In this blog we will discuss some things that you can do if you feel like depression is eating you alive.
Depression is eating me alive: 9 steps you can take to cope
Here are a few things that you can do to help yourself through depression that is eating you alive:
- Seek out medical help
- Seek out professional help
- Educate yourself on the disorder
- Educate yourself about various treatment
- Educate loved ones about depression
- Actively seek positive experiences
- Focus on self care
- Join a support group
- Try mindfulness
Seek out medical help
The first thing that you can do if you have depression or feel like your depression is eating your life or hampering your quality of life is to go see your doctor- general physician or a psychiatrist.
Usually when you meet your doctor, they will do a general assessment and direct you to a psychiatrist or give you the medication you need as well as refer you to a therapist.
Talk to your doctor about your symptoms as honestly as possible and work with them to come up with a treatment plan with them.
When they prescribe you medication, make an effort to give them feedback as often as possible about the dosage and the side effects as well to ensure effective treatment.
Seek out professional help
We also advise you to seek out professional help immediately since depression is not just low moods, it won’t simply “go away”.
There needs to be an active effort to work through your condition as well as pharmacological support that you might need in the case there are neurological causes to your condition.
Talking to a therapist and engaging with them to understand what is happening to you does not mean that you have failed in life. It simply means that you need help like everyone else and that does not make you any less of a person.
Your therapist will help you understand what is happening to you, might prescribe you medication if needed, and can help you tap into your own strengths that can help you adapt to challenges, changes, and overcome them.
Understanding your condition, diagnosis and Engaging with a therapist, being diligent with your medication, and making the changes you need to make to get better will help you during this difficult time.
Educate yourself on the disorder
It is very important that you educate yourself about your condition. Your doctor or psychiatrist might give you some materials however, it is also important that you do some independent study on your own too.
You can consider reading materials online or talking to your therapist in more depth as well as joining seminars and group meetings to learn about the disorder as well as the various things that you can do to manage depression.
Educate yourself about treatment options
Educate yourself about various treatment options for depression that you can discuss with your doctor.
Educating yourself about treatment conditions can also provide you with the ability to have a say about your own treatments as well as the option for you to switch treatments if one does not work.
As of recent years the various treatments for depression include:
- Medications prescribed by a physician such as Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), Tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, Noradrenaline and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
Each of these medications have potential side effects and should be taken under clear tested diagnosis and guidance of a medical professional.
- Psychotherapy also known as talk therapy involves effective treatment where a person with disorder speaks to a trained therapist to help them identify and cope with their condition.
Psychotherapy has many forms and techniques, which might take some time for a person with disorders to figure out what is best for them, However evidence suggests that CBT is one of the most effective treatments for depression.
- Combined treatment of psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals have been found to be more effective than either stand-alone treatments for MDD.
- Light therapy is a form of treatment used in tandem with psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals where people are exposed to doses of white light in the face of major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns.
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used for people with severe depression and as a last resort when other forms of treatment have not worked out. Here, people with depression are treated with electrical currents that induce seizures, which has been found to be helpful for clinical depression. However, like other treatments, this form also has various side effects.
- Alternative therapies alongside traditional psychotherapy and medication such as meditation for stress and anxiety can help reorient patterns of responses to depression triggers. Acupuncture is also another form of alternative therapies for depression.
Educate loved ones about depression
Making the decision to talk to people in your life about your depression is a big step and it is very important to know that you do not have to talk about it if you do not want to.
However, if you have decided that you are ready to share your experiences and your condition with other people, you might also have to educate them about it.
When it comes to sharing it with your loved ones, you can bring it up when they notice a change in your behaviour and explain what it is. This can give an opening for the conversation about your condition.
When you talk to your friends and others about it, you might have to start by asking if they know any one with depression so that you can understand how they feel about it and if you are comfortable talking to them about it.
Actively seek positive experiences
According to positive psychology research, positive feelings are an important aspect of well-being. For a person to engage in activities and other experiences that help them feel positive feelings such as love, belongingness, achievement, and a sense of hope is important.
Take active action to seek out these positive experiences in your day to day life. Even if you do not want to, even if your body is refusing to- take that chance for yourself and choose to do something that makes you feel less miserable.
This could be as simple as watching a movie, petting your cat, taking your dog for a walk, eating ice cream. Do what makes you happy without judging yourself for these choices.
Focus on self-care
While it might be hard to take care of yourself- you might find it hard to eat, wash, wake up, and do other basic things.
It is okay to allow yourself to let yourself go for a few days but making the effort to stick to routine and structure in your day to day life can help you move forward.
Taking care of your physical needs is very important as it is a way to care for yourself. Taking care of your emotional needs is also important and you can work towards emotional self care after taking care of your physical needs first.
Once you feel like you are up for it, take time to seek out support from your friends, family, and loved ones. Positive relationships are also important for wellbeing.
Talk to them about how you are feeling, allow them to get distracted while doing fun things together. Let them provide you company when you do not want to be alone- take effort to reach out to them.
Allow yourself to feel loved by people who genuinely care for you and seek out new meaning from these positive and healthy relationships.
You can choose to make new changes that help you feel better or healthier like going to the gym, changing your diet to a more healthy one, going for wants. Sometimes change in routines can also be your way of caring for yourself.
Join a support group
Another thing you can do for yourself is to join a support group of people struggling with depression so that you can experience emotional support first hand within these communities and over time learn how to manage your challenges by learning from each other.
It is possible that people with depression can also struggle with a sense of worthlessness, a feeling that you have nothing of value to offer.
By joining a group that is open, empathetic, and growing towards healing, you and your experiences can be an excellent sense of support to someone else who is also in their early part of their journey.
Mindfulness, or paying attention to the here-and-now can keep your mind present and away from various preoccupations you might have or negative thoughts you might be ruminating over.
To start being more mindful, you can choose activities that you do during your daily life. By paying attention to what you say to yourself or by paying attention when you are doing certain tasks.
Being mindful means being present and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. It means being able to walk yourself through what you are doing, thinking, and feeling rather than it being an automatic process.
You can choose to practice deep breathing, yoga, meditate, or do body scans in a meditative and relaxed state to bring your body and mind to a state of awareness and being rather than be stuck in a loop of irrational ruminations.
In this blog we have discussed some things that you can do if you feel like depression is eating you alive.
FAQ related to Depression is eating me alive: What should I do?
Is there such a thing as depression eating?
Yes, depression eating refers to emotional eating where one indulges in food and binge eats as an attempt to numb sad, hopeless feelings.
Does depression make you not take care of yourself?
Yes, depression can make you not care about yourself and can lead to neglect of self care, grooming, diet, even lead an individual to engage in risky behaviours such as drinking, speed driving etc as a way to cope with their feelings of deadness and numbness.
Can depression make you lose appetite?
Yes, depression can make you lose appetite as well as make you lose the motivation to eat. It can lead to severe weight loss as well due to loss of appetite.
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
Higuera. V, Everything You Need to Know About Depression (Major Depressive Disorder), Healthline, November 16th, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression
Christy Heitger-Ewing. Clinical Depression: The Silent, Soul-Crushing Killer That Claims Lives Daily. HuffPost. Retrieved on 28th March 2022. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/clinical-depression-the-s_b_8244790
How to Avoid a Soul-Crushing Life Crisis. TinyBuddha. Retrieved on 28th March 2022. https://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-avoid-a-soul-crushing-life-crisis/