A lot of people who have ever felt depressed often feel alone, as if no one understands what they are going through. Kim not only understands, she also knows how to arm you with coping skills to deal with depression. Kim provides tips and suggestions to alleviate the burden that depression brings.
Avoiding the Traps of Depression
By: Kim Openo, LAPC, NCC
Imagine yourself walking along in the woods of life when you step on what looks like fallen leaves and find yourself falling into a deep hole in the ground. You are unable to get out of the deep, dark, damp, and unbelievably sad trap. The trap isolates you from those you care about; the hobbies and work you love; and good nutrition and ability to exercise. Due to this trap, you are unable to think positive thoughts and gloom continually runs through your head because all hope is gone. There is no way out and it is easy to slip into the darkness within this pit of despair.
Not everyone experiences the trap of depression like in the metaphor above, but the commonality lies in the fact that depression has traps that can worsen the symptoms of depression. The traps preserve the awful cycle of pain and hopelessness. If you are currently experiencing depression, all of these behaviors can deepen your misery.
AVOIDANCE OF SOCIAL SITUATIONS: When feeling depressed it is easier to avoid social interaction. There seems to always be an excuse not to attend a fun time or family gathering; but connecting with another person is sometimes one of the easiest ways to help with depression. It is not necessary to go to the big holiday party at work, but maybe just having coffee with or calling a trusted friend can help lift your spirit for an afternoon and start you on a better course of action for yourself.
SKIPPING EXERCISE: It has been scientifically proven that endorphins from exercising can help depression as much as medication. In fact, exercise that includes mindfulness or self-awareness, such as yoga or tai chi does even more good to alleviate symptoms of depression (Gill, Womack, & Safranek, 2010). So, take a short walk during lunch or do ten minutes of yoga even with a rented DVD if leaving the house is too much.
ADDICTIONS: Addictions, obviously, can mask the pain of depression temporarily. Smoking marijuana, drinking, & over-eating are all things that can replace the pain or loneliness for a while. This behavior does nothing but cover up the old problem while beginning a new one. Using compulsive shopping as an example, depression may be alleviated by those $900 Jimmy Choo shoes. However, by the time the debt from the credit card bill comes, the depression is back now there is significant debt – two big problems to solve.
SUGAR: While one can never say that a little dark European chocolate isn’t a great way to feel wonderful now and again. It even has anti-oxidants! When a person is depressed sometimes they can turn to white flour carbohydrates and sugars in excess. Not quite an addiction, but enough to impact health and not get enough essential vitamins, minerals, protein and nutrients from better chosen foods that can naturally work to help depression. Try to force yourself to eat more healthfully one day at a time and your mood will thank you for it.
NEGATIVE THINKING & RUMINATION: It is easy to let a scratched record skip over and over again in your head of pessimistic thoughts when you are depressed, especially those thoughts that are based on negative emotions. If you cannot rid yourself of negative thoughts & ruminating on them until they almost feel as if the voice in your head has a life of its own, then it is time to call a professional counselor or therapist. Methods such as client-centered listening and cognitive behavioral therapy can help you feel listened to while also giving you a real method for how to change the patterns of those thoughts. Simply put, depression is not something that HAS to be a life-long problem with the right tools to handle the symptoms when they come.
Again, not everyone gets caught in these depression traps and no one is suggesting that avoiding the traps are the cure for depression. However, some small changes can help with depressive symptoms and make coping easier, especially when being treated by medication and/or a professional counselor. Remember, if you are depressed and feeling suicidal, call 1-800-SUICIDE or log on to www.imalive.com and speak or chat with a live trained volunteer.
Gill, A., Womack, R., & Safranek, S. (2010). Does exercise alleviate the symptoms of depression? Family Physicians Journal, 59(9), 530-531.