TAKE ACTION N O W: (de)pression

In my first clinical interview with D., she told me that she had been diagnosed with Major Clinical Depression. As we were discussing her symptoms, she told me that the hardest thing when dealing with depression is to do something about it. I humbly disagreed. Through my clinical experience, I realized that the hardest step is the preceding one: taking the decision to do something about it before you do it. 

Statistically speaking, you will notice that people experiencing depression have a thinking pattern that leads to a one-way road. Why? Because for them is an all-or-nothing situation. What they end up doing is overwhelming themselves by trying to tackle all symptoms at the same time, until they realize that treatment doesn’t work that way and conclude that nothing works.   

Usually, the easiest way is to take care of your diet. By diet, I mean by having proper nutrition and a meal plan designed by a professional dietician. Food can be measurable; hence, it gives you a sense of control and tames your discipline. Considering that serotonin, plays a major role in depression and is produced in our gut, proper nutrition may lessen the intensity of your symptoms.  

Regarding your sleep, firstly you can take care of external factors that may contribute to the quality of your sleep or help you fall asleep (e.g., the room temperature, comfortable bed and pillow, no screen time, happy thoughts, and dim or no lights). Additionally, you can exercise to get physically tired, and increase your endorphin levels which consequently will make you feel good. Remember to take deep breaths and most importantly force yourself to have a set time for your sleep, so that it becomes a habit.   

In order to get rid of the symptoms, the solution is to change the way you think, since your thinking pattern is also a consequence and a cause of depression. The first step is to recognize that the way you perceive things is based on inflexible and dogmatic rules. These are usually easily recognizable when they are followed with phrases like “have to,” “need to,” and “must.” These little words lead to irrational conclusions and beliefs that are not based on reality-based evidence and make unsupported predictions (e.g., you can overcome the situation, but it won’t have the same meaning, or it will be worthless, or even conclude that you cannot overcome the situation). Consequently, this approach encourages you to construct a false reality where you may feel angry, hurt and demotivated about the future. 

There is an assumption that what is considered simple is also easy. In this case, it is most definitely not, so be patient with yourself. Realizing that you go through a phase where you mostly feel negative, it is understandable to wonder where’s the power to elevate yourself. It is even harder to accept and change the habit of your thinking pattern and take responsibility for your feelings. Nevertheless, with the right guidance, once you realize your power and how you used to sabotage yourself, you will understand that you have the tools to make this negativity a choice.