Restarting Your life after depression (Top 5 tips)

You find yourself on the road to recovery after your diagnosis. You meet your weekly goals and find yourself indulging in small joys. Filled with hope, you are faced with the question of ‘How can I restart my life?’

Before we jump into the hows, it is important to remember that starting over is never easy. As you figure out life after depression, mindfulness of your pace and kindness towards yourself are two things that can make this journey easier. 

What does life after depression mean?

A study conducted on 2500 individuals with MDD, 39% of whom recovered with full mental health defines recovery and complete mental health as:

the absence of mental illness, substance abuse, or suicidal ideation in the past year; 

happiness or life satisfaction almost every day/past month, and 

social and psychological well-being.

The researchers stress the fact that life after depression or recovery is not just a diminution of symptoms but it also involves 

  • Engaging in activities that bring joy
  • Engaging in social responsibilities and maintaining relationships
  • Ability to regulate thoughts, emotions, and behavior.
  • Experiencing life satisfaction
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Stress Management 
  • Striving for Achievement

How does one restart life after depression?

Using these four milestones, you can set the tone with which you can restart your life to not only survive and sustain your recovery but also to flourish and cultivate personal well-being.

Do things that bring you joy.

Indulge in simple activities that bring you happiness, it could be treating yourself with an ice cream, a spa day, watching your favorite cartoon. Research has found that positive emotions such as happiness and joy are related to higher levels of well-being. So give yourself a moment in your day to mindfully engage in things that build positive emotion in you. One way you can cultivate positive emotions is by meditating on the things that you are grateful for. Positive Psychology research finds that Gratitude is the highest emotion linked to well-being.

Build Bridges

Once the brain fog related to depression clears you will find that your relationships have also been impacted. You will find that there are some few souls who have made an effort to understand and stand by you. Restarting your life also includes reconnecting with people you trust and love. You can begin reestablishing the bond you share by making an effort to meet them, call them, even email them- the people that bring a positive impact into your life. Positive relationships have been found to be connected to wellbeing and resilience.

The mindful practice of self-regulation

Restarting your life after depression will demand mindful living. This involves taking notice of your thoughts, your emotions, and behavior with purposeful intent to keep it in the present. It also means mindful kindness towards yourself and taking notice of our strengths and limitations. One of the ways to practice self regulation is by setting small daily goals for yourself with mindful understanding of your capacity. Meditation, a mindfulness practice, has also been found to be related to flourishing after recovery from mental disorders.

Creating Meaning for Life satisfaction

Research revealed that an individual’s creation of meaning is a predictor of life satisfaction. Meaning can be defined in many ways but an overall understanding of meaning in positive psychology is connecting our existence to something greater than ourselves- this is also related to purpose. 

Making effort to reevaluate our lives and engage in activities and with relationships that bring meaning allows for the experience of life satisfaction in retrospect according to positive psychology researchers. 

This will call for an effort to not only survive after recovery from depression but rather to engage in finding personal meaning as your restart your life. One must remember that much like one’s experience of depression and other mental disorders is personal, so is one’s understanding of meaning in life. 

For example, while devoting in ones spirituality can be meaningful to someone, spending time to create music could be meaning to someone else.

Making changes and ditching habits

Here, we are talking about lifestyle changes such as changes in diets that are nutritious and sustaining. New research has found connection between mood and food, citing that mediterranean diets tend to be connected to better mental well being as compared to western diets. 

Ditching habits such as smoking, drinking, and other forms of substance will also be part of one’s journey into living a thriving life. Active efforts to maintain optimal sleep hygiene will also help improve mood while poor sleep is found to have an immense negative impact on wellbeing.

Setting your sights higher

Studies have shown that a sense of accomplishment is an important element in developing positive well-being over time as it has more value than completing tasks with no personal value

Restarting life after recovering from mood disorders such as depression can also involve revisiting what you want to accomplish academically or in your personal relationships, or even in your career. Striving to progress may start with small goals such as updating your resume, applying for jobs that are considerate of your wellbeing, or reapplying for colleges, or re-submitting your essays.

 Research finds that completing tasks that are of personal value and achieving goals that allows you to progress in life involves instilling positive emotions such as hope into our lives which can be a large influence on our perspective of life. 

While setting your sights higher it is important to remember to be mindful of your pace and set goals that are realistic and achievable. 

Restarting your life after depression will not happen overnight, it is not a one-time investment rather recovery from depression is a long-term investment into yourself. Putting effort into areas and milestones mentioned above can help smoothen the transition from living life passively to engaging and flourishing.

Frequently Asked questions about “How to Restart Life after depression?”

How do I start over after a mental breakdown?

There are many ways to start over after a mental breakdown, here are some points from bridges to recovery:

  • Life styles changes- reduce stress and overwhelming aspects of your life
  • Eat healthy and maintain optimal sleep schedule
  • Reduce or stop substance intake
  • Practice relaxation and meditation
  • Remove or change the stress causing issue
  • Spend more time doing things you enjoy.

