Depression is a serious mental illness that affects thousands of people every single day. There is a difference between sometimes feeling sad, and actually being depressed. Some side effects of depression include trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, losing or gaining weight, feeling alone, loss of energy, more anger, and loss of interest in things you previously liked. It can be incredibly difficult to deal with depression, but it’s not impossible to make things better.
I had a personal struggle with depression when I was a freshman and sophomore in high school. I had just switched to a new school district where I didn’t really know anyone. I missed my old friends, and my new friends were okay but they just weren’t the same. I felt very out of place all the time. I had to deal with kids in my school calling me a “rich snob” (couldn’t have been further from the truth) because they didn’t know me or understand anything about me. My best friend betrayed me by secretly dating my ex-boyfriend who I still liked behind my back when I was on vacation. My parents were very strict, and were very hard on me about everything from friends to school to going on the Internet. School stressed me out, I didn’t know how to deal with growing up, and I felt like I had no one.
I constantly felt miserable. I was lonely, I felt like nothing I did was good enough for anyone, and I was confused about my purpose. I had trouble sleeping and concentrating on things. I never felt like doing anything, and it was really hard to have a good day.
Eventually, things got better. I started to get closer with my new friends, and I started dating someone who made me happy. My parents lightened up on me a bit. I saw a therapist for a little while. I focused on becoming happier, and I worked through this mild case of depression. I’m lucky that I was able to do this because many people have severe depression and it’s not as easy for them. Today, I am much more happy. Of course I have my days where I feel very sad for almost no reason, and I deal with a lot of anxiety, but I haven’t felt that depressed in a very long time. To keep my anxiety and occasional overwhelming feelings of sadness under control, I still see a therapist and I don’t know where I would be without her.
If you feel like you might be depressed and you don’t know how to handle it, don’t worry – you’re not alone, and you don’t have to be. You need to try to attack depression and work on dealing with it rather than ignoring or accepting it. Here are 10 tips on what to do if you feel depressed:
Don't Feel Like You're WeirdYou should never feel like there's something wrong with you if you're depressed. There is a very unfortunate stigma around depression and other mental illnesses in our society, and it can be really hard to admit that you suffer from depression. But please don't feel like you're weird or alone - you're not. You're not a failure if you're depressed, you didn't do anything wrong, and you shouldn't let anyone make you feel badly about it. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Source: ShutterStock
Reach Out To SomeoneIf you feel depressed, you shouldn't keep it bottled up inside - this will only make things worse. You need to talk to someone. Reach out to someone you trust, whether it's your parents, a brother or sister, another family member, a friend, or even a teacher or counselor. Just find someone you trust and care about to talk to. Having someone to learn on and depend on will make you feel less alone. You need to have some sort of support system, and you shouldn't think that you have to do this on your own. Source: ShutterStock
Force Yourself To Do ThingsWhen someone is depressed, they typically feel like they have no energy to do anything, even things they used to love doing. When an ex and I broke up, I fell back into depression for about a month. During that time, I had no desire to do anything other than lay in bed and watch TV, which I was barely even paying attention to. I would go to school, go to work, go through the motions - then come home and immediately get under my covers. It was a really horrible time for me. Finally, I forced myself to get out there. I made myself hang out with my friends or go places with my family. I convinced myself to go out once in a while. Once I started doing things, I started to feel better. I know it's hard to get yourself out of the house, but make yourself go out - it may take a few times, but it should make you feel better. Source: ShutterStock
Be Careful About Your Sleep ScheduleWhen it comes to the sleeping side effect of depression, it's extreme: you either sleep way too much or way too little. Monitor your sleep schedule. When I was depressed, I slept WAY too much. Sleeping that much made me feel groggy and foggy. It made my depression worse, and I was doing it because I didn't want to face the world. If you're sleeping too much, force yourself to stop. Set alarms to get out of bed at a certain time. Plan activities with friends or family members or even just school stuff. Just make yourself stop napping. If you're sleeping too little, that could also be making your depression worse, and it's really bad for you. If you're dealing with insomnia, try talking to a professional to get help. Source: ShutterStock
Avoid Toxic PeopleThere is probably at least one person in your life who is bad for you and your depression. When I was in high school and I was depressed, I was hanging out with people who talked about their depression and cutting habits proudly - it did not help me get better. Avoid people who encourage your depression, or people who blow it off like it's nothing. Stay away from the people who act like you're faking it, or the people who make you feel bad about it. You don't need those people in your life. Source: ShutterStock
Get Professional HelpI truly believe that one of the best things you can do for depression is to get professional help. I've talked to a lot of friends about my feelings, but none of them have made me feel better the way my therapist has. Don't be scared of talking to a therapist or a psychiatrist - in fact, I get a little scared that there are people out there who don't take advantage of this. A therapist can really help you work through your issues and teach you about coping techniques you never knew about. They will listen and never judge you, and they will know how to handle your problems professionally. It's great to open up to your bestie, and you should, but unless she has a degree in psychology, she physically cannot help you get through everything. Source: ShutterStock
Try To Get Active In Some WayExercise releases endorphins in your brain, and endorphins make you happy. Exercise gets rid of stress, it clears your head, it makes your body feel good, and, again, it will make you happy. Exercise is so important for anyone who's feeling depressed. Don't do it to try to lose weight, do it to feel better. I'm not saying you have to start hitting the gym for an hour every day. That's crazy! But you should try to work some kind of exercise in every day, even for just twenty minutes. It could be taking a brisk walk, going for a run, doing a cardio tape, hopping on the StairMaster... whatever works for you. Yoga and Pilates are also incredibly helpful for depression. Focusing on your breathing and meditating while stretching relaxes you so much. Source: ShutterStock
Focus On What Does Make You HappyWhatever makes you happy or whatever used to make you happy - try doing that again. Sometimes depression puts a black cloud over everything, and takes away even the things you used to love. Try to fight to get them back. Say you love reading. If you're depressed, you might pick up a book and think, "Ugh, I just can't get into this." You'll get discouraged and you'll stop. Push yourself. Read anything you might find interesting. Try to get that passion back. Source: ShutterStock
Consider MedicationI'm personally not big on anti-depressants and other meds like that, but many people are. This choice is yours and yours alone to make. If you've tried other options, and things like talk therapy aren't working for you, you may want to consider taking medication. Anti-depressants can really make you feel like yourself again, but it's important to note that they do come with many side effects and some can be addictive. Talk to a psychiatrist before doing this, and try your other options if you're hesitant. But medication may be right for you, and you should never be ashamed about taking it. Source: ShutterStock
Be PatientYour depression will never be cured overnight. Reading these tips won't magically make you feel better. Going to a therapist once or twice won't change your life. Going out for a week or two won't cure your sadness. It takes time to get past depression, and that's okay. You just need to be patient and you can't give up. My ex-boyfriend is extremely depressed. When he tries something new to try to not be depressed, he gives it a week or two, then gets very frustrated that it didn't immediately work. It doesn't work that way, and you shouldn't expect it to. Give yourself time. You'll get through this. Source: ShutterStock
Have you ever felt depressed? What do you do to get rid of depression? What tips did I forget? Tell me in the comments.