To understand how to handle depression, you need to be able to identify the common symptoms.
Experiencing the highs and lows that come with life is part of the normal human experience. It is unlikely that anyone will go without experiencing some periods where some depression is present.
In this article, we’re taking a look at how to handle depression.
How to Handle Depression (One Day at a Time)
The key to diagnosing these negative experiences as a disorder lies in the longevity of the symptoms. If the depressive feelings don’t pass within a reasonable amount of time or don’t appear to be related to any rational cause, you may be suffering from a diagnosable condition of depressive disorder.
Here are some of the most common signs of depression and how to handle depression.
Signs of Depression
Before a problem can be treated, it needs to be identified. Depression has a way of creeping in and slowly making itself at home in your life. If you are questioning whether you may be suffering from depression, take a few moments to consider whether these character traits are coloring your daily landscape. Those who have already received a mood disorder diagnosis can attest to the symptoms on this list.
Feeling Sad, Hopeless, or Empty
One of the most obvious signs of depression is persistent sadness. You may cry unexpectedly throughout the day and at the drop of a hat. You may notice that your mouth has developed a permanent downturn. When you think about the future, there may be nothing but a blank wall in your imagination. You may be questioning what is the point of all of this daily grind, anyway. Your conception of identity as an important part of the human race may dim or fade.
Becoming Easily Irritated or Agitated
The flip side to sadness is anger. While sadness tends to focus on our internal lack of satisfaction, anger and irritation turn that focus outward. When we are already operating at low energy levels, the inconveniences and expectations imposed upon us by others can feel overwhelming. As a result, we may find ourselves snapping back at the people we care about.
Always Thinking About the Past
Being stuck in thoughts of the past is called rumination. A person with depression tends to spend a lot of time replaying past events and wishing things would have played out differently. In more severe cases of rumination, these past events are played out with the singular focus of saturating ourselves with guilt and regret.
Difficulty Concentrating or Making Decisions
With overwhelming feelings of sadness, lack of energy, and rumination in the works, it is little surprise that those who suffer from depression also struggle with being able to think clearly about the tasks at hand. If our brains were computer processors, depression would be a massive program continually running in the background and hogging up all of the RAM.
While the symptoms above are dreadful to experience, beginning to turn thoughts to the idea of escaping them through suicide is a flashing red light for depression. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for those suffering from a mental illness, and depression is the leading mental illness associated with it. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide that are reaching the point of you beginning to plan how you would go about it, reach out for help immediately.
Coping With Depression
It is highly recommended, and often quite beneficial, to seek professional help when experiencing persistent depression. Licensed therapists have many time-tested approaches to helping relieve the symptoms of depression and get to the core of what is causing the depression. Psychiatrists can work with you to identify any medications that may help relieve the symptoms of depression while you work toward eliminating them. In the meantime, there are several techniques that you can employ, on your own, to manage your symptoms.
Choose a Mental Vacation Spot
Most of us have heard jokes about going to our “happy place” in our heads. While it is a silly concept, there is actually a mental health benefit to doing so. Pick your favorite mental scenario, and resolve to take a few minutes to visit that place in your imagination each day. When you notice negative thoughts getting you down, remind yourself to take that quick mental vacation. You will likely come back from it with just a little more clarity and the ability to manage your day.
Ask For Good News
It is easy to become saturated in negativity during our current times. When confronted with yet another coworker or family story about the world’s problems, make it a point to follow up the venting session with a request for some good news. The more we put effort into sandwiching some good in between the bad, the more we can begin to foster emotional balance. Make sure to discipline yourself to practice the same technique of including a piece of good news with every piece of bad.
Make Positive Statements
Making positive statements is similar to asking for good news. Try starting your day by giving yourself a realistic compliment or two. Even if you can’t stop yourself from arguing that the compliments don’t apply, simply putting in the effort to make them can gradually cause a shift in your self-perception. Use positive statements with others every chance you get, as well. You will often find that the blessing you give someone else will simultaneously lift your spirits.
When we are depressed, it is all too easy to spend our day in bed. While that may be fine for an occasional reprieve, doing so too often can make us even more depressed. If you anticipate that your depression cycle will include staying in bed too long, be proactive about scheduling yourself an obligation to meet. Having that external pressure to show up at an appointment or complete some time-sensitive task can be the extra push we need to get going. Just make sure that it isn’t something that can be easily canceled!
Depression can be a debilitating disorder that affects every aspect of life. Now that you know some of the most common symptoms of depression and how to handle depression, think about whether or not you identify with anything above. If you feel down and often turn to substances to numb the emotional pain, you may be experiencing a co-occurring disorder.
Co-occurring disorders are characterized by both a mental disorder and a substance abuse disorder. It is important to reach out for help if this sounds familiar, as substance abuse can lead to addiction, which can seriously impact your overall health.
- Lubow CW. Experiences of Depression: Hopelessness. GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog. Published September 8, 2011. Accessed October 9, 2022. https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/hopeless-experience-depression/
- Pikorn I. What is Rumination & How To Relieve It. Insight Timer Blog. Published August 26, 2020. Accessed October 9, 2022. https://insighttimer.com/blog/what-is-rumination/
- Cyprus S. What is a Mental Vacation? (with pictures). Published October 2, 2022. Accessed October 9, 2022. https://www.wise-geek.com/what-is-a-mental-vacation.htm
- Moore C. Positive Daily Affirmations: Is There Science Behind It? PositivePsychology.com. Published March 4, 2019. Accessed October 9, 2022. https://positivepsychology.com/daily-affirmations/
Last medically reviewed October 9, 2022