Do you ever fully recover from a nervous breakdown?

According to Healthdirect, a full recovery from a nervous breakdown is possible. Depending on the severity, treatment can include therapy and/or medication, lifestyle changes, and resilience building.

Does depression damage your brain permanently?

Changes in brain size and functioning is also found to be related to depression. ScienceNordic explored research that found that there was a reduction of brain functioning leading to memory loss and reduction in the size of the hippocampus including neural network of the brain.

How long does it take to fully recover from a mental breakdown?

Research found that the average length taken my patients to recover was 10 days however, it depends on the severity of the episode. For some it may take a few days while for others a few weeks. 

Is there a real cure for depression?

Depression can be treated, and symptoms can be managed but depression cannot be “cured.” Article at Healthline stated that for most treatments, remission is the goal and it varies for each person- some may have recurring symptoms while others may have to live with impaired functioning with risk of recurrence.

Is there an end to depression?

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is potentially a long-term or even lifelong illness for many patients with high risk to relapse. There is no definite end rather individuals with depression will have to engage in maintenance therapy designed to prevent relapse in patients remission. 

How to live with depression?

According to various research articles, living or coping with depression involves effort to bring life style changes and engage in positive behaviour. Some of them include the following:

  • Strong support systems, either family who can help coping with emotions, friends, or community support groups
  • Reducing stress or removing stressors by either changing lifestyle, ending unhealthy relationships, or using de-stressing techniques
  • Optimal sleep
  • Healthy eating
  • Cognitive regulation of negative thoughts
  • Creating space for rest and fun

Can Depression Go Away on Its Own?

The answer to this question depends on the type, cause, and severity of the depressive episode. In each case, it will require some form of intervention- either by a professional or from a support group (depending on the severity of the episode) to overcome symptoms of depression.

How to reconnect with friends after depression?

One of the first things you can do is make an effort to reach out to them and explain what you are struggling with and how it has been impacting your friendship. People who choose to understand and support you will stick by you which others may not and to those people you let them go even if it might mean losing a close friend. 

Reconnecting with friends will also involve making effort to spend time with them, it is important to set boundaries that will help you make the best out of your friendships this means knowing how much emotional energy to invest in certain relationships and being able to communicate what you can and cannot invest in the relationship, coming to a mutual agreement of needs, wants and how to meet them.

How do I find meaning with depression?

Finding meaning involves two things: 

Understanding your value and what you value 

Focusing on others. 

Creating meaning may require you to take stock of what is valuable to you and what are the things you hold close to your heart. It will also mean taking stock of your strengths and the things you can offer to the larger world. 

While it is difficult to imagine spending emotional and mental resources on the larger world while struggling with depression, understanding what you can invest in can help you set boundaries. Focusing on others will involve helping others, giving back to those in need of support, being there for others like they have been there for you, doing something for the greater good can be some things that create meaning out of your existence by highlighting what is good in you and what value you bring to this world.

What activity is good for depression?

Some activities to alleviate symptoms of depression include 

  • Taking a walk
  • Gardening
  • Spending time with family in joint activities like playing board games
  • Painting
  • Listening to music
  • Reading 

Each of these activities should be things that you enjoy and can engage to bring you positive emotions and engagement.

Is exercise the best cure for depression?

Research has found that regular exercise can improve your mood if you have mild to moderate depression. Exercises can be of any type, from running to yoga as long as it is something you enjoy so as to maintain motivation.

Setting small realistic goals to start with, one can engage in exercise as simple as walking for 10 mins a day and gradually progress to more challenging exercises. 

References:

Verywellmind.com

Sagepub.com

Healthline.com

ScienceNordic.com

Healthdirect.com

Alkozei, A., Smith, R., & Killgore, W. D. (2018). Gratitude and subjective wellbeing: A proposal of two causal frameworks. Journal of Happiness Studies, 19(5), 1519-1542.

Firth, J., Gangwisch, J. E., Borisini, A., Wootton, R. E., & Mayer, E. A. (2020). Food and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing?. bmj, 369.

Fredrickson, B. L., & Joiner, T. (2002). Positive emotions trigger upward spirals toward emotional well-being. Psychological science, 13(2), 172-175.

Fuller-Thomson E, Agbeyaka S, LaFond DM, Bern-Klug M. Flourishing after depression: Factors associated with achieving complete mental health among those with a history of depression. Psychiatry Res. 2016 Aug 30;242:111-120. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.04.041.

Hoffman, C. (2010). Does mindfulness increase wellbeing?. Journal of Holistic Healthcare, 7(1), 45.

Noble, T., & McGrath, H. (2012). Wellbeing and resilience in young people and the role of positive relationships. In Positive relationships (pp. 17-33). Springer, Dordrecht.

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