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Dealing with Depression

Depression is more than being “down in the dumps”. Dealing with depression can feel like falling deeper and deeper into a dark hole, and not knowing how to get out. Many people may not even realize they are struggling with depression until they slow down and notice how far down that hole they really are. 

Depression is a clinical diagnosis, meaning that someone is typically diagnosed with depression by a psychiatrist, psychologist, or general practitioner. In some cases, medication may be prescribed, but regardless, Psychotherapy is almost always part of the treatment plan. Anyone can suffer from depressive symptoms, but the duration and severity of the symptoms usually determine whether a clinical diagnosis is given or not. Symptoms are something to discuss further with your practitioner and psychotherapist, but common symptoms can be found here: 

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/what-is-depression

Steps for dealing with depression:

Whether clinically diagnosed or not, depressive symptoms can feel extremely overwhelming and leave you feeling hopeless. In addition to psychotherapy and seeking professional help, here are a few ways to begin dealing with the symptoms of depression:

Get Back To Basics:

When dealing with depression, even the smallest tasks can feel overwhelming and exhausting. Taking care of yourself is (and should always be) your top priority, now more than ever. Ensure you are getting proper nutrition and adequate sleep (not too little, not too much), and are spending time doing leisurely activities and being around loved ones. These steps can feel difficult to achieve, so start small. Setting one small goal a day can also help create a healthier routine, provide structure, and increase motivation.

Be Gentle With Yourself:

It’s easy to forget that what we believe “should” be simple is being hindered by what depression is putting your body through. If you had a physical illness you wouldn’t judge yourself for not having the energy to do your normal day-to-day activities – mental health needs to be thought of in the same way. As we heal from a physical illness, we accept and understand that it takes time for our energy to get back to normal levels, but we often don’t give ourselves the same grace with mental health issues, and instead come down harder on ourselves, making it more difficult to get out of that depressive hole.

Practice Mindfulness:

When dealing with depression, it can feel difficult to stop thinking about the past or worrying about the future. One of the best ways to navigate this hurdle is through mindfulness for the present moment. Mindfulness can be practiced in many different ways, so find the technique that works best for you. The goal is to get the mind into the present moment and away from the past to help increase hope in an otherwise hopeless mindset. Here are some great mindfulness activities to try out:

https://www.healthline.com/health/mind-body/mindfulness-activities#for-adults

Play The Opposite Game:

It’s true that we can trick our minds into feeling or thinking a certain way. Just as you may have had a negative voice in your head for years telling you, “You aren’t good enough, or doing enough”, that same voice you have been believing for years, can eventually become a much kinder and more productive voice. 

If that negative voice (or that inner critic as we call it) would rather lay in bed all day thinking about the past and making negative comments about you, the best thing to do is the exact opposite of what it wants. The opposite action here would be to get out of bed, make your bed and go for a short walk around the block. If that negative voice is telling you that “going to that dinner with friends won’t be fun” prove it wrong. Maybe it won’t be fun, but maybe it won’t be so bad.

Find A Therapist:

Depression can feel extremely lonely – like no one understands. Talking about it with a professional can provide clarity and hope for the future. A therapist can help set you up with an attainable routine and practical strategies to improve your mood. When you are deep down that dark hole, a therapist can be the one to hand you the ladder, a light, and some tools, and help you climb out. 

“I have depression. But I prefer to say, ‘I battle’ depression instead of ‘I suffer’ with it. Because depression hits, but I hit back. Battle on.” — Anonymous

Picture of Mackenzie Stanke
Mackenzie Stanke

Mackenzie works with clients with anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues using CBT and Person Centered methods to create a safe space for her clients to express themselves and heal. In her free time she can be found shopping for new home decor, cooking and going on long walks with her partner and her dog Lexi.

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Searchlight Counselling provides in-person and virtual therapy for individuals and couples in Burnaby, Vancouver, and across British Columbia. Specializing in BIPOC & 2SLGBTQIA+.