Harry’s Story: Overcoming Severe Depression
Sitting at my desk as I try to start this story, I’m struggling to decide where to begin and I can feel it coming on. Shivers up my arms and into my neck, a heavy chest, now my legs start, I’m not sure if I’m hot or cold, my chest gets heavier as my body decides whether to fight or take flight.
Luckily, I’m aware of what’s going on my head remains calm as I write these words. Letting myself become overcome with the anxiety that is taking hold of my body, the natural response I feel when confronted with difficult tasks or stress, is not going to happen. I’d like to show that if they’re spotted early enough, mental health problems can be managed and even prevented.
Dealing with depression is an everyday struggle. It’s definitely true that some days are worse than others, but I’ve learned to manage it, to become aware of my symptoms, my triggers, and to remain in control.
However, this has not always been the case. It’s only of late that I have come to understand what’s going on inside and the relationship between my body and mind. Awareness is the key to prevention and that is why I’d like to share with you my story of battling depression. I don’t want anyone else to feel the way I have done, to feel trapped and isolated by mental health problems and to not be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Meditation And Mindfulness Practices
These types of therapies help you be more aware of your feelings and better cope with them.
Mindfulness programs help train the mind to become less reactive to negative thoughts or emotions and instead calmly observe them without judgment, which helps people feel more at ease. Yoga is another excellent way to increase mindfulness through physical activity as well.
Break Up With Caffeine
A cup of coffee, chocolate, or an ice-cold Coke might help you feel better. But if caffeine is your go-to drug of choice, your anxiety could worsen.
Caffeine gives the nervous system a jolt, which can boost energy levels. But when under pressure, this nervous energy can induce an anxiety attack. Now, the idea of giving up your favorite caffeinated beverage might raise your heart rate and induce anxiety as you read this, but you dont have to stop cold turkey or give up caffeine completely. Its all about moderation.
Rather than four cups of coffee a day, scale back to one or two normal-sized cups a day normal as in 8 ounces, not 16 or 32 ounces. Give it a test run and see how you feel. As you wean yourself, slowly introduce other beverages into your diet such as decaffeinated herbal tea, which can calm your mind and nerves.
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Tend To Your Social Life
When you’re depressed, there’s no reason to go it alone, and there are all sorts of reasons to reach out to friends and family. Make plans with loved ones and keep those dates. Join a club or sign up for a group activity such as a local dodgeball league or a French class.
Other things you might try:
- Join a support group. Talking to other people who are going through similar experiences and challenges can be informative and helpful.
- Schedule activities. Having routines can be helpful when you are going through depression. Create a daily schedule that includes spending time with others. You are more likely to stick to it if it’s a scheduled event.
- Volunteer.Joining a cause that you care about is a great way to meet new people and expand your social circle.
The problem is that depression often causes people to withdraw, which only further exacerbates feelings of isolation and loneliness. Even when you don’t feel like going out or being social, try reaching out in whatever way is most comfortable for you. Enlist a few of your closest loved ones who understand what you are experiencing.
Doing the things you used to do might not bring you quite the same enjoyment when you are depressed, but getting out of the house and spending time with people who care about you can help you feel better.
Tips For Men Coping With Anxiety And Depression
There are lots of things you can do to look after your health and wellbeing, so find an approach that best suits you. For example, try to stay active and make plans for the day they dont have to be grand plans, just small things like going for a run or talking to a mate.
Try to include activities or hobbies that you specifically enjoy. At first, you may not enjoy them as much as you did before, but if you keep active and persist, the enjoyment should eventually return.
Its important to look after your body by staying physically active, eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep. Try not to drink alcohol or take other drugs to block out how youre feeling and what is happening. This is not a positive long-term solution and can make the anxiety or depression worse.
The important thing is to find the right options and the right health professionals that suit you.
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Fast Foods Link To Depression
How often are you using the fast-food drive-thru? Virtually everything sold there puts you at higher risk for depression and anxiety.
Most other products you find in a drive-thru are heavily processed and filled with preservatives for maximum shelf life. In other words, theyre denatured, and your body has to work excessively to digest them.
This imbalance in your gut takes energy away from higher neurological functions, because when your body is funneling a lot of energy towards digestion and wrangling unnatural, unhealthy foods, thats energy that isnt freed up for your mental reserves. Again and again, new research shows the strong connection between gut health and brain function.12
Possibly the worst thing coming out of the drive-thru are toxic, heavy fats like trans fats, which are difficult to metabolize and cause cellular damage.
