depression affects a wide range of people

Depression affects so many people today… After a quick Google search, I pulled these statistics: 6.7% of Americans will suffer bouts of depression and 1.5% will suffer prolonged depression each year; anxiety disorders will affect “…40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.“; “Globally, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression

…and depression can affect all levels of health, “People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.

I’ve known quite a few people to suffer from depression directly, but I’ve known so many more to feel its affects because someone they love is affected. It can really hurt to be the one depressed and look around and see the effect it’s having on those you love. That feeling of letting people down can be a dangerous catalyst for spiraling further into depression.

You might notice symptoms like these in yourself or those experiencing depression.

  • difficulty sleeping ( or too much sleep)
  • constantly feeling tired or drained
  • anxiety or increased trouble around making decisions
  • constant or persistent thoughts of self harm (or suicide)
  • recurring (or obsessive) thoughts and conversations centered on shame, guilt, or defeat
  • …among others…

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression, there’s a national hotline you can call to get help. (1-800-662-HELP (4357)

a woman sitting alone with her head tucked into her arms and knees
Depression often accompanies feelings of lonliness. (pexels.com)

a little of my own journey…

Over the last fifteen years, I have personally dealt with several depressive behaviors. The journey to getting better has been quite gradual for me, and has mostly involved re-wiring my brain. It’s been an ongoing process of capturing my thoughts and repurposing them to create the identity I will be proud of.

Some of the things I’ve been doing recently have been really helpful in taking my journey to the next level. Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf is a book I’m currently reading, and includes a 21-day framework for mindfulness. (See my review here)

Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod is a really great book if you want to create new habits for yourself that will move you closer to the goals that will reinforce your self-confidence. (my review of Miracle Morning)

… now, on to the steps…
picture of friends enjoying coffee with smiles
Thoughtfulness and community are the first big steps I would recommend to those experiencing depression.
pexels.com

4 STEPS TO BEAT DEPRESSION

step #1: Re-capture Your Mind

A lot of the articles and research I reviewed for this post din’t put this one first, but I think it’s worth saying that what manifests in our lives is often a direct result of our thoughts. When I’m experiencing my worst struggles with depression, I notice that my mind is flooded with negative thoughts about how I’m not enough, or what I did was so wrong, or frustration over if it will ever be the right time to go all in.

Objective reflection meditation are great for this struggle. I wrote more about meditation in my blog post here. Actively capturing thoughts as they enter your mind dismissing the negative ones is the key to step#1. This isn’t always easy. You’ll need step#2 for the tougher times.

When I take some time to step back from my situation and look at things objectively, I began to realize that the source of my problems is my mindset towards them. Lots … LOTS! of people in situations worse than mind were able to overcome the external stuff. How, they were determined not to lose at life – no matter the setbacks. Some level of depression is choice, and this is where we can start winning first. Decide that we will win, and then choose environments and people who will support that belief.

step #2: Connect With Quality Community

This is probably the most important physical action we can take, since it will help to support other actions.

step #3: Imagine & Write Down Some Goals

I’m talking about some short term stuff here. The best goal setting practices I’ve heard of start with figuring out what your ultimate goals are, and working backwards from there. However, depression has a tendency to get in the way of us looking at the future positively.

While we’re on the path to healthy thinking, it can really help to have small goals that we can accomplish very soon. This allows us to achieve small wins frequently, and we can use those wins to remind ourselves constantly of our success. These wins become like small logs we’re adding to the fire of our positivity.

I’m a strong believer in keeping some of the most important goals to ourselves until we develop them into actual plans we can share with others. For this step, however, I recommend sharing these smaller goals with a couple of people who are closest to you. This is a big reason for why step#2 is so important.

If you’re like me, then you have a really hard time connecting with community (lone wolf, anybody?). That’s ok. I’ve used step#3 with co-workers or other associates I see frequently. Even then, I know that they will ask about my progress and I’ll be proud of myself after I tell them about it and realized I’m further along then I thought. It’s a baby step, but a powerful one IF combined with step#1 (don’t let those conversations lead you into a spiral of shame)

step #4: Track & Reward Yourself

a hand lines up paper cut outs of stars
Keep track of your progress and reward yourself.
pexels.com

One of the best things I’ve ever done was to add a voice memo app to my smartphone’s shortcuts. Equally valuable, was downloading and reviewing a few journaling apps. I now have the combination of catching quick thoughts and ideas on the fly (in a hurry), or deep introspections spoken in the moment. What a power duo!

I feel a greatly reduced amount of anxiety around forgetting ideas and spontaneous song lyrics, and blog post topics, and …well, you get the idea.