Updated: Feb 24, 2021
Depression is dark and oppressive. It is more than a situation that causes you to feel down for a period of time. It is a debilitating state that affects all aspects of your life. It is often paired with crippling Anxiety. It is a serious condition that requires delicate care balanced with a fight for life. Often there is a strong biochemical component (brain) and outside factors and environment (body) that are at play.
2020 has been a fight for survival. The life that we knew has been turned upside down. This past year, we have faced illness, heartache, racism, loss, and social norms are no longer "normal." It has been tough, and if this past year has left you feeling down or depressed, you are not alone.
Depression is not meant to be faced alone. With the right tools and support, you can recover. Hopelessness, grief, and anger are all valid feelings. There are ways to combat depression. With the help of a qualified therapist, depression can be treated. You can implement strategies this year to keep it from entering your life.
2021 may or may not be easier, but either way, you have already built up your resilience. You can keep depression at bay with these 7 P's to fighting depression. Take inventory on your life, and make it a goal to have a healthy balance of some of these things as a way to fight depression. Let's knock it out in 2021!
1. Purpose - What have you discovered about yourself this past year? What defines you? What gives you hope and a passion or PURPOSE? This is one of the most important antidotes for hopelessness. If you can find meaning in your life, then it is not worth losing.
2. Play - Give yourself permission to laugh, play, and find humor in even the hardest situations. Playing can change our brain chemistry and allow us to laugh and smile. Find a way to play with your family. Pick up a board game, dance in your room, or sing in the car. Find fun ways to mix it up when life seems mundane and repetitive.
3. Plan - Planned activities and events give us something to look forward to. Schedule a face time call with a friend or make a date to watch a movie with your partner. Plans help us look ahead and give us a goal. If you can't plan that trip to Hawaii, make a plan to "plan the trip" and start a trip journal or collage.
4. Physical Exercise - Make sure you are getting enough physical exercise. It is key to helping you stay healthy but also keeping your mind healthy too. We know that exercise releases "happy feelings" or endorphins and we want to make sure that our brain is getting enough when dealing with depression. Even a 20 minute walk outside can be beneficial to your wellbeing and mood.
5. People - Having a support system in place to offer encouragement and accountability when you are feeling depressed is very important. Who can you talk to when things feel overwhelming? Do you have a therapist or mentor that you can check in with weekly? You can set up a system of having your loved ones text you throughout the week to make sure that your sadness is not too much.
6. Perspective - Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is key to changing your negative thought patterns. Ruminating and replaying the same cognitive distortions can bring you to rock bottom. The best way to counter these thoughts is through CBT with a qualified therapist. Thought logs and daily check ins with your thoughts can be useful to build healthy thinking patterns to target negative thoughts and change your depressed mood.
7. Prescription - It is always important to check in with you Primary Care Physician to rule out any General Medical conditions that are impacting your mood. As a therapist, I am not a Doctor and do not prescribe medications. A trusted Psychiatrist or your PCP can talk with you about the biochemical component of how a prescription may be a helpful addition to talk therapy.
Be well, think well, in 2021.