The fried foods you buy in the grocery store have got to go, too. Chips, gone. Please.
How To Fight Off Seasonal Depression
If you begin to feel down around the same time each year, you might have Seasonal Affective Disorder , also known as seasonal depression. You might feel sluggish and have lower energy levels than normal. Maybe you are struggling to sleep or sleeping too much. You might feel apathetic about activities that normally energize you. You could even feel utterly hopeless. If you are so down that you cant function or you are having suicidal thoughts, get help right away. The phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. If you just need a little nudge toward the light, consider the following lifestyle changes that can be effective at fighting off seasonal depression.
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Remember Who Matters Most
One reason you should never let depression and anxiety win is remembering who is most important to you, such as friends, family members, your spouse, and your children.
Think about it, what would their lives be like if you let depression and anxiety win?
It would not be for the better, thats for sure.
Remembering that you have others who love and support you can be very reassuring when fighting depression and anxiety. If you need a reminder, keep photos of family members and friends easily accessible.
Tip : Eat A Healthy Depression
What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel. Reduce your intake of foods that can adversely affect your brain and mood, such as caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones .
Dont skip meals. Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired, so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours.
Minimize sugar and refined carbs. You may crave sugary snacks, baked goods, or comfort foods such as pasta or French fries, but these feel-good foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Aim to cut out as much of these foods as possible.
Boost your B vitamins. Deficiencies in B vitamins such as folic acid and B-12 can trigger depression. To get more, take a B-complex vitamin supplement or eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.
Boost your mood with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.Omega-3 fatty acids play an essential role in stabilizing mood. The best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, tuna, and some cold-water fish oil supplements.
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What Are Bullet Journals
The bullet journal, created by Ryder Carroll, a New Yorkbased digital product designer, is a notebook-based organizational system that you can use to track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.
Unlike a planner with its preprinted pages, bullet journaling involves taking a blank notebook and creating your own, ever-evolving system with which to keep all aspects of your life organized under one roof work, side hustles, health, the works.
Once set up, the process of maintaining your bullet journal is an adaptable practice meant to be self-curated as you determine what works best for you, according to the official website.
Do The Things You Enjoy
Another reason to keep fighting depression and anxiety is that it will help you continue to do the things you enjoy. If you are struggling with these emotional/mental issues, you may have already stopped doing the activities you love. Yet, you have to try to remember that pursuing your interests can be a step towards recovery as well.
That includes simple pleasures and activities such as:
- Reading for pleasure
- Creating art
- Honing your craft
When you do the things you love to do, they help you to feel connected and engaged. This allows you to get out of the funk of depression and anxiety and allows you to enjoy life.
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Coping With Depression Tip : Reach Out And Stay Connected
Getting support plays an essential role in overcoming depression. On your own, it can be difficult to maintain a healthy perspective and sustain the effort required to beat depression. At the same time, the very nature of depression makes it difficult to reach out for help. When youre depressed, the tendency is to withdraw and isolate so that connecting to even close family members and friends can be tough.
You may feel too exhausted to talk, ashamed at your situation, or guilty for neglecting certain relationships. But this is just the depression talking. Staying connected to other people and taking part in social activities will make a world of difference in your mood and outlook. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it wont mean youre a burden to others. Your loved ones care about you and want to help. And if you dont feel that you have anyone to turn to, its never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.
Need to talk to someone?
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Listen To Your Favorite Tunes
When you are feeling run down and unhappy, try listening to your favorite music. Research confirms that music has a way of uplifting us and bringing on positive emotions and memories.
Similarly, playing music is also uplifting, especially if you do it with other people who share the same joy. The social aspect of the activity provides you with some of the social support you need.
A study published in Frontiers in Psychology concluded that listening to music can help to ease depression and increase positive mood. It can also help you to be more receptive to positivity from others.
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How Can I Help A Loved One Who Is Depressed
If someone you know has depression, help them see a health care provider or mental health professional. You also can:
- Offer support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
- Invite them out for walks, outings, and other activities.
- Help them stick to their treatment plan, such as setting reminders to take prescribed medications.
- Make sure they have transportation to therapy appointments.
- Remind them that, with time and treatment, the depression will lift.
