Surviving Depression

Feeling trapped and alone are components of depression in its severity.

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”

Elizabeth Wurtzel

Feeling trapped and alone are components of depression in its severity. No words of encouragement or suggestions of hope can break the spell. The negative thought cycle continues to spin while time slows down. If you don’t consciously break the negative thought cycle, the depression can turn into something serious. While the steps listed below won’t eliminate your problems, they can help you lift the fog. If you think your depression has taken over, please do not hesitate to contact a mental health professional.

1. Gratitude – take 10 minutes each day to journal about things you are grateful for. NIH researchers examined blood flow in various brain regions while subjects summoned up feelings of gratitude (Zahn et al, 2009). They found that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking, and sleeping. It also has a significant influence on your metabolism and stress levels. From this evidence on brain activity, it becomes clear how improvements in gratitude could have such wide-ranging effects from increased exercise and improved sleep to decreased depression and fewer aches and pains. –Korb, A., Psychology Today, 2013

2. Exercise – whether it is a brisk 20-minute walk or a trip to the gym, exercising produces the feel-good chemical endorphins. If you struggle with a lack of motivation, ask a friend to join or walk a dog to get you moving.

3. Change your routine – whether it’s traveling to a place you’ve never been or adding and subtracting something different in your daily routine, change can kick start new patterns of thinking.

4. Social support – join a therapy group with others who suffer from depression; this can help you feel less isolated. When we are around people who aren’t depressed, we start to question what is wrong with us, only pushing us further into isolation.

5. And most importantly: Sleep – while sleep deprivation is a symptom of depression, it impairs our ability to think clearly and triggers more depression. If you are stuck in the sleep deprivation cycle, contact a psychiatrist to discuss possible options to induce sleep.