Top 10 Tips to Heal Depression
I have received a number of requests for some tips on dealing with depression. Below are things that you can do to help yourself and those you love, but remember that depression is a serious condition, if it persists for more than two weeks seeking psychological and medical treatment is mandatory.
1. Exercise. Just taking a short walk is helpful and a good hike is better. Exercise creates endorphins, which stimulate happiness. It's also good for your general health.
2. Cry. Letting the pain out will help you heal; holding it in will cause you to behave in ways that can be destructive to yourself and your relationships. So, let the tears flow. Some people are afraid to start crying because the hurt feels so deep they think they may never stop. In most cases this natural release doesn't last more than a couple of weeks.
3. Write. Daily journaling is a positive and creative way to release painful feelings. Many great books, songs and poems have come from the depths of depression. Begin by just writing about how you feel at the moment and see where it goes from there.
4. Light. Using a full spectrum lamp for 15 minutes a day can heal SAD (Seasonal Effectiveness Disorder), a type of depression that occurs when we don't get enough sunlight. Even in the summer, fog and dampness can darken your mood. The cold and short days of winter can be especially depressing for those with SAD.
5. Air. Keep windows open, the fresh air is uplifting and makes the brain and heart function better. Fresh air is also better for the immune system than air conditioning.
6. Diet. A balanced diet will help control your brain chemistry and make it easier for you to choose behaviors that will help you pull yourself out of the doldrums.
7. Vitamins. A recent article in "Psychology Today" reported that, "Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) may be as effective as drugs in alleviating depression." Physicians have long recognized that people who take their vitamins usually feel better.
8. Therapy. Talking about your pain to someone who can help you reframe and heal is a tried and true method for curing depression. Make sure that the therapist you choose has been trained in depression treatments and, if you take medication, works with your M.D.
9. Work. Being successful in one area of your life often leads to feeling successful in other areas. Don’t sit around and mope, go to work or get more involved in your children's lives, and do the best job possible. The pay off will be much larger than a check.
10. Trust. For most people depression is a temporary situation. Although when you are deep within it, it's hard to see your way out, know that it will end. It can be helpful to note that there may be a life lesson to be learned in the process and that coming through a difficult emotional time can make you a much better person and partner.
I have successfully used all of these tips in my practice. Start with one or two and see how it goes. People with depression need to be reminded that they do have some control here, and not taking it is a choice to remain in the darkness. Be proactive, healing this difficult disorder may not be easy, but it can be as simple as turning on a light switch.
By Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT, CADC