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Top 10 Ways to Alleviate Depression

Jim Carey suffers from depression

Jim Carrey, Owen Wilson, Ellen Degeneres, Russell Brand;  are all comedians that suffer from depression.

Depression is a commonly diagnosed mental illness that can range from mild to severe low mood  leading to suicidal ideation and attempts.

You would think these happy-go-lucky, funny, rich famous people have no reason to be depressed, but depression is not picky and can sneak its way through anyone no matter the shape, size, sex, financial status, social status and occupation of the person.

Yes, there are environmental variables that can exacerbate depressed mood, triggers that cause onset of depression, poor diets, work pressures, financial stress,relational conflicts, health concerns, loss of a loved one and chronic stress, all in which contribute to depression.

People carry depression genes

IT’S IN THE BRAIN.

More than likely, someone who experiences depression is predisposed to it, meaning they carry a “depression” gene. An individual’s biological make up is believed to be the etiology of the disease. You will usually see patterns of depression in families because depression is hereditary just like diabetes, cancer, obesity, height and eye color is. That does not mean if depression runs in your family you will definitely have it. It just means that you may be more sensitive to it and would benefit from learning prevention techniques or coping skills to avoid or manage it just as someone who may watch their sugar intake if both of their parents had diabetes.

Depression can get in the way of our jobs, productivity, family relationships, friendships, motivation, creativity, self-care, concentration,sex life, sleep and overall wellness. Although depression is an intrusive, destructive and uncomfortable experience, there is hope to alleviating depression, but first we have to be aware of it.

Warning signs of depression

Warning Signs-If you experience at least five out of eight of these symptoms for two weeks or more you may be suffering from Major Depression, but definitely see a mental health professional first to talk in more detail.

1. Subjective feelings of sadness and emptiness (tearful) for most of the day nearly every day

2. Diminished interest and/or pleasure in all daily activities

3.Weight loss or weight gain, loss or increase of appetite

4. Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly each day

5. Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day

6.Fatigue and/or loss of energy nearly every day

7.Feelings of hopelessness or excessive guilt nearly every day

8.Diminished ability to focus, concentrate, make decisions and think clearly nearly every day

9.Recurrent thoughts of death, disease, suicidal ideation without a plan or suicidal ideation with a plan and suicide attempts.

Top ten ways to alleviate depression.

1.) DON’T ISOLATE!

Depression eats away our desire to socialize and be near people. Since depression is related to feelings of worthlessness and loneliness, isolating will only reinforce and justify your idea that you are not worth being around people and keep you sitting alone in your own head.

Socializing keeps you distracted and connected with others. Emotional support is key to feeling better, even if it’s just a hug from your friend. As hard as it is for a depressed individual to get up and get moving, sometimes you must force yourself up and do something you don’t want to do because if you are depressed you more than likely don’t want to do anything. Depression makes everything a lot more complex and difficult than what it is, so whatever social plans you make, keep it simple so you don’t overwhelm yourself. Make plans to go for lunch or a drive, not a ski trip just yet. It gets easier with practice!

2.) DON’T “MUSTURBATE!”

According to the well-known American psychologist Albert Ellis, founder of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), individuals who “Musturbate” tend to become more depressed than those who don’t musturbate.

What is musturbating?

Ellis describes musturbation as the tendency for humans to place  rules and demands on themselves and hold thinking patterns with internal dialogue such as “I MUST do this or I MUST do that. Ellis came up with a list of words that human beings tend to use that cause intense feelings of anxiety, guilt, anger and depression.

Musturbatory Words:

Must

Should

Shouldn’t

Have to

Need to

These are just a few of the commonly used phrases that Ellis believed to be a cause of emotional distress, depression and other mental health issues. For example, some people may hold the belief that their friend or significant other SHOULDN’T break plans with them or a mom/wife may hold the belief that she MUST have dinner ready before 6:00. Thinking and talking using these phrases will only make things worse. Try replacing those “Musturbatory’ thinking patterns with more realistic and easy-going words. Lets try it.

Mom’s Musturbatory thoughts – “I MUST have dinner ready before 6:00 or else my family won’t eat on time and I’ll disappoint them, therefore I’m a bad mom.”

Mom’s healthier thoughts – “I’d like to try to have dinner ready by 6:00, if not I’m sure 7:00 will be fine; my family isn’t starving and can tolerate feeling hungry for an extra hour, it doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom or wife, I just had a busy day.”

Doesn’t the 2nd one sound so much more easing?!

So anytime you find yourself using words like these, try replacing them because you really don’t HAVE to do many things you think you do. Ellis thinks we really “SHOULD” implement this to start feeling better.

3.) Structure

Make a daily schedule for yourself to avoid having to make too many decisions as to what to do for the day. Because depression can cause indecisiveness, have plans already decided on to avoid any added stress or feelings of guilt on the decision you made. You may want someone to help you with this as it may be hard to find the motivation to plan activities. Buy a planner and use it.

4.) Stand clear of boredom

Keep your mind busy and active. When we have too much time on our hands we think too much. We start thinking about how horrible we feel and feel sorry for ourselves.

Simple activities like organizing your desk, color coordinating your clothes, cooking a new recipe, shopping, decorating a room in your house, watching a movie ,playing a video game or reading a book are activities that can take up your time and distract you from yourself. Just try to stay out of your head because that will only feed the depression.

5.) REFRAIN FROM BLACK AND WHITE THINKING

Try to see the gray areas in situations instead of labeling things as either BLACK or WHITE, good or bad and all or nothing.

If we develop a pattern of perceiving life events and ourselves as so ABSOLUTE, we leave no room for all of the shades of gray in between.

For example, if your best friend forgot to call you back one day when you really needed them we can choose to anger ourselves more and cause more distress by labeling them as a bad friend and terminating the friendship, which most likely will lead to feelings of anger, guilt and depression.

