Depression: Non-pill Methods

What Can We Do?

most of the methods discussed here, you’ve probably heard countless times. There isn’t likely to be anything ground-breaking here. I’ll start what I feel is the most common given advice.

Deep Breathing

I’ve left out the psycho-babble so here are the conclusions of the study: ” . . . increased comfort, relaxation, pleasantness, vigor and alertness, and reduced symptoms of arousal, anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion.”

If you’re interested in reading more:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6137615/

Perhaps it’s more useful for mild depression, but I’m sure it brings benefits to anyone. What to do if you’re depressed? First, focus on your breathing!

Exercise

I feel I should point out, when I was in the throes of depression as a teenager, these methods were laughable to me. I knew breathing wasn’t going to stop making me want to kill myself, and I couldn’t possibly bring myself to exercise. But we all have different levels of depression and remaining energy and motivation while depressed. Some have mild depression and some have more severe depression. Both are awful. It’s not a contest! If you find you can force yourself to exercise, it can have tremendous benefits. I could cite a study, but I feel like this is something we can simply agree on. What to do if you’re depressed? If it’s possible, exercise! You may even feel something!

Force Yourself to Do Something You Normally Enjoy

You don’t even have to enjoy it. Just do it anyway. It may bring some benefits. It may not. It will very unlikely make things worse. But the chances are, you’ll enjoy it at least a little bit, and it might give you the energy and motivation to do something else afterwards, creating a snowball effect. 

Talk to a Friend or Professional

Talking about your problems with a friend is proven to be beneficial, but even if you don’t want to talk about what’s going on with you, just chatting can be a great help. If you don’t have a friend you can talk to when you need it most, just text “Home” to 714714, and you’ll be connected, through texting, to a 24/7 crisis counseling line, which you can utilize as often as you need. I’m a crisis counselor for this program and can vouch for its excellence as a program. 

#whattodoifyouredepressed #milddepression #depressedmood

Behavioral Activation

Depression saps a person’s energy to do just about anything—even activities they enjoy. As a result, people with depression tend to become less active, which causes the depression to worsen. However, even a little bit of activity can help stop this cycle.

  1. Choose activities you are likely to complete.
exercisewalk, go for a bike ride, weightlift, follow an exercise video, swim, practice yoga
socializecall or text a friend, organize a group dinner, visit family, join a club / group
responsibilitiescleaning / housework, pay bills, professional development, homework
hobbiessports, gardening, drawing, playing music, hiking, playing with a pet, cooking
personal caredress up, get a haircut, prepare a healthy meal, tend to spiritual needs
  1. Practice your chosen activities. Use the following tips to improve consistency.
start smallIf needed, break activities into smaller pieces. Some activity is better than none.
make a planSet an alarm as a reminder, or tie an activity to something you already do. For example, practice a hobby immediately after dinner every day.
bring a friendIncluding a friend will increase your commitment and make things more fun.

Social Support

Social isolation is a common symptom of depression. Related issues—such as fatigue, lowered self-esteem, and anxiety—exacerbate this problem. Resisting social isolation, and instead leaning on social support, can improve resilience to stress and depression. As you can see, a lot of the time, you do the opposite of what you want.

Lean on your existing relationships. Make it a priority to socialize with friends or family every day. If this is proving difficult, or if no one is nearby, plan times to interact remotely. Try cooking together on a video call, playing a game together, or sharing a coffee over the phone. Maybe you’re doing the opposite of what you want.

Say “yes” to socializing. Depression makes it tempting to stay home, isolated from friends and family. Make a habit of saying “yes” to social opportunities, even when you’re tempted to stay in. You do the opposite of what you want.

Join a support group. Support groups let you connect with others who are dealing with issues similar to yours. You’ll benefit from sharing and receiving advice and support.

Three Good Things

Negative thinking is a defining feature of depression. Positive experiences are minimized, while negative experiences are magnified. Gratitude helps combat this tendency by shifting focus toward positive experiences, rather than negative ones.

1

Write about three positive experiences from your day. These experiences can be small (“The weather was perfect when I walked to work”) or big (“I got a promotion at work”).

Choose one of the following questions to answer about each of the three good things:

2
  • Why did this happen?
  • Why was this good thing meaningful?
3
  • How can I experience more of this good thing?

Repeat this exercise every day for 1 week.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment. It means taking a step back and noticing the world, and one’s thoughts and feelings, without judgment. The goal of mindfulness is to simply observe. Mindfulness helps reduce the worry and rumination that often accompanies depression.

One way to practice mindfulness is through meditation. During mindfulness meditation, you will simply sit and focus your attention on the sensation of breathing. By focusing on your breathing, you will put yourself in the here-and-now.

Time and Place

Find a quiet, comfortable place where you can practice mindfulness for 15 to 30 minutes every day. Frequent and consistent practice leads to the best results, but some practice is better than none.

Posture

Sit in a chair or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes or let your gaze soften. Let your head, shoulders, arms, and legs relax. Adjust your posture whenever you feel uncomfortable.

Awareness of Breath

Focus on your breathing. Notice the sensation of the air as it travels in through your nose and out through your mouth. Notice the gentle rise and fall of your belly.

Wandering Mind

During meditation, it’s normal for the mind to wander. When this happens, gently turn your attention back to your breathing. You may need to do this frequently throughout your practice. Focus on your breathing. Tell yourself that again and again. Focus on your breathing.

#whattodoifyouredepressed #focusonyourbreathing #youdotheoppositeofwhatyouwant

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