Stopping Depression before it Overpowers you
Sometimes it helps me to visualize my depression as an entity that I must vanquish. Before my depression renders me a lifeless shell I must weaken it. But how? It is my belief that any negative “force” in life grows bigger and unmanageable if we feed it. Depression needs fuel to keep it going. This analogy can work if we examine which of our thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and actions provide fodder for the beast of depression. If we cease to fuel the monster it will die or at least be diminished to a size which we can more easily handle.
Here are some ways to deprive your depression from gathering strength:
1. Deprive your depression of purposelessness.
Certain phrases stick in your brain as in “I have no purpose” or “life has no meaning.” Depression is whispering these incantations in your ear. If you listen you will be lured in to believe. Once you believe you will make these otherwise throwaway thoughts your mantra. Starve your depression by not listening. The obvious rebuttal is that you DO have purpose. Maybe you haven’t found it yet. Perhaps it is difficult to enact your purpose. But you do have one.
How does one find purpose and meaning? Explore your gifts. Create. Build. Share your talents and gifts with others. Teach. Mentor. Volunteer. Be still and listen to your gut. What is it telling you that you have always wanted to do? Look at the people who have made the greatest difference in the world. Usually these are people that have been broken many times over. But in the end they challenged the belief that they didn’t matter. They found meaning beyond the pain and suffering in life.
De-fuel your depression by believing that you matter and have a purpose.
2. Deprive your depression of biological vulnerability.
It is my belief that an entrenched depression needs biological help. Sometimes we give our depression fuel by neglecting our physical body. When we feel physically unwell we are automatically more at risk for developing depression. In many instances an untreated medical condition can not only exacerbate depression but be a causal factor. An untreated thyroid condition, diabetes, and heart disease are just several medical conditions which are associated with depression.
Then too, there are elements of our lifestyle which can contribute to growing depression. When you don’t get the vitamins and nutrients you need from food and supplements depression can grow. Certain vitamin deficiencies such as a Vitamin B-12 deficiency have been linked to depression. Not sleeping well can be another factor in increasing your risk for depression. Individuals who do not get any exercise are also sitting ducks for depression.
De-fuel your depression by giving your body what it needs. See your doctor about how to treat any medical conditions you may have. Be diligent about eating right, getting a good night’s sleep, and getting some daily exercise.
3. Deprive your depression of isolation.
In a previous post we talked about how some personalities may be more prone to depression including introverts. We love our solitude and alone time yet when depression develops, the tendency to isolate can do us more harm than good. A common reaction of someone who is depressed is to push others away and say, “Leave me alone.” Some alone time can be good to re-energize and rest from social encounters. But too much alone time leaves us stranded within our heads where we can ruminate without boundaries. As much as we like to think that we don’t need other people, we really do. The trick is to find the right people to be around when we are depressed.
Depression is less likely to fester and grow when we have support. For those people who cannot find support within their family, it is essential to find support among friends or people who you deem trustworthy. Support can also be found online through such sites such as My Depression Connection or from a local support group where you can meet people in person. A good therapist or counselor is also a way to fight off isolation by having someone you can talk to on a scheduled basis.
De-fuel your depression by not giving in to isolating yourself from others. Build a support system you can count on when you become depressed. Prevent depression by scheduling regular contact with people you can talk to and trust.
Whatever we nourish and feed in our life will be sure to grow. Make sure that you are feeding the right things like your mental health. Stop feeding your depression by thinking that you don’t matter, neglecting your physical health, and isolating yourself.
Can you relate to any of these fuels for depression? Are there any other ways that you have been “feeding” your depression and making it worse? Talk to us about it. We are here to listen and to help.