3 Self-Help Tips for Combating the Symptoms of Depression
Psychologists and other professionals in the mental health community emphasize that people who suffer from depression cannot simply “snap out of it.” Unfortunately, many people with depression hear from their friends and family members that that is exactly what they should do. And while such advice is usually well-intentioned, it’s also misguided, as any mental health counselor will tell you that people with depression need professional medical help in order to get a handle on their illness.
While seeking the help of a qualified mental health professional is preferred, if you think you’re experiencing depression, there are some strategies that you can use to cope with it until you can get professional help.
Learn to Recognize Negative Self-Talk and Challenge These Thoughts
Many people with depression have unhealthy, negative thoughts about themselves and the world around them. They may quickly dismiss themselves with statements like, “Everyone hates me,” or “I’m ugly.” Likewise, their view of the world may seem bitter or hopeless. This is where self-awareness and the ability to recognize these thoughts is important.
Once you learn to identify these thoughts, you can begin to challenge them by asking yourself a series of questions: “What do I know that contradicts this thought? What would I say to a friend in a similar situation?” Imagining a friend or family member in your situation may give better, objective insight, and hopefully ease you into positive self-talk. Challenging your negative views can help you think about situations in different ways.
Make a Habit of Reaching Out to Family and Friends
When your depression rears its ugly head, you’re likely to isolate yourself from those close to you. When you feel the symptoms of your depression starting to take over, commit to reaching out to a family member or friend to talk it out.
It may seem easier to keep to yourself, rather than share thoughts and feelings with someone. But staying wrapped up in your own thoughts can lead to harmful, possibly destructive behavior. Depression that reaches this level can lead to unhealthy addictions or suicidal thoughts and actions. Making an effort to talk with people close to you can prevent a lot of pain and struggle for yourself and those involved in your life.
Make a Commitment to Regular Exercise
It may seem impossible to muster up the motivation to head to the gym or pop in a workout DVD, but exercise is one of the most beneficial things you can do to beat your depression.
“For many years, experts have known that exercise enhances the action of endorphins, chemicals that circulate throughout the body. Endorphins improve natural immunity and reduce the perception of pain. They may also serve to improve mood,” explains an article in Harvard Health Publications. “Another theory is that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which may directly improve mood.”
The activity does not even have to be intense. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that a 10-minute walk can provide as much benefit as a 45-minute workout. The effects may be temporary – lasting several hours following a workout, for instance – but regular exercise can help to combat the symptoms of depression before they start.
These are just a few of many self-help strategies that can help you manage the symptoms of depression. A single strategy may not be the ultimate solution, but relying on a combination of positive habits and techniques can go a long way.
Steve Johnson co-created PublicHealthLibrary.org with a fellow pre-med student. The availability of accurate health facts, advice, and general answers is something Steve wants for all people, not just those in the health and medical field. He continues to spread trustworthy information and resources through the website, but also enjoys tennis and adding to his record collection in his spare time.
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