Managing Depression: Four Basic Elements

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Anyone who suffers from depression knows that symptoms affect all areas of wellness. That is why holistic approaches to depression treatment — those that address mind, body, and emotions — make sense.

The most annoying thing about depression is that managing it requires making choices and taking action — two things that are difficult when motivation is in the toilet.

Making any effort can feel like walking through setting cement, digging a hole with a soft rubber shovel, or like engine meltdown when all the spark plugs have stopped firing or cannot stop firing. However, doing nothing lets the depression-snowball roll down the hill of symptoms, picking up size and speed.

Successfully managing depression requires us to address a minimum of four things:

FIRST, physical activity is essential, whether it’s walking, housecleaning, gardening, or washing the car. The body needs activity to remain healthy. If motivation is low, we need to start small.

  1. Vacuuming one room is more active than not vacuuming at all.
  2. Walking around one block is healthier than not taking a walk.
  3. Doing one yoga stretch per day, though three would be more helpful, is better than none.
  4. Take walks or go to an exercise class with a friend.

SECOND, the body needs good food. The typical Western diet is notoriously hard on human health. Theoretically, no one should take medication until they have been on a healthy diet for at least 12 weeks; like that is going to happen. Depressed people would be overwhelmed at the thought of revamping their entire diet, but making small changes is more doable.

  1. Add one to three servings of fruit or veggies to your menu each week.
  2. Since it’s easier to ignore junk food cravings when junk food is unavailable at home, stop buying it, or buy less of it.
  3. Consider consulting a nutritionist who can pinpoint any individual diet deficits.

THIRD, the mind can be difficult to reign in, but not impossible. Anyone with depression needs to understand how thoughts affect his or her mood, and have psychological tools to help him or her choose healthier thoughts.

  1. This might involve seeing a therapist or getting group counseling.
  2. Some people will require the aid of medication to manage their thoughts, so consulting with a psychiatrist is recommended.
  3. If seeing a doctor or therapist is not an option, do your best to find a depression support group.

FOURTH, people generally do better when they have a sense of belonging. A sense of connection can be with family, a group of friends, a church, a support group, an interest or an activist group, with pets, or a volunteer organization.

  1. Spending time in the physical presence of others is best, but it is possible to find connection over the Internet if that is your only option.
  2. Though it's hard to imagine that in the entire universe one person matters, we do matter in the lives of other people. We might not feel as if we matter, but if you think about how other people make a difference in your life, you can understand that you make a difference too.

The point is not how you cover the basics of symptom management, it is just important that you do. It may take some experimenting to discover what combination of options helps you best manage your depression.

 
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