4 Depression Relief Strategies You Need to Try
Sadness, irritability, boredom, tiredness, insecurity, hopelessness, insomnia, trouble concentrating — any of these sound familiar? If so, you might be someone who has been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, known to many as simply depression.
This mood disorder can impact the way you think, feel, and behave in significant ways. Everyday tasks might seem like they’re impossibly difficult, while the things that once made you happy and energized are now draining and tiresome. You may feel completely indifferent about your own wellbeing, or even suicidal.
The persistent problems caused by depression can leave many people feeling totally hopeless with nowhere to turn to. Fortunately, this isn’t true. There are many resources and strategies out there for fighting depression — you just need to know where you can turn to.
In this article, we’ve compiled four scientifically proven strategies to fight your depression. Some require treatment from a doctor, while others can be implemented totally on your own. We hope you find a technique that works for you!
1. Regular Exercise
People have been lauding the physical health benefits of exercise for eons. It increases your endurance, boosts your speed, builds muscle tone, helps to control your weight, reduces your risk of heart disease, strengthens your bones — need we go on?
But it’s not just your body that benefits from regular exercise. Your brain and your mind — yes, they are different — also benefit. Your brain benefits as exercise stimulates the body to release proteins and other chemicals that improve the organ’s structure and function.
This helps to keep your thinking, learning, and evaluating skills sharp. That isn’t the only impact of exercise on your cognitive functions — exercise is also considered an all-natural treatment to fight depression.
In the short term, high-intensity exercise is known to release chemicals that improve mood and mental health, known as endorphins. This is the cause of the “runner’s high” that many avid runners report. In the long term, low-intensity exercise over time promotes the release of proteins called growth factors, which help with brain and mental health.
In addition, regular exercise can help you to gain confidence, get more social interaction, and take your mind off of the things that worry or upset you. All of these could indirectly aid in boosting your mood and improving your mental health!
2. Therapy and Medication
Talk therapy and antidepressant medication are two of the most common treatments for depression in the U.S. We’ve grouped them here because they are often used in coordination with one another to tackle multiple causes or symptoms of depression.
The most common kind of talk therapy used to treat depression is called cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This kind of therapy is actually used for many conditions, including anxiety, substance abuse, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses.
CBT typically centers on thinking patterns and cognitive skills. Therapists will help patients to develop healthier coping mechanisms, use problem-solving skills, and learn to recognize their own cognitive distortions.
The patient then practices these skills in their own life, aiming to reduce problematic cognitive and behavioral patterns. The focus is on moving forward and learning to manage one’s depression independently.
Antidepressant medications are used to reduce the chemical imbalances and functional errors in the brain that cause depression. There are many different kinds of antidepressants, including:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This is the most common type of antidepressant, and the type with the least side effects.
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Similar to SSRIs, but not exactly the same. Some respond better to SNRIs than SSRIs, but one is not always more effective than the other.
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Often prescribed after SSRIs or SNRIs have been tried, TCAs are an older antidepressant treatment. They are sometimes recommended for treating other mental illnesses, like OCD or bipolar disorder.
All antidepressants must be prescribed by your doctor.
3. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
For those who have tried therapy and/or antidepressant medications, but haven’t found any success, don’t worry. There are other treatment options available to you. One of the safest and most effective of these treatments is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
TMS has been found to be highly effective against a variety of mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD. Some patients have even seen full remission from depression thanks to TMS!
TMS is a treatment that uses electromagnetic stimulation to influence the activity in your brain. Nerve cells in the areas of your brain that involve mood control and depression are stimulated. This activates the parts of the brain that are more dormant in those who suffer from depression.
This treatment is safe and easy. You are awake throughout each session, as an electromagnetic coil is placed lightly on your head, outside of the relevant areas of the brain. You might hear a clicking sound and feel a tapping on your head throughout the 30-minute session. Side effects are mild, and include headache and lightheadedness.
4. Other Lifestyle Changes
If you’re not looking to get into the major depression interventions such as therapy, medication, or TMS, but you still want to improve your mood, here are some easy day-to-day changes you can make:
- Establish a routine.
- Eat healthier.
- Fix your sleep schedule.
- Pursue new hobbies.
- Socialize more.
- Find a good work-life balance.
Putting in a little extra effort in these areas can make a big difference!
Depression can be tricky. Because it is so exhausting and debilitating, it can leave you feeling like there is no hope for your future. This makes it even more difficult to get the proper treatment you need.
The thing is, this is just your depression tricking you into feeling hopeless — in reality, there are so many options out there for those who suffer from depression. With the right changes to your life, from medicine to TMS to going for a jog, you will conquer your depression and continue living life to the fullest.