Because every person is different, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for depression. You’re not going to get out of depression simply by reading this post. However, these universal concepts may be helpful on your journey.
In addressing depression, it’s helpful to separate life into different categories – let’s view ourselves as biological, psychological, social, and spiritual beings, and then consider what can be done in each category.
Biological – It’s been said before, but can’t really be overstated: There is a mind-body connection. Our bodies inform our brains, and vice versa. A stagnate lifestyle and poor diet send a message to our brains that we are unhealthy, which perpetuates a depressed mood. Our brains also don’t work as well without the circulation and nutrients needed. “Diet and exercise…” “An apple a day…” ok, you’re right, this isn’t groundbreaking stuff, but nonetheless, incredibly important!
I know, people with depression aren’t motivated enough to diet or exercise, right? Not completely true. Find the step you’re capable of taking in the present moment. If the best you can do is walk around the block once a day, do that. It’s significantly better for your body than remaining immobile.
Psychological – Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are inextricably linked. Commonly, therapists will ask their clients to evaluate the statements they are making, particularly of themselves. This is because people struggling with depression often hold untrue beliefs such as, “I am worthless,” or “I deserve to be unhappy.” If you’re not sitting with a therapist or friend, you can still write down your thoughts and evaluate them. Ask yourself, “If anyone else wrote this, would I agree with them?” If not, it probably isn’t true of you, either.
Those were thoughts I was just referencing, but what about feelings? These are emotions, like sad, mad, glad, scared, or disgusted. Depression can make us disconnected from our feelings, caught in a state of blue apathy; or depression can bog us down in our feelings, making us too overwhelmed to recognize the thoughts that are causing them. In either case, identifying emotions and tracing them back to thoughts becomes a vital part of healing.
Social – Depression often leads to isolation. Sometimes that’s literal isolation, and sometimes it means being surrounded by people without disclosing an inner struggle. The main point here is to connect in healthy relationships as much as possible in the midst of depression.
What’s your next step in engaging with others? Everyone’s situation is different. As you read this, who comes to mind? Who do you need to reach out to in order to move forward in your journey?
Spiritual – How does one’s relationship with God influence thoughts and feelings? Shame and guilt are commonly very pronounced during depression, and are often a primary cause. Are you receiving the forgiveness that God offers, or do you continue to feel unworthy? Honesty with God is so important. Allowing him into the painful areas of our lives can be very difficult, and at the same time, freeing.
Taking action is so vital to moving through depression, and oftentimes, depression makes it hard to take action. Counseling is a tangible step in the right direction, and allows someone else to support and provide accountability. Even the act of reaching out to a counselor provides an initial lift for many clients, and can help with consistency in focusing on the areas of life described above. It isn’t easy, but there is a way forward.