Instead, we can see the gray area which would be, “It sucks they didn’t call me back,I’m pissed off right now, but they are my best friend for a reason and they probably didn’t mean it to hurt me”. You can even apply this to your own emotions. Some people who overcome depression get really upset when they have a day when they’re not happy therefore they believe they are supposed to be depressed and sometimes it can lead into a vicious cycle. It’s ok to be in the middle, average, or just “ok”.

6.)Act as if you are not depressed

When you’re depressed try to act as if you’re not.

Don’t shlep around in sweat pants and an unwashed face. Try to put on nice clothes, take a shower and force a smile. Train your brain to believe you’re not depressed. You will be surprised how helpful this could be and research indicates that we have the power to change our neural pathways in our brains just by practicing alternative styles of thinking and behaving. See this one as a brain exercise.

7.) Eat right

Eating healthy balanced meals also plays a role in helping to treat depression. There is a correlation between depressed individuals and deficiencies in Folic Acid, vitamins b12 and b6 and omega 3 fats; most commonly correlated with a Folic Acid deficiency. You can find Folic Acid in beans, leafy green vegetables and seeds.

8.) Exercise

There are two reasons why exercise helps alleviate depression.

One is the release of endorphins commonly known as “runner’s high”. These endorphins that are released during exercise attach to the same receptors as opiates do concluding that elevated mood and sense of elation occurs during and after exercise.

Secondly, exercise improves our self-esteem, the way we look and gives us a sense of accomplishment. You don’t have to join a gym to exercise!

9) Sleep right

Not getting enough sleep or getting too much sleep affects the chemical activity in our brain leading to more disturbed mood, fatigue and irritability. Try getting at least 6 hours per night and no more than 9 hours per night. If you have difficulty falling asleep or experience sleep disturbance avoid alcohol and caffeine as much as you can, clear the clutter in your bedroom and do not bring any stressful triggers in your bedroom like bills, storage, conflict. Keep your room strictly for relaxation.

Laughter is healthy

10.)LAUGHTER

All of the comedians listed above have the right idea.

Laughter is like medicine for both the mind and the body.

Laughing is associated with happiness and friendships. Laughter brings people closer and creates intimacy across many cultures. It also helps us to physically relieve stress and relaxes our muscles for as long as 45 min after our laughing episode.

Laughing releases endorphins, leaving us feeling peppy and light. When you can laugh at yourself, your catastrophic and disastrous perception of your life can change and you may start  not taking yourself so seriously.

Keep in mind depression is a serious illness and these tips for alleviating depression are easier said than done for some people.

You may want to seek professional help such as a psychiatrist who can prescribe you anti-depressant medication at first to help get you moving. Then, you can see a psychologist, mental health counselor or any trained mental health professional to guide you through the suggestions listed above.

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21 Responses to Top 10 Ways to Alleviate Depression

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  4. This is truly an excellent posting. You identify evidence based treatments for depression from both an Alderian perspective, as well as Ellis’s REBT. Out of the many useful tips you provided, I would say not isolating ones self is probably the most difficult, and most useful. I really appreciate the info you provided and will share it with others.

  5. This time of year, SAD has me musterbating constantly. Great term for a nasty pitfall. And great blog overall. I must read it daily – correction – I will try to read it when I am not so busy not doing everything else I feel I must be doing.

    • otuss says:

      I hope this helps. Seasonal Affective Disorder is usually treated with “light therapy”. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an actual fluorescent light in which a psychiatrist may suggest for you to use and prescribe a specific amount of time to use each day.

      • Thank you for the reply, I do have a light therapy box and would recommend it to anyone who lives in the dark Northern U.S. winter. Combined with daily exercise, a great psychotherapist and good nutrition, my symptoms are now mild and tolerable, no longer debilitating. But those negative thoughts can still creep in.

  6. vixytwix says:

    Great post. Great tips. Shaking the black dog daily.

  7. showard76 says:

    Great post, would it be okay to share it? I have a lot of mental health followers, due to blogging about my BPD, who would love to read this! 🙂

  8. Jannelle says:

    So glad you posted this! Perfect timing for us who are ready to live a happier existence. So glad I don’t suffer from musterbation, but structure? yeah, I can work on that. 🙂

  9. There are some good supplements that combat depression such as 5-HTP which are a lot safer and more natural than prescription drugs.

    You can check out my article on it here:

    http://zazenlife.com/2011/12/09/the-ultimate-supplement-stack/

    Enjoy! 🙂

  10. Clip Snark says:

    Sometimes depression and anxiety go hand in hand. I would suggest Edward Hallowell’s book “Worry”. He also suggests many of the things you mention here. 🙂

  11. Great article!

    Meditation is also a great way to alleviate depression.

    http://zazenlife.com/2011/12/26/top-5-reasons-you-should-meditate/

    Try it out, you will thank me after! 🙂

  12. John Weeren says:

    Albert Ellis, one of my heroes.

  13. Got a lot out of this. Suffered a great deal when I was younger and everything you said was absolutely true especially sleep, nutrition and exercise. Makes all the difference.

    Not isolating. There’s a phrase in 12 Step, ‘move a muscle change a thought.’

    SB

  14. kalima123 says:

    Also really liked the musterbating list – huge issue during a depression, as is the black and white thinking. For me the start of a downward spiral every time. Thank you for the post that addresses both those new to depression as well as some of us “old-timers”!

  15. LOVE this article ~ Thank YOU! Shared on my facebook page Rory Champion Aurora ~ could really help many ~ Much Angel Love.

  16. Amen! Thank you for this post. The timing is impecable and I love the musterbating list. Saying no to these thoughts and phrases will be a resolution for me

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