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How to survive depression by changing the way you think
This page can quickly help you learn how to survive depression better. The unfortunate reality is that many of us get depressed. If you are depressed, you will likely become depressed again. There are all kinds of reasons why we get depressed, from genetics to life stressors and everything in between. Doctors will tell you to exercise, take medicine, or reduce your stress to help with depression. All these things are important, however, there are some key ideas and concepts about the way you think about your depression that can lead more quickly to recovery.
How to survive depression Tip 1
Accept and fully admit you have depression. The first step to surviving depression is to admit you have it. If you feel sad, are not motivated, feel unhappy and a physical tiredness, it is possible that you have depression. If you have had it before, you know when you have it! Accepting reality is often the first step to moving through it. You’d be surprised how many people will not admit what they are experiencing when they are experiencing it. Accepting what is happening can help you mobilize the resources to get through it.
How to survive depression Tip #2
Understand that depression is not a sign of weakness. There are many reasons why we get depressed, but being weak is not one of them. The idea that you should not be depressed, or that there is something wrong with you because you are, is going to create more unnecessary suffering. Is this belief going to help you get better? NO! Challenge your beliefs, don't fight your feelings.
I often have people in my office who will say “ I shouldn’t be depressed, or I have no reason to be depressed.” They feel guilty and bad because they are depressed and have depressed thoughts. Is this helpful? No. It’s important not to just admit and accept that you have depression, but stop beating yourself up about it. Stop judging yourself. This will not help you to get better.
How to survive depression Tip #3
Almost all depression is temporary; most depression will remit on its own, although therapy and medication can help tremendously. Learning to tolerate depression while keeping in mind that it’s likely to pass can be a helpful strategy. Many of my clients will arrive and say “ I can’t stand being depressed! I can’t get things done, I can’t sleep, I can’t eat.”
Learn to be gentle with yourself and your depression. Insisting that things be different and imagining that you cannot handle it will not help. This isn’t permanent. The mind may trick us into thinking that somehow struggling with this will force us to feel better. It won’t. Telling yourself it is unbearable does not cure depression. Learning how to tolerate it will be more helpful.
How to survive depression Tip #4
Don’t take the advice of people who tell you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. These people don’t understand that if you could do that, you would. Depression is not a result of being lazy. It’s not a result of being unfocused or undetermined.
How to survive depression tip #5
Work though it.
Set small goals for yourself. Focus on what you can do and push yourself a little further. Don’t expect yourself to do an incredible number of tasks all at once. Don’t overload yourself. Never give up and give in to the urge to do nothing entirely.
Understand that you are depressed. If you were physically ill would you force yourself to do things that you were too sick to do? Be realistic about what you can accomplish and push yourself to do small tasks you can reward yourself for. If you can’t make dinner every night, ask for help, but push yourself to do it twice a week. If you don’t want to get out of bed at all, get out of bed and do one task. Walk around the block once if you can’t walk five miles! These small steps will lead to a greater sense of the ability that you can come out of this. Each small step can grow into a larger step.
Challenge your thoughts that make you feel depressed. Don’t argue with them, but question the validity of them. You do not have to believe them. When you are depressed you see the world through a negative lens. Work on paying attention to and challenging your thoughts. Pick a time of day when you can find the energy to do this task. Write down the thoughts you have that lead to feelings of unhappiness. Any time you use words like always or never there is an opportunity to challenge yourself.
Are you really always making mistakes? No. Are you really the worst person in the world? No. Recognizing these thoughts as a symptom of your depression, and reminding yourself that these are not true can be a helpful exercise.
Surround yourself with people that support and help you feel safe and worthwhile. Loved ones who are understanding and supportive can help tremendously. You can ask them to help out with the tasks that are overwhelming, you can talk about your feelings with them, and you can seek encouragement from them.
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This page is about how self-compassion and mindfulness and skills such as forgiveness, kindness and compassion can help us with depression and anxiety.