Depression is a very misunderstood condition in our era. Some even believe it’s just a pseudo illness designed by psychiatrists to mulct funds from the wealthy. But, it’s very much real, and our research shows a large population suffering from this condition, and it’s just not the disease of rich people as some people would like to say, but people without susceptible to this mental disorder.
If you hunt it to the core, you will find that the roots of depression lie in the lack of motivation to do anything. People often lose interest in the things they enjoy. Overeating, oversleeping or lack of eating/lack of sleep is also evident. Depressed people avoid social gatherings because somewhere, they are still trying to swim against the wave of sadness. Even when joy appears in their life, they shun it because of self-pity. People, prone to depression, hold a shield against happiness from that one source which is the only source. The reason is often so subtle that the victim is lost finding the cause.
Recently, a 21-year-old woman contacted us. She suffered an accident in the past, and she was left with a major scar, on the forehead. She was an aspiring actress. The accident happened 18 months ago. She is not rich enough to go through an expensive scar surgery. She lost interest in acting and dancing which she enjoyed. For a year she shut herself in the boundaries of her room and closet. She didn’t share it with anyone. It is one of the worst reason depression remains untreated because people don’t come out and share. People feel sharing it won’t solve their problems, and the internet doesn’t significantly help too. So the only way to soothe yourself is to find the courage to talk to someone which will leave you with a breeze of positivity. Slow, but at least a little sign to hold on to hope!
We talked about the symptoms, but you are here for the causes, which in itself can be tricky and too layered to be recognized.
Depression has several causes. Generalizing it would be insensitive. Emotional loss, physical loss, financial loss, health issues or aging. Not getting something you always wanted. Getting everything you wanted, but now so hollow that you don’t have anything to cling on. Past traumas also lead to depression. But, to summarise it, there is a sense of void in the life that people think is irreparable. Take for the woman I mentioned above. She believes she lost her dream and feels nothing can replace the happiness of achieving that dream which she won’t be able to accomplish now. So she stopped doing what was lovely to her. Eventually, she was damaged to enjoy even small moments of her life like dining with a friend or a talking to her parents.
So, Here are 10 Effective ways to counter depression.
Find the triggers
You are not depressed 24×7. That is why people around you are not able to figure it out. It’s a default state of sadness. If they are happy, it’s half lived. A lot of depressed people have triggers. Triggers that skedaddle you into that dark alley and within seconds your mood might go from north to south.
The first step is to find the triggers and recognize them. Is it a photograph of your ex-girlfriend? Is it a person, friend, family member or a boss? Is it the environment? Or in the aspiring actresses case, her constant habit to check the mirror?! The more she immersed herself in the mirror, evident the mark became which avalanched into a pattern. So, the first thing we advised her is to not look in the mirror more than twice a day. There was a sudden improvement in her mood when she was not regularly checking out the mirror to see the mark.
So, whatever your triggers may be, rattle it out slowly. Just be a little aware, understand and perceive how suddenly your mood shifts and the reason behind it? Sometimes they are invisible. That leads us to the second way.
Be conscious of the auto-suggestion
Hidden triggers are often stimulated internally. You are free, sitting on your couch and suddenly a thought bursts inside making you feel worthless and alone. Well, every time your mind tells you something, you will have to make a conscious effort to attack it with optimism or a counter perspective. For someone, who recently suffered a breakup, you can feed yourself this line – “A break up doesn’t define me or my self-worth.” Some people value the best in me. I need to reach out to them. Since your auto-suggestion (your sulky self) naturally leans on to negativity, your primary reason to be depressed is already chalked out. You will have to feed optimism to your brain consciously, and after a point, maybe few weeks, your auto-suggestion will be fixed. For an analogy, we asked the aspiring actress to focus on her dance and acting, and whenever the thought “you are not beautiful enough” crosses your mind, dress your brain with as much positivity as you can. “I will be entertaining enough. I will make people laugh. I will make them cry. I will surprise them. I will get work!”
Simple thought suggestions can do wonder to your mood. Try it. At, first you might feel superficial, but you have to believe. For our faith in light has to be the strongest when there is no light.
Focus on Growth
We feel most dejected when we are not growing. It is true for you, and even for a billionaire. All animals are content once their survival needs are taken care off but for humans, when they achieve something they are happy, but it’s temporary. Soon they lookout for more. We know many examples of people who are highly successful, rich and famous but still depressed. It’s because they have grown exponentially in one area of life, but now feel stuck. This truth spans the entire human species.
Find ways to grow in areas of your life you overlooked. If you are always busy with work, try taking time out for your body. When you see growth in that aspect of your life that you often overlooked, your general temperament will improve. Learning a new instrument or take up a new sport that you always wanted. A yearning inside you since you were a kid but never took a step.
