Coming to Terms With Depression
The Road to Recovery: Small Steps Add Up
Recovering from depression requires compassion -- above all, from you. You have a medical illness and you need time to recover. But one of the difficulties of depression is that its symptoms often interfere with the activities that can help you feel better.
Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and reaching out to trusted friends and family can all aid recovery. But depression affects your energy level and ability to sleep and eat. Feelings of hopelessness and sadness can make it difficult to contact people or even go for a walk.
This means that healing can be a slow process -- often several months, according to Allen. There may be days when you don’t have enough energy get out of the house. That’s OK. If all you do at first is take your medication as directed and go to therapy appointments, that’s enough to move forward.
As your depression lifts, your symptoms should gradually fade. Your sleep and appetite will improve. On days when your energy level and mood are better, take advantage of it. Go out for a walk or call a friend. Take what small steps you can to be more active and involved with the world.
Tips for Depression Recovery
As you start to feel better, there are some things you can do to help:
- Recognize that you are not your depression. Your negative feelings are because of the condition and are not reality.
- Focus on a healthy lifestyle. Good body health will help your mental health. Try to stick with the same sleep and wake times, eat a healthy diet, stay physically active, and avoid alcohol and recreational drugs.
- Minimize the stress in your life. Stress can prolong an episode of depression and interfere with recovery. You can’t eliminate stress completely. But you can learn healthy ways to cope with it, such as talking to trusted friends, getting regular exercise, and learning relaxation techniques.
- Widen your supportnetwork. This is the time to be with people who are comfortable with depression. Talk with your therapist or doctor about support groups in your area or look for online support groups.
- Don’t make major life changes until you feel better. Depression colors the way you see the world, so it’s difficult to know whether some of your perceptions are based on fact or mood. Talk over any serious decisions you can’t avoid with someone who can be objective about the situation.
- Be socially active in a low-key way. You don’t need to become a social butterfly. Going to the movies or a concert can help you get out and reconnect with people but doesn’t require a great deal of interaction or energy.
- Be resourceful. Take advantage of anything that can help you without adding stress to your life.
Remember that healing from major depression takes time, and you will have good and bad days throughout your recovery. Knowing that these ups and downs are normal can help you have realistic expectations and be patient with yourself. With persistence and support, you will get there.