Severe Depression: Getting Through One More Day


People with severe depression can experience days or weeks when symptoms are so strong that nothing seems to diminish the suffering.

Even when life feels unbearable, there are still things that can be done – not to feel better, but to keep going and get through another day. Sometimes these survival measures will even provide a bit a relief.

Belly Breathing

Whether you are curled up in a chair, lying down or pacing, this simple exercise is doable. You are already breathing; with just a little more effort, you can breathe in a way that will help calm and balance your central nervous system.

Simply place your awareness or attention on your abdomen and inhale into your belly so that it expands or as you draw air in. If it helps, place a hand on your abdomen and feel it rise with your breath. Once your belly is full of air, allow your inhalation to rise into your chest and comfortably fill it. Exhale slowly, allowing your muscles to relax. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Stop Resisting

If fighting the symptoms is not working, then stop doing it. You may just be making the symptoms worse. Years ago, the therapist I was seeing said, “Just let go and let yourself be depressed. It doesn’t mean you want your symptoms, but obviously struggling against them isn't helping. Just relax and be a blob of depression for now. Be OK with that; let everything else go."

The first time my therapist said this, I thought he was nuts, but following his suggestion can be a lifesaver. It relieves any unnecessary suffering caused by futile struggling and resistance.

Actions of Distraction

No matter how horrid depressive symptoms get, we all of have at least one activity we can manage to engage that will distract us from our thoughts and feelings. These distractions may include reading, talking to someone on the phone, playing a video game, making a puzzle, browsing Facebook, watching TV or a movie, listening to music, journaling, walking, drumming, coloring, dusting, organizing, doodling, stretching, mowing the lawn or drinking a cup of tea.


Maybe you exercise fairly regularly, eat well most of the time, try to get enough sleep, read inspirational and positive materials, meditate, socialize, maybe even take antidepressants – and still you find yourself severely depressed. In this situation it is difficult not to feel frustrated, defeated or that you are a failure. This is a difficult but perfect time to talk to yourself with compassion.

For instance, you might tell yourself: “I may feel like a failure, but feelings aren’t facts. I know depression isn’t my fault. I’ve made it through many painful days, and I can make it through this one. Despite how I feel, I know life is precious; my life is precious.”

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. ~ Buddha

Reach Out

Seek out the company of a family member or friend, utilize an on online support group, call your therapist, call a crisis line, or, if necessary, call 911.


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