A Little Depressed? 10 Actions That Help Me
I know you’re human, because no other creatures can read, and you’re reading this, so you’re human. Since you’re human, you get depressed from time to time. Me too! Here are
10 11 actions to beat your depression into submission. Collectively, they address the dimensions within which we live our lives.
I HAPPEN to have a high tolerance for pain, or so it seems. I’ve gone years without work, a “significant other” and – what I feel is worse – without creating much of value. Anyone with normal pain receptors would have been compelled to do something dramatic to change the channel. I, however, sit still and stare out from various windows in my home at the sailboats cruising by in the bay below.
(A sweet picture, yes?)
Fortunately, these latent periods have been appreciatively disrupted by work and love and all the stuff concomitant with them. So, I’m not terminally flirting with pain, or… as it might better be known… with depression. And, to be fair, the depression I’m speaking of is not the kind that is so debilitating that the “flirting” is with prospects of leaping from tall building and bridges. Rather, here the wrestling match is with that type of depression that is normative for most of us: small doses of depression, but substantial enough to categorize a week here and there as very sub-par.
From what I’ve read, many of us so disdain these depressed periods that we reflexively grab some pharmaceutical or another – Lexapro, Effexor, Cymbalta, Zoloft, Paxil – take your pick; certainly, the TV commercials will tell you that there’s no need to be down, just drug up to get up.
The commercials must machine gun the “cover-their-ass” pronouncements of the ill effects that might accompany your drug of choice, but what is not said is that depression drugs may not work at all. This sad fact I report in Do Depression Drugs Work? which points to evidence that antidepressants, on average, may be little more effective than sugar pills in treating depression.
So, what should we sometimes depressed humans to do?
[UPDATE: Check out Dr. Weil's Four Alternatives to Antidepressant Drugs.]
10 11 Depression-beating Actions
This is what I’ve done to help myself reset, punch back, ignore, take leave of, evaporate my bouts of depression. Disclaimer: These suggestions are not for the really strong type of depression that may sink you into an oblivion from which you may not reappear.
1. Implement a daily schedule that you can adhere to. This means that as soon as you awaken, you have something to do that you’re willing to do.
2. Upon arising, take a shower and make it hot and cold to revitalize your body and stimulate your mind
3. Dress yourself… not in the afternoon, but in the morning, and dress as if you have something to do, somewhere to go, even if you don’t; however, if you follow #1, you should have something scheduled.
4. Listen to music, the kind that makes you feel good. You can dial in what you need in the moment. (Read how music helps health: Lost and Found Radio and Music’s Affect on Health.)
5. Take supplements known to be useful to ameliorate depression. Krill Oil has a phospholipid form of omega-3 which is absorbed faster and more efficiently than the triglyceride form typically found in fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are reputed to help with stress, promote heart health and lubricate joints. (Read this on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and the London Cabbie study.) SAM-e helps balance Dopamine & serotonin are neurotransmitters that control mood and pain. But that’s just for starters — SAM-e also helps support cartilage-producing cells, and produces glutathione for detoxification, while replenishing the liver’s own SAMe supply. I’ve written about both these supplements here, and suggest you take look.
6. Recruit a Buddy, someone in whom you can entrust your innermost self and will help lift you up when way down low.
7. Exercise! Grab that buddy, or give him/her permission to grab you, and go exercise. Walk, jog, yoga, push-ups – just do it, and if you want to know why, read what the Mayo Clinic has to say about how exercise eases the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Yes, it gets that dopamine and endorphins flowing – all feel-good chemicals that can help.
8. Smile in front of a mirror. Yes, this may be horrifying at first as that reflection reveals that sad, sorry, self-indulgent face, but stay with it and something deep within you may arise and shout “fuck this!”. After that, a smile may begin to shimmer on the horizon, and this will shift things for the better.
9. Meditate. Yeah, like all of these suggestions, frankly, getting yourself to mediate when depressed has about as much a chance of success as to chant, “I am not depressed” ten times whilst hopping in a circle in on one foot. That’s why #6 is so important. Remember, you gave Buddy permission to be a pain in the ass, so he/she will come over, get your sorry self off the couch and out of the bon bon box. Sit on a cushion, make up a feel-good mantra to focus on, and just follow your breath for ten minutes. Couldn’t hurt. Extra points: Make that mantra about three things for which you’re grateful. One of them could be gratitude that you’re sitting in meditation.
10. Read a biography. Choose a biography about someone who arose from the ashes, someone perhaps with whom you can relate. Could be inspiring!
11. Walk with Rumi. When you’re down, you need ventilation and inspiration, a potent combo. The walk with take care of the first, and the Sufi mystic poet, Rumi will be the inspiration. Whatever your view is of a higher power, ole Rumi will take you one step closer. For more on this, read Relief from Depression with Rumi.
I’ve done all these things, here and there, when I remember and am not so depressed to do something. Yeah, that’s the catch, so remember #6.
Hey, do you do something that helps with your moments of depression, other than drugs? If so, please tell us in the Comments section below.