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Three Tricks for Coping with Depresssion

By Jeffrey Baumgartner

Depression is a nasty beast that can bring the strongest of us down. If you suffer from occasional depression, it is nothing to be ashamed of. I have had struggles with depression throughout my life, particularly when I was in my 20s, and have come up with a three things that help me cope with depression when it tries to bring me down. I'll get to those in a moment. First, bear in mind that depression covers a wide range of being, from mild melancholia to severe clinical depression. If you are deeply depressed to the point where you can barely get out of bed in the morning, have lost interest in things that typically interest you, are suffering physical ailments related to the depression or have feelings about suicide, stop reading this article now and seek medical help. If you cannot do that, ask a friend, loved one or family member to do it for you.

However, if you suffer from occasional feelings of depression such as these, my suggestions may help.

  1. Feelings of melancholia
  2. Loss of enthusiasm for activities that generally interest you.
  3. Difficulty feeling motivated to get to work in the morning.
  4. Lack of physical energy.
  5. Self-doubts.
  6. Doubts that friends and family care about you.
  7. A sense of "why bother?" about many aspects of life

Acknowledge It's Okay to Feel Depressed

The first thing you need to do is to acknowledge that it is okay to be depressed. It is certainly no fun. It is not something you want. It is not benefiting you much. But it is okay. Acknowledge it. Say, "I am depressed and it is okay." Take it further if need be. "I am [insert favourite obscene language here] depressed and it is okay." Say it again, until you feel it.

Until you acknowledge that you are depressed, but that it is okay to be depressed, it is hard to move on.

2. Treat It Like an Illness

Depression is an illness and should be treated as one. I like to compare it with a nasty cold or flu. When I have a cold, I feel physically bad. I may have headaches, sore throat, a cough, a runny nose and a loss of energy. In the middle of it, I may even wonder if I will ever feel better. But, of course, in a few days the cold is gone.

Look upon your depression as an illness that, like a cold or the flu, will go away in time. You will feel bad for a while, perhaps a few days, perhaps longer. But it will go away and you will start to feel better again.

I find that this mindset of depression being a temporary illness that will slow me down, makes depression a lot easier to cope with.

3. Give Yourself Some Easy Goals

A couple of years ago, an interesting study by the University of Liverpool found that "People with depression tend to pursue generalised goals." A generalised goal is a vague one, such as to be happy or to earn a lot of money. A specific goal would be to "buy a holiday home in Spain".

There are two problems with generalised goals. Firstly, it is hard to know how to go about achieving them and, secondly, it is hard to measure success. Buying a holiday home in Spain, on the other hand is a clear goal and you will know it when you have achieved it.

Not having achieved goals and not being sure how to achieve them can understandably lead a person to believe she is a failure unable to accomplish much of anything. That pretty much describes depression, doesn't it?

So, when you are feeling depressed, try to give yourself some really easy goals, like cleaning the windows, mopping the floor or trimming the hedges. Such tasks are easy to tackle even if you are down, are measurable and are achievable. Once you have finished mopping the floor you can look at it and say, "The floor look much better now." You have achieved your goal. It's not a big, exciting goal. But it is a goal. It was accomplished and you can see the results. I believe you will find this makes you feel just a bit better.

As a bonus, your environment will be cleaner.

No Magic Cure

There is not magic cure for mild depression. However, if you can acknowledge it, accept that it is an illness that you will get over and accomplish one or two very simple goal-oriented tasks when you are down, you should find the depression is easier to cope with. You will find that it is a little easier to get out of be in the morning. You will gain a sense that as with a cold, you will be over this unpleasant state eventually.

That said, and to repeat myself: if you suffer from severe depression or a depression that does not go away, these tips are not enough. Seek help. There are excellent therapies and medications that can help you cope with and overcome persistent and severe depression.

How about you? Have you found any tips to cope with depression that I have not mentioned? If so, share them below or send them to me in a message.

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