A feeling of hopelessness and helplessness is a symptom of depression. What you are thinking, may not be a reality so don’t buy into the voices in your head that tell you
- that you are not worth living
- that you are worthless
- that you are nothing.
Do something about it NOW- it is absolutely treatable. Treatment for depression in the short and long term looks very different from patient-to-patient. It all depends on the severity of the illness.
For example- if you are biologically more predisposed (it runs in your family) or you might have had some vulnerability for eg-early childhood traumas, abuse, ability to be resilient might have been comprised
Even though you may have a strong biological disposition (like it runs in your family) which may mean that you will have more depressive episodes , you can learn to manage them better.
There are lots of things you can do to decrease the severity/duration of the episode-
Taking Medication if needed
A lot of people are hesitant to take medication or continue with their medication worrying about side effects. Please do not start or stop the medication prescribed before consulting with your psychiatrist or doctor first. Also, you may be doing better because you are on the medication – so don’t think its time for me to stop now before consulting with your doctor.
When you have had multiple episodes of depression, it means you may be required to remain on your prescribed medication. If the treatment you have been doing is working why change it? Why fix it if it ain’t broke as the saying goes.
If you find that therapy and other modalities can be helpful and you can probably manage your life without medication, you can check with your doctor to find alternatives However, don’t beat yourself up if you need to be on medication to function optimally. Note: Be careful about taking over the counter supplements you might consider safe and herbal e.g.- St Johns Wart, Gingko Biloba ( not FDA approved)- they may react with the medication you are on.
Finding a Therapist
Find yourself a good therapist. Do your research on the therapist- look at different therapies offered that may work for you. For eg- Research on CBT ( cognitive behaviour therapy) or DBT ( Dialectical behaviour therapy) Make sure you find a therapist who is the right fit for you( just like you would for a life partner)- don’t feel stuck just because you have been with them for a long time.
Create your Distress Tolerance Toolkit
Make sure you have a go-to toolkit of coping mechanisms. Recognise what makes you feel good ( eg- a warm bath, foot massages, working out, walking in nature, having a friend you can go with /to rant with, yoga class, meditation, listening to uplifting music)
Avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms when you don’t feel good- ( like drinking alcohol)
Stay in the Present Moment
Avoid ruminating about the past or worrying about the future- this tends to cause regret and anxiety taking you on a downward spiral. (Read the book by Jon Kabat-Zinn- Wherever you go, There you are)
Avoid Unfair comparisons
We compare our insides with other people’s outsides- when you watch other people’s posts on social media, you think others have these happy perfect lives unlike yours which tend to make us feel worse. Know that what you see may not necessarily be true. Avoid comparing your life with anyone else.
3 Tips to help a Depressed loved one
- Give the person hope- normalise it and let them know that it is absolutely treatable ( there is light at the end of the tunnel).
- Offer your help and offer support- Do the research and help them find the right therapist. Go with them for their first appointment if needed.
- Be there for them- Don’t give up on them so easily. Ask them what do they enjoy doing? When was the last time they did it and then do it together
Note Recognise that you may need self-care and protection too. A healthy balance is needed between being there and moving away when you start to feel depressed or helpless yourself. There is something called the Stress Contagion (stress is contagious- when you are around others who have stressful experiences, their stress affects you physiologically) We feel what the other person is feeling because of empathy- so if you are depressed, I feel depressed too- the best thing you can do, is to get them the right help/provider that they need.
Prevention is better than cure
Why wait till things break and we need to fix them. Why can’t we prevent depression? We need to talk about holistic and natural treatments. Loneliness is one big problem we are facing in the world today which leads to so many suicides. We need the support system- we don’t live in joint families anymore. We are not appreciating our hard wired nature of living in communities and needing social connection and help one another. Our fundamental nature, we will cause ourselves more harm. There is still a stigma to depression still and people don’t reach out to get the help they need.
A longevity study by Harvard concluded that the following help people to live a longer and happier life
- A Sense of Mastery in Life- finding something that is meaningful to you – you engaged in to and in a state of low e.g.- playing golf, reading, dancing, learning languages
- Altruism-Giving back- reaching out and giving
- Exercise- do it in a way that you are accountable for it and you enjoy
- Therapy- talk to a professional who can help
- Eating right and mindfully- reduce inflammation of the brain
- Sleep is key
- Being part of a Community ( to combat loneliness)
- Mindful meditation- real structural changes in the brain happens- grey matters increases, hippocampus ( learning and memory) increases, amygdala ( fear centre)shrinks
Please NOTE: This article provides a starting point to understand depressive symptoms but the resources provided in this article are not a substitute for treatment from a medical professional. If you are suffering from depression or know someone who is, we recommend you seek help.
You can reach out and get help here:
Open Counselling’s list of International Suicide and Emergency Hotlines
This article provides a starting point to understand depressive symptoms but please note: resources provided in this article are not a substitute for treatment from a medical professional. If you are suffering from depression or know someone who is, we recommend you seek help. Guidance is provided at the end of this article..com/suicide-hotlines
Resources are listed by country, and you can click on the ‘more hotlines’ and ‘in-person counselling’ tabs to get further help.
List of suicide prevention lines: