Everyone feels down now and again. But if your blue mood lingers for days, weeks, or even months at a time, you may be experiencing depression. Now, only a clinician can give you an official diagnosis. But whether you’re officially depressed or not, there are still things you can do to help regulate your mental well-being. Read on to learn about four tips that you can use to help manage your depression.
1. Seek Therapy
If you’ve never gone to therapy before, it may seem like something reserved for people who are severely struggling. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Going to therapy can be helpful for just about anyone. And doing so doesn’t mean something is inherently wrong with you.
Experiencing difficult thoughts can feel overwhelming at times. But by speaking them aloud to a trained professional, you can begin to weaken their power over you. In this way, therapy is like a declawing process for your thoughts. It’s all about holding up a mirror to your mind to help you see what’s going on more clearly.
A good therapist will be able to recommend helpful practices and techniques to help you process your thoughts and emotions. And, if for whatever reason you want to see a therapist from the comfort of your home, you can. Betterhelp, Talkspace, and Amwell are reputable online platforms that will connect you with a licensed professional. While there is no cure-all for depression, therapy is a great place to get your bearings and start treating it.
2. Take Medication
One reason you may be experiencing depression is because of a lack of serotonin. Serotonin is a multifaceted neurotransmitter responsible for affecting numerous biological functions, like learning, memory, and mood regulation. And if you don’t have enough serotonin, it can lead to a depressive state. That’s why many medications addressing depression are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.
SSRIs limit your neurons’ ability to absorb serotonin. Basically, this means that there is more serotonin present in your body for a longer amount of time. And you may be surprised how much balance an SSRI can restore to your brain.
Most SSRIs come in the form of a daily pill. They’re small, often tasteless, and taking them is relatively simple to incorporate into your routine. There are many potential SSRIs to choose from, but Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft are some of the most commonly prescribed. If deemed appropriate, these medications can be incredibly effective and are well worth considering to help treat your depression. Like going to therapy, taking medication can help give you a solid foundation to reclaim agency in your life.
3. Build a Support System
Humans are social creatures by nature and often need the help of others to get through life. So if you haven’t already, reach out to friends, family, or other loved and trusted individuals for support. Chances are that one of them or someone they know has gone through something similar. And despite still being somewhat taboo, depression is much more common than you might think.
If you feel like you don’t have a social support system you can rely on, now is the time to build one. Besides seeing a therapist, you can search for support groups that address whatever you might be enduring. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the oldest and largest support groups for individuals struggling with alcoholism. And there are many similar organizations, like Narcotics Anonymous, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the American Cancer Society.
Besides official support groups, you can develop your social circle by pursuing activities and hobbies you enjoy. If you love physical exercise, for example, take a class at your local gym. You’ll be able to connect with other enthusiasts while developing healthy habits at the same time. Life can be hard. So developing a robust support system is essential for coping with difficult times.
4. Do Something Different
When was the last time you did something different? Not just changing your regular coffee order, but something really, really different? There’s a reason they say variety is the spice of life. Without it, things can get bland.
Spontaneity isn’t a characteristic reserved for quirky people. Anyone can be spontaneous — you just have to decide to do something different at a moment’s notice. And it can be healthy for you to make a snappy decision. Being spontaneous can make you happier, reopening your mind to curiosity and wonder.
How do you be more spontaneous? Maybe it does start with that coffee order, getting a cortado when you usually get a macchiato. Or choose to walk down a street you’ve never been down on your commute. Drop by a friend’s place after work just because you were in the neighborhood. Being spontaneous is all about following that curious feeling of “What if?” and seeing where it goes.
Put It All Together
As mentioned before, when it comes to treating depression, there’s no cure-all. What works for one person may work for you or it may not. What’s most important is to keep trying until you find your personal solution.
That solution may be a cocktail of multiple therapies and techniques. You might find taking medication and injecting more spontaneity into your life helpful. Or you may prefer quiet therapy sessions on the weekend. Try different things and see what works best for you.
No matter what you do, make sure you reach out to at least one person for help. That person could be your best friend, a family member, or even a peer at work. Struggling with depression is hard enough. Going through it alone is even worse. So make sure you’ve got someone on your team, cheering you on.