Depression Sucks: Why it Strikes and How to Move Past It
I have worked with many clients whose depression is triggered by an event. It's like there's a switch that flips. One moment, they are feeling pretty good, life is plugging along nicely. Then something bad happens, such as a job loss, breakup or illness, and it hits them like a ton of bricks. Life changes overnight. The severity of the depression depends on many factors: simple genetics, how resilient one is, or how good one's support system is in helping, to name a few. Some people need to go to therapy to work through their feelings of grief and loss and others even need medication to correct a possible chemical imbalance in their brains. The treatment really depends on the person. Usually a treatment professional (therapist, psychologist, doctor) is needed to help you if the depression lasts longer than a couple weeks.
Bereavement is a different process. You need to be sad and mourn the loss of whomever was special in your life that died. It's actually not healthy to keep getting up every day feeling amazing, because likely you're not really connecting to your sadness and burying the emotion. Allow yourself to grieve, and go to therapy to process the loss.
Personally, I have had several bouts of depression in my life and I have found a few ways of dealing with it without using medications, however my case was not a chemical imbalance. Usually the difference is that those with situational depression can change their outlook or process past traumas in their life and eventually find relief, whereas those with a medical issue are more severe and do need a drug, such as an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), to boost the serotonin in their brain and help them feel better.
I have discovered through my own trial and error and with my clients, a few methods for treating depression so you can get back to living your life. Depression sucks! It's debilitating and makes everything you used to love seem just "eh." Remember that every feeling fades, so it will pass eventually. You can help yourself by not passively waiting to feel better. Actively trying to improve things for yourself so the sun shines again is possible and more effective. See a few ways that have helped me and my clients below:
1. Change your outlook by making a "Gratitude List." Put down everything you feel grateful for that you have and likely others don't. Even the little things count (my favorite bowl of Frosted Flakes every morning, my legs to walk me places, a place to live, etc).
2. Do something for others. I once volunteered at a homeless shelter when I was feeling pretty down on myself. Man did it change my outlook. Suddenly I saw that my problems were pretty insignificant and I could actually DO something about them. I wasn't hopeless anymore. It also helps improve your self-esteem because you're helping others and that always feels good.
3. Force yourself (if you can) to do things. This seems corny, but the old favorite natural methods for treating depression are classics because they work. Exercise, sunlight, and time with friends all do wonders for helping you feel healthier and less alone. Even getting an animal companion is a natural method of improving depression. It helps with the isolated feeling and gives you a purpose because you have to care for this living thing. Not all of those with depression can do these things, but if you can force yourself to do at least one, chances are you'll feel a least a little better.
4. Go to therapy to talk about what's making you feel so depressed! This may seem like a no-brainer, but many people (formally myself, I used to think therapy was silly), have a negative connotation when it comes to therapy. People often think going to therapy is only for "crazy" people or it somehow means they can't handle things by themselves and are "weak." Not true. Therapy is like Neosporin. Yes, you could heal that cut on your own, but it'll leave a darker, deeper scar without using Neosporin to help it heal in the cleanest, heathiest way possible.
Hope this helps all of you out there who have ever felt the terrible darkness of depression. Know you are not alone, and there is hope and help out there. You will laugh again. Eventually you'll stop crying. You will be okay.