Beat Depression

Treating Depression With Self-Help

depressed-womanSome people say that depression feels like a black curtain of despair coming down over their lives. Many people feel like they have no energy and can’t concentrate. Others feel irritable all the time for no apparent reason. The symptoms vary from person to person, but if you feel “down” for more than two weeks, and these feelings are interfering with your daily life, you may be clinically depressed.

Most people who have gone through one episode of depression will, sooner or later, have another one. You may begin to feel some of the symptoms of depression several weeks before you develop a full-blown episode of depression. Learning to recognize these early triggers or symptoms and working with your doctor will help to keep the depression from worsening.

Most people with depression never seek help, even though the majority will respond to treatment. Treating depression is especially important because it affects you, your family, and your work. Some people with depression try to harm themselves in the mistaken belief that how they are feeling will never change. Depression is a treatable illness.

Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity. A depressed person will experience or display some of the following.

  • Persistent sadness, anxiety or feelings of emptiness
  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and/or pessimism.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Contemplating suicide or suicide attempt
  • Problems concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Persistent aches, pains or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Insomnia, waking early, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Loss of interest in activities that once were pleasurable (e.g., hobbies, sex, social activities, etc.)

Anxiety & Depression

They may seem like opposites, but depression and anxiety often occur together. The loneliness, hopelessness, and sadness of depression can make you afraid and anxious. In turn, this fear and anxiety may make you exhausted and more depressed. It’s a vicious cycle, and often there’s no way to say which condition came first.

Anxiety takes many different forms. Some people with anxiety disorders suffer panic attacks, which are sudden bouts of extreme fear along with a racing heart, breathlessness, and even pain. Others have anxiety that causes them to often relive traumatic events from their past. Anxiety can make people terrified of social situations, or give them extreme fears of certain objects or situations, making it seem impossible to get in an elevator, for example.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, and each has specific symptoms. But they all have these things in common:

  • Extreme fear and dread, even when there is no real danger
  • Emotional distress that interferes with daily life
  • A tendency to avoid situations that bring on anxiety

Like depression, anxiety is treatable with therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Antidepressants can affect anxiety that is associated with depression. Some antidepressants also treat full fledged anxiety disorders. Your healthcare provider can discuss further treatments for anxiety with you.

Causes of Depression

Depression has no single cause; often, it results from a combination of things. You may have no idea why depression has struck you. Whatever its cause, depression is not just a state of mind. It is related to physical changes in the brain, and connected to an imbalance of a type of chemical that carries signals in your brain and nerves. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.

Some of the more common factors involved in depression are:

  • Family history. Genetics play an important part in depression. It can run in families for generations.
  • Trauma and stress. Things like financial problems, the breakup of a relationship, or the death of a loved one can bring on depression. You can become depressed after changes in your life, like starting a new job, graduating from school, or getting married.
  • Pessimistic personality. People who have low self-esteem and a negative outlook are at higher risk of becoming depressed. These traits may actually be caused by low-level depression (called dysthymia).
  • Physical conditions. Serious medical conditions like heart disease, cancer, and HIV can contribute to depression, partly because of the physical weakness and stress they bring on. Depression can make medical conditions worse, since it weakens the immune system and can make pain harder to bear. In some cases, depression can be caused by medications used to treat medical conditions.
  • Other psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and (especially) substance abuse often appear along with depression.

Exercise and Depression

Depression is so common most of us have either experienced it or know more than one person who has. Medication and therapy are common treatments, but exercise is another tool that can bring relief. Study after study has shown that exercise can fight mild to moderate depression because it:

  • Increases your sense of mastery, which helps if you don’t feel in control of of your life
  • Increases your energy
  • Increases self-esteem
  • Provides a distraction from your worries
  • Improves your health and body, which can help lift your mood
  • Helps you get rid of built-up stress and frustration
  • Helps you sleep better, which can often be a problem when you’re depressed

It may seem impossible to get moving when you feel depressed and you may wonder, why bother? One reason is that you can get some immediate relief, even if you can only manage 10 or 15 minutes of exercise. Some studies have shown that exercise can improve your mood for up to 12 hours. The question is, how can you overcome the inertia that often accompanies depression?

Keep It Simple

The problem with depression is that it drains your energy, making every task seem like a monumental effort. Part of moving past that draining fatigue is taking that first step, whether it’s putting on your workout clothes or getting out the dog’s leash for a walk. Keeping it simple and doable will make it easier to get started.

  • Set simple goals. It doesn’t take much exercise to lift your mood, so you don’t have to train for a marathon. Set a goal to walk around the block. Promise yourself you’ll walk around the block at least 3 times that day. The next day, do more. Try to improve just a little bit each day.
  • Go easy on yourself. You might not be able to handle a lot of exercise, so try to feel good about what you can do. Whether you get out and work in the yard, take the dog for a walk or go up and down the stairs a few times, it all counts. Now is not the time to kick yourself.
  • Do what you usually enjoy. When you’re depressed, it’s hard to enjoy anything, but think about what you normally like when you’re not depressed. If yoga feels good to you, spend a few minutes going through a few simple poses. If you like fresh air, go for a walk or a bike ride. You may not enjoy it in the moment, but even a small change in your mood can make a difference.
  • Make it social. Try to find a friend to walk with. Talking to people can help raise your energy and remind you that you’re not alone.
  • Go outside. Even a little sunshine can help boost your mood and remind you that there’s a world out there. You can participate in it as much as you can handle.
  • Work with your doctor. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your treatment options and your plans to exercise. He or she may be able to refer you to someone who can help you set up an exercise program.

Workouts for Depression

When it comes to managing depression, there are no right or wrong exercises. Higher intensity exercise, like jogging or aerobics, can help your body release feel-good hormones while lower intensity exercise, like yoga or Pilates, can help you relax and connect with your body. The following workouts offer a range of ideas to choose from, whether you need something relaxing or something a little more intense:

  • 10-Minute Yoga – This simple yoga workout will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed.
  • Relaxing Stretch – This workout is perfect when you feel tight and need to release some tension.
  • Beginner Intervals – A vigorous workout can help work off any anxiety and stress you’re feeling.

Whatever you do, remember that you’re not alone and that there is hope. Exercise is just one more tool to help with your moods and the sense of accomplishment can add a new dimension to your day–something you can be proud of and feel good about.

Author: Vijayeta Priyadarshini

Article Source:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.