Three hundred million people worldwide suffer from depression, and 16.2 million adults in the U.S. have had at least one depressive episode in a given year. Although it’s not uncommon to feel sadness from time to time, major depression is much more. Lasting feelings of sadness, lowered energy, loss of appetite, and lack of interest in things that once made you happy can be overwhelming. Depression leaves no age, race, or gender untouched, although women are twice as likely as men to experience a depressive episode. Clinical depression is manageable with the right treatment and coping strategies.
Learning How to Cope
Depression can feel like a force sucking the life right out of you. Most who are diagnosed know what things they can do to feel better, but just the thought of doing them may seem impossible. There is not a cure-all for depression that will work immediately, as most available treatments take time to see the effects. Finding the right one, or combination of options, takes diligent work with your doctor, and patience. Learning how to cope in the meantime, or when things get worse, is a necessity.
Helpful Coping Mechanisms:
- Stay Connected– Build a solid group of loved ones who you can reach out to for support. Do your best to keep up with social activities, even if you don’t feel like it.
- Do the Things that Make you Feel Good– Schedule fun things to do through the day that energize and relax you.
- Keep Moving– Exercise is a mental health booster and something you can do now that will boost your mood. Thirty minutes a day is the recommendation, and rhythmic exercises have the best benefits like walking, running, Tai Chi, and swimming.
- Eating Healthy– Your diet has a direct impact on the way you feel. Avoid overindulging in sugars and refined carbs. Don’t skip meals and add more foods with Vitamin B (citrus fruit, leafy greens, chicken, eggs), and ones that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids (tuna, salmon, flaxseed, and soybeans).
- Daily Dose of Sunlight– Serotonin is a mood booster and is activated by the rays of the sun. Fifteen minutes daily is all you need with the proper precautions taken.
Some days taking the first step is difficult. Starting small and being consistent can make it more comfortable, along with working closely with your doctor if things become overwhelming.