In a study done by the National Network Depression Center, it was discovered that one in every five Americans will be affected by depression during their lifetimes. It is the leading cause of disability impacting those between ages 15-44.
Major depression disorder, or MDD, is a mood disorder that affects how you think and feel and affects your activities of daily living. A person suffering from this illness has a low self-esteem, low energy levels, and loss of interest in activities he usually enjoys. Oftentimes, it is genetically based and can be very difficult to manage. Most of the time, people with this condition need to take psychiatric medications. However, 80% of patients show improvement within four to six weeks of treatment.
This encouraging statistic doesn’t mean a person suffering from this disorder can immediately bounce back without any risk of relapse. You need to avoid the ruminating and emotional paralysis that often comes with depression. These two make it hard for a patient to implement the behavioral modifications needed to recover from MDD. Fortunately, some techniques can help overcome MDD.
1. See things from a different perspective
Most of the time, depression is accompanied by psychological nearsightedness, in which the sufferer repeats negative thoughts to him/herself. These words usually go along the lines of “I’m so pissed at myself”, “I don’t deserve to be loved”, or “I’m useless”. If unchecked, a patient deep in these thoughts can spend an entire counseling session just staring at the floor.
Usually, you’re missing a whole lot of other views because you’re staring too intently at one specific spot. If you just try to look around, there’s a bunch of things you can observe: a lampshade, a book, a plant, or a picture.
There’s a lot of ways to view anything, and there is always a plan B. Instead of telling yourself that everything is hopeless, you just need to stop looking at the ground, look up and consider other options.
2. Focus on a happy memory.
Revisiting painful memories, like failed business ventures or a painful rejection from a potential partner, can tip you into going down the rabbit hole. But before you totally lose yourself in emotional catatonia, and let the dark feelings consume you, it is always a good idea to close your eyes, relax, and visit a happy memory.
It can be a wonderful day at the beach with your family, or your proudest moment in life. Try to picture the details: the smiles of the people around you, the colors, the sounds. Relive this beautiful experience, and allow yourself to smile a little bit.
Whenever you feel like you’re losing the fight with an awful memory, always go back to your special thoughts and conjure the details of your happiest moment. There’s no better counter to a painful memory than positive thoughts.
3. Say something positive
A person suffering from MDD has already mastered the art of self-loathing. When asked how he sees himself, he rarely talks about the good things. A depressed person always starts describing how much he hates himself, or how boring and ugly he is.
For the depressed, these negative thoughts are the absolute truth. His self-image is distorted, and he believes that his identity is something to be ashamed of.
Professionals who do counseling say that usually when people are asked to enumerate good things about themselves, they’re usually speechless. At first, they start with simple things like “I’m caring”, and as you prod them with compliments, they start to think of better things to say about themselves.
Creating a list immensely helps with this step. You can jot down all the beautiful things about you, and when you’re starting to think negatively about yourself, you can think of these attributes and repeat them to yourself like a mantra. Family and friends can also help depressed patients who have this problem by adding things to the list.
It also helps to compile and print out your list on a piece of paper and carry it with you wherever you go. It is also advisable to write down good thoughts on sticky notes and put them in places where you can always see them. Posting a bright yellow post-it with the words “You’re Beautiful” on your mirror will make you smile whenever you check on your reflection.
Spiritually speaking, you are what you feed yourself, so make sure you feed yourself with positive vibes every day.
4. Make some plans
One of the signs of clinical depression is detachment from loved ones and the intense desire to hide from the world by being alone. It becomes difficult to connect with people, and making plans becomes a chore, especially now that people tend to spend more time on the Internet.
Studies show that limiting social media to thirty minutes per day can help reduce depression. It’s essential to spend time showering, dressing up and socializing with people. You can make plans to bake cakes with a friend or visit the zoo. Always have something specific planned. You’ll see that the more you breathe in fresh air, the more refreshed you feel.
5. Find something to anticipate
A 2007 study showed that people experience an emotional lift when they are anticipating a future event as compared to just reminiscing about past activities. So whenever you’re down, search for something to write in your planner that will make you feel excited.
You can purchase a ticket to your favorite band’s concert, or book a three-day vacation. You can search for a class that teaches that skill you’ve always been wanting to learn. Pick something that will suit your personality. Some even volunteer at soup kitchens – choose whatever makes you feel better about yourself!
Battling depression can be tough, but with some effort and a lot of loving support from family and friends, it is possible to overcome. Surround yourself with the people and the things that make you happy, and you can emerge victorious from your fight with major depression disorder.