Choose your inner circle wisely
We are the people; we spend most of our time with. The people you roll with most of your time should have a positive effect on your life. Your inner circle should be optimistic people and also those who lack optimism (so that you can help them out further). Also, individuals who are compassionate and who push you to be a better person. When your support system is impervious to pessimism, it will continuously kickback self-sabotage.
I often advise people to look out for new friends, if the current ones are toxic. Sometimes it is true even for a family member, and in that case, you cannot just leave abruptly. It is advisable to try and influence them, but as a last measure, you can bounce! Or even limit your conversations with them. You cannot save two sinking ships at a time. Having positive and kind people around you makes you feel special, loved and worthy.
Age old technique to fight all physical and mental ailments is exercise. Now, this sounds cliche, but it’s a cliche for a simple reason that it works! So, get off from your couch twice a day, do some push ups and pull ups. Go for a jog or lift weights. When your body is under pressure, your mind’s top priority is to stabilize the balance and protect it. Hence, all the thoughts that choke you disappear instantly. Going back to the first point, never let the triggers emerge during this period, or you will not feel like exercising. If it does, just run! Like Forrest Gump. Run till you don’t want to stop. Avoiding inaction is very important.
At times, depressed people need to shift their perception. We all are raised and nurtured in different ways. But, sometimes the way we look at things has a significant flaw may be because of our upbringing, social environment or Media.
When we heard the story of the aspiring actress, we found a flaw in her viewpoint. She thought that beauty is the only path to success. Which was right according to the way she looked at the world. With utmost honesty and compassion her concern is not trivial, but, if she keeps focusing on her weakness, her chances of success will be negligible. Maybe she won’t fit into one category of actors, but she might fit very well into another category. That is the kind of shift we want you to adapt.
We all are different. We cannot fit in all ways. A needle mustn’t try to be a haystack in the haystack.
Don’t feel bad if you are sad
Sometimes we beat ourselves too much. It’s okay to be sad sometimes, and it makes us value our happy times. We have to make sure our sadness should not be in a constant state. Depressed people become so self-critical that they only point out negative things about themselves and include a feeling of self-hate. One should avoid such behavior. Depression is a killer duo of anger and sadness. One after the other, the mood dabbles between the two. Sometimes it’s the complete lack of feelings. In all this complex alchemy of emotions, one must understand our emotions are just chemical secretions. So now you are sad because your body is secreting those chemicals. Hence, we can control these chemicals by controlling our mood and thought to avoid hate, anger and cultivate self-love scooped with some compassion.
Remember, round-the-clock happiness is a myth! So, some sad hiccups might jolt. Always look for the silver lining.
Listen to Music or Watch movies
Sometimes, all our mind needs is an elegant distraction like watching a movie or a sitcom. I advise you to watch American sitcoms like Love, F is for a family, where writers are not trying to avoid everyday problems. Instead, they show characters with everyday issues like us, and how they fight against the grime. This kind of realistic content will help you understand that there are people out there with similar problems and how they surpassed it. Escapist content (like superhero movies which makes you feel invincible) might also help too. But, a general observation was made which revealed that people with depression tend to hate those movies.
They tend to realize something like this is never going to happen to them in life. But, if you like it, go for it! Don’t think twice! Listen to music. Lots of artists express outright what they feel. Listen to uplifting music. But, it’s also good if you listen to artists who make music about issues you face. You won’t feel alone.
Don’t sit alone at home all day. Call some old friends, get in touch with them. Just by reaching out to them will pump the fact in you that there are people out there, who have struggles too. We all have our fights. Meet your parents every fortnight. Do things for others who need your help, it will not only make you feel good but would help the person in need.
Collaborate on activity. If your friend’s dad has a birthday and if she is baking a cake, then join hands. Being together can enhance your happiness level.
Try to be loud to people (not literally), or talk to them at least. We know you don’t feel like it, but in depression, it’s natural to feel like it. So, grab every opportunity you have to reach out. Sometimes even force yourself to go out if necessary.
Therapy is a significant tool to counter depression. One of the considerable benefits of this process is that the therapist listens to your personal story and gives solutions based on those. Many times, people cannot figure out the causes or triggers in such cases. Also, expert guidance can do great wonders. They are professionally trained and might have had patients with similar problems as yours, that get over your issue of being-alone-with-myself which persists again and again and people in the past, facing the same muck as you are, have gone past it!
Always remember depression is a treatable disorder. It requires patience and practice to recover. In time you will overcome it. Have faith. With love, avoid mental diarrhea. Eat well. Feel good.
On an ending note, would love to share a beautiful prayer by Kurt Vonnegut,
GOD GRANT ME
THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT
THE THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE,
TO CHANGE THE THINGS, I CAN,
AND WISDOM ALWAYS
TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE.