical part in changing. If we don’t what what is causing the depression, we will continue to repeat unhealthy patterns and behaviors.
- Pause and Breathe: This coping strategy speaks to me in volumes, and can be used any time! Healthy coping skills are skills that help us manage stress and crisis so our behavior doesn’t become maladaptive. Coping skills can be healthy or unhealthy. For example, when I’m feeling stressed out, my coping mechanism is to binge on unhealthy food. For me, food is a quick numbing tool that allows me to feel some relief from what is causing distress. It’s a coping skill that once worked for me as a young kid, but no longer serves me as an adult and has become maladaptive behavior. Utilizing a healthy coping strategy would be pausing, and taking a breath so I am able look at what’s stressing me out. It’s that one single moment that can make a world of difference.
- Our thoughts: We can’t always escape our thoughts, and if we do, it’s only temporary before they come flooding back. I am here to say that you can learn ways to soothe the savage beast called over thinking. Ppssst. Hey, you. This is where those healthy coping skills I mentioned earlier step in. Usually for me it starts with a strong fixation on certain thoughts or a situation that has caused distress. The distressthen triggers me to binge eat. So, taking a step back and pausing before I reach for that 2 pound bag of peanut M&M’s will allow me to clearly see what my mind has been fixated on. It’s not perfect, but once it becomes a familiar practice, recovery time lessens and your resilience deepens.
- Investigate your diet: Not only is our digestive tract a gateway towards a healthy immune system, a troubled intestinal tract can send messages of distress to the brain causing anxiety and depression. Diets high in sugar and saturated fats can contribute to a turbulent digestive system. I know when my tummy feels good, my brain feels good. Check out my Stewed Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Chicken Legs recipe for a yummy gut friendly meal.
People, places and things: Triggers are everywhere. And as creatures of behavior (or habit), and faced with unhealthy places, people or things, we are more likely to get triggered by anxiety and depression. In other words, limit or remove the toxic people, places and things that don’t serve your mental wellness.
If you would like to go deeper into the different types of depression, I recommend checking out Better Help – What Are The 5 Types Of Depression? They go into detail about 5 different forms of depression.
If you feel depressed and need to talk to someone, please reach out to a family member or friend and let them know you need help. If you don’t have that kind of access please call SAMHAS – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Disclaimer: I am not clinical physician, doctor, psychologist or therapist. I only write about what I know from lived experiences pertaining to mental health, strategies I’ve learned and implement, and higher education in psychology. Always seek medical help if you feel unsafe or that your mental health is at risk.