If you're struggling with depression, you're not alone. Research shows that approximately 7.1% of the U.S population has major depression, and it's one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.
More than just feeling sad, depression is a serious health condition that can affect all areas of your emotional well-being. In some cases, unresolved depression may lead to devastating consequences, such as suicide.
If you're struggling with severe depression, treatment can help you manage your symptoms and learn how to live a meaningful and productive life. Let's get into the five things you need to know right now.
Your Feelings Are Valid
If you're feeling depressed, you might disregard how you feel and tell yourself that you're overreacting. You may feel guilty or ashamed for your emotions, and you might even deny them altogether.
But feelings aren't necessarily rooted in logic. Instead, they are natural responses to stimuli. The more you try to suppress them, the stronger they often become.
Try to remind yourself that your feelings are real and that they matter. Of course, there is a significant difference between acknowledging your feelings and acting on them. But simply acknowledging that you feel a certain way allows you to validate yourself and your current situation.
How can you improve your ability to identify your emotions? First, consider how emotions present themselves in your body. Many times, when we feel depressed, our bodies feel heavy or somewhat sluggish. In contrast, when we feel anxious, we often feel a sense of tightness and heat.
You can also print out a feelings wheel and keep it stored in a convenient location. The next time you start feeling "off," look at the wheel and think about which feelings you are experiencing. Over time, you will notice more trends, and you will also become more adept at recognizing triggering emotions.
Self-Care Isn't Selfish
Depression festers in low self-esteem and apathy. When you don't take care of yourself, it's easy to feel sad, agitated, or hopeless.
Fortunately, the opposite can be true. By choosing to honor your needs, you inherently tell yourself that you are worth experiencing good things.
Self-care isn't self-righteous, selfish, or even luxurious. It would be best if you considered it a necessary part of your survival and well-being. By taking care of yourself, you restore your emotional and physical needs. You make yourself more available to cope with whatever life has to offer.
To implement more self-care in your life, try:
meditating more often
reaching out to positive support
engaging in your favorite hobbies
following a healthy routine
practicing positive affirmations to yourself
Remember to prioritize self-care like you would prioritize any appointment. If you make it optional, you probably won't get around to doing it! Remind yourself that the more you commit to this practice, the happier and healthier you will feel.
This Moment Won't Last Forever
In the thick of a depressive episode, things might start feeling catastrophic and never-ending. Your depression may tell you that life won't ever get better. Part of you may believe this harrowing message.
But it would help if you reminded yourself that life ebbs and flows. All feelings pass. Hard times change. New things enter your life. Moments move.
This isn't to negate how you feel. Instead, it's about keeping the big picture in mind. The more you can remind yourself that life can get better, the more optimistic you will start to feel about healing.
You Can Change How You Think
What messages do you tell yourself about your depression or current state of being? Do you tell yourself things will never get better? That you're a total failure? That nobody loves you?
If these thoughts circulate through your mind all day, it's no surprise you feel depressed! Our thoughts can directly impact our feelings and behaviors, reinforcing a feedback loop maintaining the depression.
Instead, try to focus on shifting your negative thoughts into more realistic ones. For example, instead of telling yourself things will never get better, can you find a few events that you look forward to experiencing? Instead of believing that you're a total failure, can you think about the times you succeeded? If you assume nobody loves you, are you willing to locate any evidence that may challenge that thought?
You're Allowed To Ask For Help If You're Struggling With Depression
You don't have to confront your symptoms alone. You also don't have to learn how to recover and heal by yourself.
Mental illness can live in isolation. But the more you surround yourself with positive support and a loving community, the more of a chance you give yourself to heal.
At The Mental Health House, we provide dynamic resources and care options for people struggling with depression and other mental health conditions. We are here for you and your loved ones. Contact us today to learn more.