Having had a rough few weeks recently, I found myself becoming more and more anxious and depressed. Over the years I have developed certain coping skills for depression that make a big difference before I go into free-fall mode, and I hope this article will help some others too.
Most importantly, I have learnt, that if one stays aware of your mental state, you can take action to prevent a complete meltdown or depressive episode.
Each person has their own experience of depression, but for me the telltale signs where all there.
- Not sleeping well
- Being too worried about small things
- Feeling tearful
- Feeling exhausted without reason
- Aches and pains in my joints
- Angry outbursts about stupid problems
- Metal fog – being slightly forgetful and unable to focus
Awareness and Responsibility
Awareness and responsibility are the two pillars of dealing with any problem and with depression even more so.
Perhaps because of the stigma of depression, and also the impact it has on our personal lives, we don’t like admitting that we are on a downward spiral. Becoming aware that all is not well is therefore the first step.
The next one is to accept and admit to yourself that this isn’t just going to disappear on its own. This can be quite a challenge, even for people that have been dealing with depression for years. When it has gone well for a while, its quite disheartening to have to admit that that big old black dog is back. (The black dog is a term my friends and I use for depression, you can just imagine a huge big black slobbering dog sitting on top of you!)
Even though you might not feel like it, its your own responsibility to do something about the situation. No one else can do it for you, so step three is to assess how bad it is, and what needs to be done.
Coping skills for depression
The first skill that is essential in coping with depression is self evaluation. This is different from person to person, but I’ve created grades of depression and actions to take for myself. It takes some of the thinking out of it. Make your own list, and if you want you can share it in the comments. (Here are the main symptoms of depression)
- Grade 0 – no depression, celebrate life, live consciously and enjoy.
- Grade 1 – feeling unreasonably tired and frustrated – for me this is really mild. Action: I need to up my dose of Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin C, Omega 3 and Gaba stimulating supplements. Pro-biotics also do wonders here. Mark on a calendar how I feel every day to check how long it lasts and if every day is the same.
- Grade 2 – Tired, frustrated tearful and convinced I’m unloved. Danger signs appear for me when I start feeling unloved – no one can ever fill that black hole, as its my perception that is problematic, not their actions or words. Action: Supplements, meditation, more exercise, daily planning – this organizational exercise helps me recognize what I’ve achieved in the day. Continue with the calendar marking. Tell my loved ones what is going on, so they don’t feel its their fault.
- Grade 3. Have been feeling wrong for 2 weeks. All the symptoms above and resentful that I have to get out of bed. If the steps above don’t get me to feel an improvement within a week I find professional help with a counselor or psychologist.
Where does Gratitude come in?
A few years ago, I found one of the most wonderful ways to lift myself out of a dark and anxious place.
Friends introduced me to the 28 day gratitude practice in a book called “The Magic”. Since I’ve started doing this practice, my recurring depression has reduced massively. The fact that one is forced to focus on and recognize the many things that you have, and that go right day after day, helps you gain perspective. It also gives you a feeling of calm and abundance about your circumstances.
Yes, I believe that mood disorders can be managed and even cured through the right practices and supplements, I’m a living example.
The biggest thing I noticed in my recent dive down, was that I had been slacking off with the Gratitude work, because once again i had started taking things for granted. On my Books page you can find reviews of “The Magic” and other helpful resources.
I have nothing against any method that helps a person feel better, but just as we need to be aware and responsible about our depression, we have to be aware and responsible about medications.
Unfortunately there are two problems surrounding the prescription of medication for depression that have emerged in recent years.
1. Self medication: people who struggle with depression, and/or anxiety often decide for themselves what they need. They get prescription for the meds that they are used to, and when something new comes along they ad that to the mix. This is utterly irresponsible.
Benzodiazepines (calming and sleeping meds) are highly habit forming, and can lead to addiction issues, also, withdrawal from Benzo’s cause anxiety and depression. Go figure.
SSRI’s (modern antidepression meds) only work for some, and the best way to use them are in conjunction with counselling. I have friends and clients that take up to 20 mood related tablets a day. If you are in that place, perhaps its time to get help. Clean up, see who you are under all that dope, and start from scratch. Also, read my article about Supplements for Mental Wellness.
2. Over-medication by proffessionals: I am sad to say that certain medical professionals are irresponsible in their prescriptions. These practitioners fail to check what other medication the person is using, or simply stack one drug on top of another. My advice is, take responsiblity! Ask what meds are for, how they work and what their interactions are with other drugs. In this case, less is often more!
My three big words for depression are therefore:
I hope someone can get something out of this! Please feel free to comment or message me if you have some other opinions or experiences.