10 Ideas To Help Relieve Depression

10 Ideas To Help Relieve Depression

By David L. Jones

Depression Has Taken Over My Life

It’s Dave, here. I have for the last month been living at the bottom of a black hole. I have spent all day in bed with the comforter pulled tight over my head.  I won’t lie to you, depression has taken over my life.  Feelings of immeasurable sadness, hopelessness and utter emptiness are consuming me. This time of year is always a struggle for me, but this winter has been excruciatingly painful.

A Dark and Windowless Room

The only reason I have found the strength to pull the comforter off my head and pull up a chair to my computer and start writing, is that hopefully sharing my story, can help someone else that has found themselves trapped in a dark, door-less, window-less room.

Four Generations of Suffering

A friend of mine who also suffers from depression offered me some advice recently. She reports at least four generations of depression, alcoholism and suicide in her family. She told me that when she begins to experience depression she refuses to give herself permission to suffer.

Bad Gene Behavior

In fact, she tells me she is able to convince herself she is not to “blame” for the depression. It’s genetics, it is a ‘factor of her life’, but she will not live her life based on ‘bad gene’ behavior.  Thus, she is not bothered with a prolonged view from inside her comforter.

A List

Instead, she literally forces herself to follow a demanding list of activities. Anything is “demanding” when I can barely find the energy to lift my head off the pillow. In an effort to help me through this bad spot she has shared some of her tips with me.

Recreational Drugs and Alcohol

Some of them are helpful and I thought it was worthwhile for me to share my friend’s prescription for wellness. She said most of the information is on-line, but she has it all written out for me. First, she suggests that I avoid alcohol and recreational drugs. Oh, boy, not too sure about this one. I don’t drink. But, you see, I like my cannabis. I live in Oregon, so cannabis, both medical and recreational is legal. So this admonition is one I argue against. I guess I might as well crawl back in bed and cover my head.

It’s Only Temporary

My friend however, explains that the temporary relief I get from my depression during consumption of my drug of choice does not last. In fact, she suggests that my substance use may make my symptoms worse. I doubt it, but I will try to share her suggestions with you without further complaint.

10 Ideas To Help Relieve Depression

1). Structure.

Depression saps structure from your life. One day melts into the next, and before you know it, months have passed. It is important to step outside this cycle. One of the best ways to confront this issue is by writing up a daily schedule. A schedule will keep you out of bed doing something. Anything.

2). Start setting daily goals.

The goals in the beginning should be small. Mow the lawn, do the laundry, wash the dishes, take a shower. Each goal small, but a step toward more challenging goals. It is important to up the challenge every couple of days.

3). Exercise.

Exercise temporarily boosts the feel good chemicals in our bodies. The most well-known are endorphins.  A regular walk about the neighborhood encourages the brain to reset itself. Try for at least a daily 30 minutes outside, moving. My friend prefers to pool jog at the local Y for an hour daily.

4). Eat well.

It is well documented that foods containing Omega 3 fatty acids such as tuna and salmon and folic acid such as spinach and avocado help ease depressive symptoms. Depression has a tendency to cause us to overeat. Careful. Being overweight does not improve one’s self-image.

5). Adequate rest.

Although I have spent hours in bed, I am not sleeping. I am ruminating, I am crying, I am despairing over what has happened and what has not happened. In fact, sleeping is difficult. The less sleep I get the worse my depression gets. It is important at such a time to get yourself on a sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time everyday. My friend emphasizes that I should NOT take naps. That is a real challenge, but I am trying. She made me remove my computer and television from my bedroom to “re-imagine” the space as one for sleep, not activity.

6). Engage in work.

As my depression has worsened I have pulled back from responsibilities at home and work. Of course, my friend has encouraged me to renew those responsibilities. Staying involved, with daily responsibilities she tells me will encourage a lifestyle that counters depression. Tasks and responsibilities keep us grounded and give us a sense of accomplishment. If you are retired, think about volunteering at a local charity.

7). Refuse to accept negative thoughts.

Challenge the negativism of depression. Do not assume the worst; fight back with logic. Logic can be a good tool to counter or resist depression. No, you are not the stupidest person ever born. Remember, there are at least a billion people as dumb as you. My little joke, sorry.

8). Supplements.

Ask your doctor (psychiatrist) if it is okay to take supplements and use alternative medicine. Acupuncture, and massage therapy relieve stress and anxiety a common part of depression. Folic acid and fish oil as mentioned earlier can help relieve depression. Supplements can also be helpful additions to your diet, especially if you don’t regularly eat fish and green leafy veggies.

9). Something new.

Try doing something new and different. Depression tends to lock us into a rut. Push yourself to do something different. Go to a museum, take in a matinée movie, buy a magazine and read it while watching children play at a local park. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Take a yoga class. Study Spanish or French. Get out, and do something!

10). Schedule a fun day.

If you are depressed you will need to expend energy  to carry out this one. If nothing is fun anymore, remember that is just a symptom of your illness. Keep trying, it will probably take some work, but you will be able to have fun again. Plan things you used to enjoy, even if it feels like a chore. Keep going to movies, dating, going out with friends. When we are depressed we forget how to enjoy life. We have to relearn how to have a good time, but fun will once again become fun, I am told.

But, I’m Different

This is not easy for me. By that, I in no way intend to diminish my friend’s battle with depression. But, I just feel her depression is different from mine. I only have three generations of depression and alcoholism in my genealogy; and no suicide, that I’m aware of. I know that we are all, in one fashion or another, victims of our DNA, but, I’m not sure my distant relatives are responsible for my depression.

Psychic Pain

The link on the genetic chain between depression and alcoholism according to some studies is interchangeable. Just the same, I can’t talk myself out of my feelings, just because I know there is a physical reason for my psychic pain. My friend offered me a list of 10 suggestions to help me deal with my depression. I’ve noticed that when I’m depressed I become particularly obstinate and rarely listen to anyone.  My particular hope, however, is that someone in the audience that is also depressed can use some of these ideas to help relieve their depression.

**Depression is a serious matter. In many cases of extreme depression people may require hospitalization. This is particularly true if a person is contemplating self-harm. If you are feeling as if you are at risk for self-harm please contact your mental health therapist immediately.

**The National Suicide Lifeline. Please call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) if you need to connect with a counselor for emotional support.


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