Ways Of Coping With A Depressive Episode
Employment issues can lead to anxiety, stress and even depression. Depression is dehabilitating and may lead to serious health issues if not managed properly. This article will address what a depressive episode is and how to deal with it.
A depressive episode in the context of a major depressive disorder is a period characterized by low mood and other depression symptoms that lasts for 2 weeks or more. When experiencing a depressive episode, a person can try to make changes to their thoughts and behaviors to help improve their mood. Symptoms of a depressive episode can persist for several weeks or months at a time. Less commonly, depressive episodes last for over a year.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 16.1 million adults in the United States experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2015.
Symptoms Of A Depressive Episode May Include:
Feeling sad, hopeless, or helpless Feeling guilty or worthless Anxiety, irritability or frustration Fatigue or low energy Restlessness, trouble concentrating or remembering Changes in appetite or weight Loss of interest in things once enjoyed, including Hobbies and socializing Changes in sleep patterns Moving or talking more slowly than usual Loss of interest in living, thoughts of death or suicide, or attempting suicide Aches or pains without obvious physical cause
Twelve Tips For Dealing With A Depressive Episode
Tackling depression as soon as symptoms develop can help people recover more quickly. Even those who have experienced depression for a long time might find that making changes to the way they think and behave improves their mood. The following tips may help people deal with a depressive episode:
1.) Track Triggers And Symptoms Keeping track of moods and symptoms might help a person understand what triggers a depressive episode. Spotting the signs of depression early on may help them avoid a full-blown depressive episode. Use a diary to log important events, changes to daily routines, and moods. Rate moods on a scale of 1 to 10 to help identify which events or activities cause specific responses. See a doctor if symptoms persist for 14 days or more.
2.) Stay Calm Identifying the onset of a depressive episode can be scary. Feeling panicked or anxious is an understandable reaction to the initial symptoms of depression. However, these reactions may contribute to low mood and worsen other symptoms, such as loss of appetite and disrupted sleep. Instead, focus on staying calm. Remember that depression is treatable and the feelings will not last forever.
Anyone who has experienced depressive episodes before should remind themselves that they can overcome these feelings again. They should focus on their strengths and on what they have learned from previous depressive episodes. Self-help techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises can help a person learn to look at problems in a different way and promote a sense of calmness. Self-help books and phone and online counseling courses are available.
3.) Understand And Accept Depression Depression is a widespread and genuine mental health disorder. It is not a sign of weakness or a personal shortcoming. Accepting that a depressive episode may occur from time to time might help people deal with it when it does. Remember, it is possible to manage symptoms with treatments, such as lifestyle changes, medication, and therapy.
4.) Separate Yourself From The Depression A condition does not define a person; they are not their illness. When depression symptoms begin, some people find it helpful to repeat: "I am not depression, I just have depression." A person should remind themselves of all the other aspects of themselves. They may also be a parent, sibling, friend, spouse, neighbor, and colleague. Each person has their own strengths, abilities, and positive qualities that make them who they are.
5.) Recognize The Importance Of Self-Care Self-care activities are any actions that help people look after their wellbeing. Self-care means taking time to relax, recharge, and connect with the self and others. It also means saying no to others when overwhelmed and taking space to calm and soothe oneself. Basic self-care activities include eating a healthful diet, engaging in creative activities, and taking a soothing bath. But any action that enhances mental, emotional, and physical health can be considered a self-care activity.
6.) Breathe Deeply And Relax The Muscles Deep breathing techniques are an effective way to calm anxiety and soothe the body's stress response. Slowly inhaling and exhaling has physical and psychological benefits, especially when done on a daily basis. Anyone can practice deep breathing, whether in the car, at work, or in the grocery store. Plenty of smartphone apps offer guided deep breathing activities, and many are free to download.
Progressive muscle relaxation is another helpful tool for those experiencing depression and anxiety. It involves tensing and relaxing the muscles in the body to reduce stress. Again, many smartphone apps offer guided progressive muscle relaxation exercises.
7.) Challenge Negative Thoughts Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective therapy for those with depression and other mood disorders. CBT proposes that a person's thoughts, rather than their life situations, affect their mood. CBT involves changing negative thoughts into more balanced ones to alter feelings and behaviors. A qualified therapist can offer CBT sessions, but it is also possible to challenge negative thoughts without seeing a therapist.
Firstly, notice how often negative thoughts arise and what these thoughts say. These may include "I am not good enough," or "I am a failure." Then, challenge those thoughts and replace them with more positive statements, such as "I did my best" and "I am enough.
8.) Practice Mindfulness Take some time every day to be mindful and appreciate the present moment. This may mean noticing the warmth of sunlight on the skin when walking to work, or the taste and texture of a crisp, sweet apple at lunchtime. Mindfulness allows people to fully experience the moment they are in, not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Research suggests that regular periods of mindfulness can reduce symptoms of depression and improve the negative responses that some people with chronic or recurrent depression have to low mood.
9.) Make A Bedtime Routine Sleep can have a huge impact on mood and mental health. A lack of sleep can contribute to symptoms of depression, and depression can interfere with sleep. To combat these effects, try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Establish a nightly routine. Start winding down from 8 pm. Sip chamomile tea, read a book, or take a warm bath. Avoid screen time and caffeine. It may also be helpful to write in a journal before bed, especially for those whose racing thoughts keep them up.
10.) Exercise Exercise is extremely beneficial for people with depression. It releases chemicals called endorphins that improve mood. An analysis of 25 studies on exercise and depression reports that exercise has a "large and significant effect" on symptoms of depression.
11.) Avoid Alcohol Alcohol is a depressant, and alcohol use can trigger episodes of depression or make existing episodes worse. Alcohol can also interact with some medications for depression and anxiety.
12.) Record The Positives Often, depressive episodes can leave people focusing on the negatives and discounting the positives. To counteract this, keep a positivity journal or gratitude journal. This type of journal helps to build self-esteem. Before bed, write down three good things from the day. Positives include regular meditation, going for a walk, eating a healthful meal, and so much more.
Asking For Help
Dealing with depression can be daunting, but no one has to do it alone. One of the most important steps in dealing with a depressive episode is seeking help from:
Family And Friends. People experiencing depression should consider telling family and friends how they are feeling, and asking for support where they need it.
A Doctor. It is essential to speak to a doctor who can make a diagnosis and recommend treatments. Research suggests that tailoring early treatment to the individual offers the best possible outcomes.
A Therapist. Talking to a counselor or psychotherapist can be beneficial. Talk therapy can help address low moods and negative thoughts. A therapist can also teach coping skills to help people deal with future depressive episodes.
Support Groups. Look for a local support group for people with depression. It can be beneficial to talk to others who are experiencing the same thing.
Support Lines And Crisis Hotlines. Another way that people with depression can reach out to others. Save important numbers to a cell phone, so they are easily accessible in times of need.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline : (1800-273-TALK)
Crisis Text Line : Text HOME to 741741
It is important to note that not every depressive episode will have an obvious or identifiable trigger.
My father who is a Physician, was instrumental in making this article possible. My gratitude to Richard L. Coppedge, M.D., M.P.H.
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