Establishing the cause of depression is vital, but more vital is the need to recover, to do something about feeling low. What can be done to actually ease a bout of depression?
1. The perfect antidote to depression is action. It’s like getting someone with a broken leg to walk, you have to make her do it.
The most useful thing to do is to take some action that’s directly related to whatever or whoever is making you feel so terrible in the first place.
Since some women’s depressions are related to the loss of a man’s love and there’s no way to make someone love you, the next best thing to do is to get involved with something else.
One woman thinks she’s found an answer to her mild bouts of depression: “I find that when I can motivate myself to get up very early in the morning and go ice skating, I feel happy for the rest of the day.
“There’s something about the fresh air and exercise that changes my attitude and makes me feel better. It works every time I get down.”
Any affirmative action, a tennis game, a lunch date with a friend, a shopping spree, will help. If you can force yourself into action, particularly into some sort of physical activity, you might succeed in abating the feelings of futility that drove you to depression in the first place.
2. Group activity is another way to handle depression. Go back to school. Get a job. Plunk yourself in the middle of a group of like-minded people who may be just as lonely as you.
The astonishing upsurge of mind expansion, alpha-wave training, and other group movements is largely the result of the need to counterbalance the isolation and loneliness of an increasingly alienating culture.
The movement toward groups is a potent force, because of the de-escalating influence of family and the church in this society. It’s the hardest thing in the world not to have anybody.
These groups have taken the place of the absent family. They’re places where people can be together and feel like relating human beings again.
3. Reconstruct the story of your life, and learn to see yourself through your own eyes. Having a poor perception of yourself doesn’t have to be a permanent state of mind.
Take control of your life for just a few moments at a time and the depression will ease. Distract yourself from what is likely to be an obsessive concern with your state of mind and you’ll see what’s happening to you from a different, better perspective.
Learn to be able to recognize anger when you feel it, and try to find a positive, helpful way to express it.
4. Examine your environment. Depression is contagious. While researching this article, I found myself sinking into the symptoms I was discovering in other people.
When everyone around you is glooming through their days and nights chances are they might be enjoying their despair. But you easily can become a victim of that atmosphere if you allow it to affect you.
5. Fight the urge to sink deeper into depression. Make a concentrated effort to get out of the house. It really is much cozier to stay snuggled down in your nest, but that doesn’t provide you with the exposure to people you urgently require to ease your depression.
6. Check with your doctor to make sure there’s no physiological basis for your mood.
7. Stop drinking. If you are in a depressed state, alcohol, which may seem like the great escape, has chemical properties that intensify symptoms.
8. Find a friend with a shoulder to cry on. Just knowing that somebody cares enough to listen to you and discuss your problems at length will help relieve your bleakest feelings.
9. Spoil yourself. The old “new hat” theory of counteracting depressive symptoms really does work, especially since you have to go out to buy it.
10. Plan one thing, every day, that will please you. When you have something to look forward to, even if it’s only a delicious tidbit, your mood will change for the better.
11. Maybe the final thing to remember is that sooner or later depression will get you, if you’re a normal woman, with the requisite number of hormones and love relationships. The question is how much and how long.
Just knowing depression is so common that it almost can be considered normal might help soften its impact and shorten its duration. And remember that even pain can be useful.
So, go out and buy yourself a pair of boots and pull yourself up by their straps.