Truly it does not matter what diagnosis you have been given, if it includes surviving depression these are some coping strategies I have learned over the years. These are a culmination of things I have learned while being treated by a wide variety of health care providers, as well as things I have just learned along the way.
- Learning to understand and accept your condition is a great first step in surviving depression. Share your feelings and asking those close to you about their feelings can help create a supportive environment. Recognize that not everyone is going to understand you and not everyone needs to do so. Allow this to be okay.
- Setting goals in areas you want to make change. I like to chunk my goals, breaking them down into smaller and more manageable steps. Choose the easiest from the list first. You might ask, why? This will help you create a positive experience. Work toward more difficult tasks requiring you to step out of your comfort zone. Assess your progress often to insure your goals are achieving your desired results. Renegotiate any goals not attained. These are not a failure, it just means your plan needs adjusted. Keep things as simple as possible. Always celebrate every win, no matter how small. This will help you build confidence and self-esteem.
- If you have sought medical care and have a treatment plan, stick to it! If you are having difficulty managing side effects, talk to your doctor. Medication sometimes needs to be adjusted. If you are on medication, it has been determined this may help your condition and the benefits will likely outweigh the side effects. Stick to the plan or discuss change with your doctor first.
- How can I address the stigma attached to any mental health diagnosis? Stigma often is due to a lack of understanding or even a misconception of a given diagnosis. You can help others by explaining what it is like to live with your condition. Often with understanding comes acceptance. Give people time to adjust can make surviving just that much easier.
- Sharing with your loved ones can be difficult but what you experience is felt in different ways by each person that is close to you. If you will take the time to share what and how you feel, others may be able to better support your needs. Help them identify what helps as well as those things that actually trigger adverse reactions in your behavior. Tips to get you started off on the right foot.
- Value their time and yours by making an appointment or scheduling time to talk with a minimum amount of time established by you before hand.
- Tell them how much you value and trust them and how very important to you they are.
- Explain that you want them to know what it’s like to live with (specific diagnosis) so they can better understand.
- Share your experience and focus on what helps you feel more secure or safe.
- Invite them to an ongoing conversation to be continued at a future date.
- Always talk to your health care provider for more tips or help in discussing this with loved ones.
- Most family members and true friends will want to help you cope. They need your help to identify how to support you best for your need. Think on this yourself; so, you have ideas of examples to share (i.e., to remind you of your appointments or perhaps to schedule appointments, someone to grocery shop with you, or just spend time with you; especially, to get you out of your everyday environment, someone to exercise or just walk with you) just a few ideas.
- Learn what your triggers are. For example certain holidays, events, or situations can lead to your depressive episode. These can change your mood in an instant. Sometimes big events trigger episodes and sometimes something smaller, like the choice of words someone uses when speaking with you. You won’t be able to avoid all of the potential triggers but it will help you tremendously to recognize the challenges and approach them with possible solutions already thought out.
- Mindfulness is the practice of a non-judgmental state of awareness of your thoughts, emotions, and/or experiences continuously and intentionally. You can practice mindfulness while experiencing activities such as yoga, prayer or meditation which may also help you relieve stress. Methods of practicing mindfulness might include:
- Maintaining continuous awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and the connection between your mind and body noting the environment around you.
- Non-judgmental acceptance of the situation, thoughts, and feelings.
- Thank the negative self-talk for sharing. Then focus on the outcome you want to achieve. Give no attention to the negativity. Each time any negative thought comes, thank it for sharing and move forward to positive thoughts.
- Seek further professional help at any point you need more help, more clarification or you want to learn more specific methods for practicing mindfulness.
- Physical activity is truly a key piece in surviving depression. Exercise can improve your overall health as proven in studies. Improves sleep, relieves stress, decreases fatigue, and helps maintain a healthy weight. Chemicals released while exercising include serotonin, one directly related to mood stabilization. It is always recommended that one seek advice from one’s health care provider before beginning any exercise program or routine.
- Positive mindset can be achieved in spite of the fact we all think negatively on occasion. Your mindset can absolutely become a habit whether positive or negative. More negativity will assuredly add to depression. A care provider may use a talk therapy technique called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) which focuses on the relationship between your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Look at your patterns, write them down and look for evidence to support these thoughts. Help you identify negative thinking patterns so you can move toward a much more positive mindset.
- Journaling can help you identify patterns you may not yet recognize yourself. Also, it is a great way to express what is going on inside without affecting anyone else with words that might be hurtful.
- Listening to music can often help you reset your mood. Pick the music that makes you feel on top of the world and crank up the sound. I love music that makes me want to dance even if I just do chair dancing. I always feel better after that type of music and is indeed helps in surviving depression.
- Develop hobbies, especially of the type where you get together with others. (Quilting, knitting, crocheting, ceramics, playing cards like bridge or spades that requires more people, clubs, sports, the arts) just to name a few ideas.
- If you have hit rock bottom and are facing the thoughts of ending it all, by all means seek help! Call a crisis line, call a friend or call for an ambulance to transport you to a local hospital, but I urge you to reach out for help. People are listening and want to help you get past this suffering place in your life.
PLEASE FIND BELOW A COUPLE OF RESOURCES FOR YOUR USE, SHOULD YOU NEED IMMEDIATE SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP
Lifeline Crisis Chat – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Veterans Crisis Line
1-800-273-8255 Press 1