Take comments about suicide seriously, and report them to your loved ones health care provider or therapist. If they are in immediate distress or thinking about hurting themselves, call 911 for emergency services or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Taking Control Of Your Life Is One Of The Most Effective Ways To Fight Depression
I’ve battled depression and anxiety ever since my first period. As a teen and young adult, it went unrecognized and untreated, leading me to believe I was just a loserlazy, unmotivated, and socially awkward. My self-esteem plummeted. When I finally got diagnosed as an adult and put on anti-depressants , I thought these miracle cures would end my anguish and let me finally experience some relief and happiness.
After seven years on the drugswalking through life like a zombieI was ready to wean myself off of them and take a healthier, more proactive approach to fighting my depression. After reading Dr. Brene Brown’s life-changing book, Rising Strong, I realized that I had been doing everything wrong by denying my emotions rather than embracing them. From a young age, I had thought my feelings were what was wrong with me and, if they were muted, my life would be better. Dr. Brown helped me finally understand that my emotions are an asset, not a handicap.
For seven long years, anti-depressants had helped me no longer feel sad, but they had also robbed me of joy, excitement, and hope. As Dr. Brown so perfectly states, “you cannot selectively numb emotions.” I was ready to do the hard work to discover what caused my despair and learn how to conquer it. What I found out is something that no doctor or therapist had ever mentioned.
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People With Social Anxiety Don’t Want To Be Alone
Chances are likely, depending on the severity of your symptoms, that you may benefit from being on medication. If youre thinking, Nope, absolutely notI dont want to rely on anything, then Ill challenge you with this: Is your quality of life getting better each day, or you struggling to make it through the day? Is your own contempt about medication, prior to investigation, really worth it? Have you done your research on anti-anxiety and depression medications, such as SSRIs, to the point where you know enough about them, or are you making a blanket statement that you refuse to take medications?
Ask yourself these difficult questions. For me, it was incredibly helpful to be working with a therapist who I trusted and with whom I developed a strong rapport with before making these decisions with her help and guidance.
We dont overcome depression we dont prevail over anxiety. We accept that we have them, and we treat them effectively. We cant think our way out of a clinical or chemical issue. We cant self will our way into happiness, groundedness, and wholeness.
There is so much freedom in surrendering to the stark truth that we cant do this on our own.
This post became way more clinical than I had intended it to be, but I found that after posting a poll on Instagram about what topics people want to read about, overcoming depression and anxiety beat out the other topics by a landslide.
This is a real issue. You are not alone.
Receive Instruction From His Mouth And Put His Words In Your Heart
If you return to the Almighty you will be made well, if you remove iniquity from your tent.
Cast the gold in the dust, The gold of Ophir among the stones of the streams And the Almighty will be your gold, your silver, your wealth .
Your peace and happiness must absolutely depend on God Alone. Why?Because making your peace depend on your circumstances and/or the people around you is real suicide.
Vanity of vanities, says Ecclesiastes, vanity of vanities, all is vanity.
Psalm 62, 9
Yes, vanity, sons of man! Lie, sons of man! In a balance, they would rise All together, lighter than a breath .
Jeremiah 17, 5
This is what the Lord says: Cursed be the man who relies on men and makes human means the source of his strength, but who turns his heart away from the Lord. He is like a bush in the desert, and he will not see happiness coming. His home will be an arid desert, a salty land where no one lives .
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Stay Connected To Friends And Family
Depression likes to isolate people, but that is exactly the opposite of what you need. Connection with others promotes emotional well-being and a sense of security. Instead of turning inward when you experience seasonal depression, reach outward. Find more ways to spend time with people. Set up lunch dates. Join a club or team. Host a game night. Find a walking buddy. Visit family. You may not initially feel like being around other people, but once you put yourself out there and start interacting, you will feel an immediate uplift.
How Is Depression Diagnosed
To be diagnosed with depression, an individual must have five depression symptoms every day, nearly all day, for at least 2 weeks. One of the symptoms must be a depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Children and adolescents may be irritable rather than sad.
If you think you may have depression, talk to your health care provider. Primary care providers routinely diagnose and treat depression and refer individuals to mental health professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists.
During the visit, your provider may ask when your symptoms began, how long they last, how often they occur, and if they keep you from going out or doing your usual activities. It may help to make some notes about your symptoms before your visit. Certain medications and some medical conditions, such as viruses or a thyroid disorder, can cause the same depression symptoms. Your provider can rule out these possibilities by doing a physical exam, interview, and lab tests.
Read NIMHs Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider to help prepare for and get the most out of your visit. For additional resources, visit the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality website.
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