We are not our depression, although it may feel that we are at times. When my depressive symptoms were at their worst I reached out for professional medical help and also spiritual guidance. Through this process I learned under each symptom or uncomfortable depressive feeling there is a need asking to be met. Learning which need I can fulfill on my own with learned skills and which one’s require help from others and outside resources both help me to live a meaningful and manageable life in recovery.
For most people, some combination of lifestyle changes, therapy, medication, and support is helpful for treating depression. Some of these are more effective than others for certain people. It may take some time to discover what works for you, but it is worth it to help you feel better.
Many habits can impact your mental health. Making sure you get regular sleep, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly can help a lot. Some people benefit from reducing or eliminating the use of caffeine, alcohol, or drugs. Meditation, yoga, and spiritual practices can be helpful as well. Pay attention to simple things, like taking time to take care of yourself, trying activities you enjoy, and spending time with people or environments where you feel supported.
Therapy can be a great way to change behaviors, gain confidence, learn new skills, and talk with someone openly and honestly. There are many different types of therapy. Most therapists use multiple techniques, depending on the needs of the person they’re working with. The most common type of therapy for depression is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In CBT, a therapist helps you examine your thoughts and beliefs and how these influence your behavior.
It’s important to find support from others. This can come through family, friends, professionals, or support groups. Support groups are made up of individuals with similar experiences, who meet regularly to discuss their experiences. Talking to people who are going through the same things can make you feel less alone and more connected. It also creates a space where people can share what has worked for them and talk through their struggles with people who understand.
It’s okay to take medication even if you have to take it for a long time. It doesn’t mean that you are any less of a person, just take care of yourself and do what your doctors tell you. You can and will get better.
Another option is to take medications. Medications that treat depression are called antidepressants, and there are many different kinds. Medications affect everyone differently, so not every medication will work well for you, and many of them will have side effects. You’ll need to work with your doctor to find a medication that works for you. It’s also common to take multiple medications, to target different symptoms or to counteract side effects.
When medication treatments don’t work, people can explore the use of device-based treatments for depression. These treatments include Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), or Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES). Some of these procedures are done in a hospital under the care of a doctor. CES is used at home and is a small device. You’ll have to check with your insurance company if any of these treatments are covered.