Self help for depression is all about discovering what you can do to help yourself overcome depression. Think of this article as a self help guide for depression.
If you are suffering from depression or feel you may be suffering from depression but aren't sure, then this article will help you to understand what depression is and how you can overcome it.
Depression is more than just having a bad day. We all have days where we don't feel great about ourselves, and we feel our life could be better, but that doesn't necessarily mean you are depressed.
Depression is when you are constantly sad, always unhappy, day after day, week after week, month after month , year after year.
It's that constant feeling of hopelessness, you hate yourself, you hate your life, you don't even want to be alive and think you'd be better off dead.
Depression has to do with your mental health, the health of the state of your mind. Depression isn't something trivial, it is a real mental illness which needs proper attention.
In this section of the self help for depression guide, I would like to talk a little bit about what causes depression.
The Vicious Cycle of Depression (The Emotion Cycle)
As I stated earlier, depression is about the health of the state of your mind, so your mental activities and thought patterns and processes can trigger depression.
Thoughts determine how we feel. Depression in my opinion is caused when your primary thoughts are focused on the negative things that are going on in your life.
When you focus too much on the negatives you will begin to feel hopeless and helpless and if that cycle continues it won't be long until you are caught in the web of depression.
I remember when I went through my time of depression, it was a time when I had no steady income and couldn't provide for my family the way I wanted, I was applying for Jobs and wasn't even getting interviews, I felt like a loser, I had to constantly borrow money from people, I was in debt, and I just couldn't see a way out, it made me feel terrible that I couldn't provide for my family, I felt less than a man.
As if that wasn't enough, my mum also passed away during that same period. My mum was my rock, she was always there for me, I loved her so much, she was the best mum anyone could wish for, so losing her hit me really hard.
I felt completely lost when I lost my mum, it made me feel even worse knowing that I didn't have any money to contribute towards my mums funeral because of my financial situation.
Depression took me over, I began to feel like what is the point of my life, what kind of useless man can't even provide for his family and contribute towards his mothers funeral, I felt like a waste of space, like I wasn't much use to this world, I felt I would be better off dead.
What took me to this place of depression? It was my thoughts, I had allowed myself to become consumed by all the negative things that were happening in my life and that was dictating how I felt.
Depression comes when you are too focused on the negatives and negative thoughts take over making you feel hopeless and helpless, losing your motivation for life.
When you focus too much on the fact that you were made redundant at work and have been unsuccessful at getting another job,
When you focus too much on the fact that you can't provide for your family
When you focus too much on the pain of losing that loved one
When you focus too much on the pain of that miscarriage
When you focus too much on that failed relationship or marriage
It won't be long until depression takes you over.
You know, the thing about depression is that it makes you feel like noting in your life is good, it completely blinds you to the things that are going well in your life. No matter how bad things are there is always something good about your life but you will never see it because you are focused on the wrong things.
Another thing I want to talk about in this self help for depression guide about the causes of depression is the formula for unhappiness and depression.
Here is the formular:
When your circumstances doesn't equal your expectations you will be depressed.
Unfulfilled expectations can lead to depression. We all have expectations
Marital and relationship expectations
When our lives don't match up to the expectations we have, we can become depressed. For example if your expectations were that by this time of your life you should be in a high flying job making a good salary, married with 2 children, living in a nice house, driving a nice car etc and your reality is that you still haven't found a job, you are single living at home with parents, and can barely afford money to get on the bus talk less of owning a car, when you look at your present circumstance compared to where you thought you'd be by now, that can make you fall into depression because those expectations haven't become a reality and it's even worse when your friends and peers are living your dreams and expectations and you are not. It makes you start to feel like what's wrong with me? Why is my life so messed up? Why doesn't anything good happen to me? Am I cursed?
The next thing I want to address in this self help for depression guide is the consequences of depression and what depression can lead to.
Depression will lead to:
Low self worth
Low self esteem
Loss of self confidence
Feeling like you are useless
Feeling like your life is meaningless
Feeling like life isn't worth living and you want to die
Feeling like you've wasted your life
Regretting your whole life
Self rejection - you hate who you are and what you have become
The Why is every bodies life better than mine syndrome
The Why doesn't anything I try succeed syndrome
The Why does life always give me the short straw, why are bad things always happening to me syndrome
Constantly feeling tired
Inability to sleep properly
Loss of appetite for food
loss of your sex drive
Loss of motivation for life
The final part of this self help for depression guide is about how to overcome depression.
Depression is primarily to do with how you feel, it is an issue of feelings. When we are talking about overcoming depression, we are talking about how to replace those negative feelings that cause you to feel depressed for positive ones.
Based on my experience of how I was able to beat depression, I want to provide some self help for depression tips and advice. Some of these include things I did to help me overcome depression.
Self help for depression tip 1 - Accept that What has happened has happened.
Being depressed about it isn't going to change it. Getting yourself depressed over a bad situation will only make things worse. When I lost my mum, i had to accept that she was gone, her death came suddenly so it was very painful but I had to get to a place where I realised that all the tears in the world wouldn't bring her back, and feeling lost, hopeless and helpless wasn't going to help me to deal with what had happened.
