Living with clinical depression can make the holiday season – especially New Year’s celebrations, incredibly difficult. While all of your friends and family members are making resolutions for the new year and are getting excited about the experiences to come, you may feel overwhelmed by the idea of having to struggle through another year with crippling depression.
Beating Depression This Year
It’s very common to desire to treat depression quickly and efficiently. You may even be thinking, “I’m going to beat depression in 2018!”. While it makes sense to want to quickly get rid of your depression symptoms, it’s important to be realistic and patient. Depression is a serious and genuine illness that takes time to treat. You may have to try several different treatment plans before you find the one that works best for you. Depression is also a chronic illness, which means that you will likely need to manage the symptoms for a lifetime. Instead of focusing on “curing” your depression this year, focus on taking steps to manage your illness and to take care of yourself the best you are able.
Consider the following goals for the new year:
Depression can make it difficult to complete even the most basic tasks, like getting out of bed, getting dressed, and getting out the door each day. This year, try to make a concerted effort to participate in just a few self-care items every day. Committing to taking a shower, brushing your teeth, getting dressed for the day, and going to work or even a local coffee shop can be hugely beneficial when you’re trying to manage symptoms of depression. Chronic depression can cause you to stop participating in these basic care tasks because they can seem too draining to complete. However, patients who can encourage themselves to engage in self-care each day discover that they are better able to take on the day and benefit accomplishing something each day. Feel free to start small, and gradually build into a complete self-care routine. You’ll be glad you did!
Separate Yourself from Your Illness
Living with clinical depression can be overwhelming, and the intense symptoms can be crippling. You may feel like you are no longer yourself. You may not recognize yourself because of the constant, pervasive, negative thoughts you experience and your newfound general apathy about life. It’s important to remind yourself that you are NOT your illness. The feelings and thoughts you are experiencing are undoubtedly miserable but aren’t a reflection of your true self, and definitely, don’t have to be permanent. Consider starting a daily reflection journal practice. Journalling is valuable because it allows you to observe the intrusive, negative thoughts and feelings you may be experiencing and helps you to recognize that you are separate from these thoughts and feelings. Remember that while depression can feel life-consuming, with treatment and support, you can reclaim your life.
Depression, like any other chronic illness, requires support from family, friends, and professionals. It can be easy to want to stay isolated from loved ones and professionals to avoid having to share your feelings of depression. It can feel embarrassing or overwhelming to have to discuss how you are experiencing life. However, staying connected to a therapist, psychiatrist, friends and loved ones is essential to obtaining the tools necessary to live with depression and to not be consumed by it. This year, be sure to connect with people you trust. Remember that you are in charge of your relationships and health care. You are allowed to schedule a consultation with a variety of practitioners before committing to one and you have the right to maintain relationships with only the family and friends who are supportive.
Think Outside the Box
For some individuals suffering from chronic depression, traditional therapies, such as counseling and antidepressants, are effective. However, some people find that additional, alternative treatments provide more significant relief. There are hundreds of different alternative treatment options to consider, including:
Nutritional Therapy: The Standard American Diet (SAD) is ridden with additives and sugars that may impact your ability to regulate your mood. Consider working with a dietician or nutritionist this year to formulate an optimized diet that works for your needs.
Novel Drug Therapy: New prescription drugs are regularly emerging for the management of treatment-resistant depression. For example, Ketamine, an FDA-approved drug previously only known for its aesthetic properties, has been found to provide immediate and significant relief of acute depression symptoms and thoughts of suicide. Your psychiatrist may have additional information about innovative treatment options. Be sure to ask your doctor, if you are interested, to discuss cutting-edge treatment options for depression.
Eastern Medicine: Western medical wisdom provides a significant amount of insight into how the human mind functions, but additional Eastern treatment practices have been found to help provide relief to individuals suffering from depression. Acupuncture, acupressure, Ayurveda, and other homeopathic treatment options may help you to manage your mental health. Practitioner availability varies depending on where you are located, but a quick Google search will help you find the alternative medicine practitioners in your area.
Living with depression isn’t easy.
It can be very tempting to plan to kick your depression to the curb this year. However, it’s a much more successful decision to take reasonable steps to manage your illness and understand that symptoms may ebb and flow during your lifetime. Regardless of where you are in your depression management process, remember to be gentle with yourself this holiday season, and remember that each small step you take to manage your depression is a step towards lasting happiness!
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