You can't change what has happened, but you can change your response to it. Accept it, deal with it and move on, don't dwell on it.
Self help for depression tip 2 - you need healthy thought patterns.
Like I stated earlier, depression is triggered by negative thoughts. In the same way depression came through your thoughts, it will also leave through your thoughts, it came through negative thoughts and it will only leave through positive thoughts.
You have to change what you are focusing on. In the case of the death of my mum, I had to move from grieving her loss to celebrating her life, the beautiful memories I have of her, the positive impact she had on me, how her life touched so many people.
You must stop dwelling on what isn't yet right in your life, if you search deeply enough, you will see that there is still beauty in your life, there are still things you can be thankful for no matter how bad the situation you find yourself in is.
For me, I had to find the things that were still good about my life, my Spiritual life, my relationship with my wife who stood by and supported me even when I couldn't provide, my beautiful daughter who is healthy and happy and full of life, I still had a roof over my head, we still had food on the table, yes our situation wasn't our ideal or dream life but we still had had things to be thankful for and in order to overcome my depression, I had to switch my thoughts over to those things that I could be thankful for.
Self help for depression tip 3 - See a therapist and doctor and get medication if necessary.
A lot of people still shy away from getting help from a therapist or counsellor, but sometimes that's what you need to do. You need the help of a professional who can help you deal with the negative emotions you are feeling and shift your thoughts towards more positive things.
I have no shame in saying that I received spiritual counselling to help me cope with my depression. My pastor helped me a great deal to cope with my financial situation as well as the death of my mum.
He helped me to see the brighter side of what I was going through and gave me the encouragement I needed not to give up on life. He also gave me an outlet to talk about my feelings.
You have to be willing to talk about what you are going through, bottling it up will only make it worse, your negative emotions will grow worse and worse and you won't be able to cope and before you know it you'll be jumping in front of a train or overdosing on pills. Please talk to someone, a professional who can help you, don't suffer in silence because of pride.
You don't have to pretend everything is okay when it isn't, there is no shame in reaching out for help.
See a counsellor, a therapist, a doctor - anyone who can help you, for me, I sort spiritual help in church because thats what I believe in, but some people may prefer the help of a doctor who can prescribe medication like anti-depressants. Whatever your preference is, reach out for help.
Do a google search for doctors, therapist, counsellors, or pastors in your area who can give you professional help for overcoming depression.
Self help for depression tip 4 - Find something that excites you, a new trade, a new hobby, an area of passion and pour yourself into it.
Pouring yourself into something your are passionate about can help take your mind off the situation that's causing you to be depressed, it will also serve as an outlet to get rid of the negative energy.
Some people take up boxing and let out their frustration on a punching bag
Some people take up weights and use the gym to let off steam
I personally use music. Playing the drums is the passion I use as my outlet. I remember on the day of my mums funeral, after we left the burial ground we had a small reception for friends and family.
At the reception everyone was still feeling down and crying, so I jumped on the drums and began playing the drums in memory of my mum, as soon as I started playing the whole atmosphere changed, everyone started dancing and it felt like for that moment the pain in their hearts was eased, it also helped me a great deal, it took my mind off feeling depressed that mum was gone and shifted my thoughts towards playing a drum solo that mum would have been proud of looking down on us from heaven.
If the cause if your depression has to do with unemployment and finances, then find a new trade, go and learn a new skill that you can earn money with, one that will excite you, and put all your effort and energy into developing that skill. Not only will it help take your mind off your situation, it will also give you hope for the future that you will be able to stand on your own feet again once you master this skill.
Do a research on trades you can learn, find one that best suites the kind of person you are and go for it. It can be plumbing, carpentry, barbering, building work, painting and decorating, etc
Self help for depression tip 5 - Find strength in Gods word.
If you are a Christian then this point will connect with you. Faith in the word of God (the scriptures in the bible) will help you overcome depression.
This is one of the things that really helped me. I was reminded by my pastor from the word of God (the bible) that God will not give me more than I can bare, that in all things I should give thanks, that the end of a thing is always better than the beginning. I was reminded of the story of Job who went through so many things that could have caused him to be depressed, he lost his wealth, his health, all his children died, but because of his faith in God and in Gods word, he kept his sanity, he didn't lose his mind, he didn't become depressed, he passed the test of faith and God blessed him after his ordeal that he had more than he had previously lost.
The word of God will give you the strength and courage to handle any difficult challenge in your life that's causing you to want to become depressed. If you hold on to Gods promises, then you will overcome.
Self help for depression tip 6 - Talk to someone about the way you feel, don't keep it to yourself.
I have added this one because I know that even though I emphasised the importance of getting professional help, some people will still be reluctant, if that's your case then the least you can do is find a person you trust that you can talk to. Internalising it and not having an outlet will make it worse. Talking to someone who can encourage you will get you to see the brighter side, keeping it to yourself will magnify the negative picture in your head till everything just feels hopeless and life feels like it isn't worth living.
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