In this blog, we will discuss a few steps that you can take to help yourself through soul-crushing depression.
We will also briefly discuss what depression is and what are the treatments available for depression.
How to help yourself through soul-crushing depression?
Here are a few things that you can do to help yourself through soul crushing depression:
Seek out professional help
If you have been depressed for more than two weeks and it is impacting your other relationships and your professional life, we advise you to seek out professional help immediately.
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.
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 yoru 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.
Spend time with friends
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.
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.
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.
What is Depression?
Depression or clinically known as major depressive disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders, is a serious mood disorder where people affected by it experience persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
Apart from these symptoms of emotional distress, people with depression can also experience physical symptoms such as chronic pain, or changes in their behaviour such as social withdrawal or slowed movements.
For someone to be diagnosed with clinical depression, symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Let us look at the various symptoms that must meet the criteria for a diagnosis of depression.
The Diagnostic and statistical manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed) DSM-V outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression.
The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.
These symptoms should indicate change from normal functioning.
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day- either by their own observation or observation made by others.
- Diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
- Insomnia or hypersomnia.
- A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
To be diagnosed with depression, these symptoms must cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
These symptoms should also not be the result of substance abuse or another medical condition.
What are the treatments for depression?
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.
In this blog we have discussed a few steps that you can take to help yourself through soul crushing depression.
We have also briefly discussed what depression is and what are the treatments available for depression.
FAQ related to How to help yourself through soul crushing depression?
Is depression an emotional factor?
Depression does have an emotional factor since it is considered a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and guilt, as well as hopelessness and worthlessness.
Is there a connection between depression and other disorders?
Yes, Clinical depression has been linked to other mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders, panic disorder, social phobia, and generalised anxiety disorder.
What causes depression in the brain?
One of the main factors that lead to depression in terms of neurobiology is the reduced levels of certain brain chemicals as well as faulty mood regulation by the brain. People with depression have been found to have lower levels of serotonin, dopamine in the brain as well as structural abnormalities related to mood regulation.
How does depression affect the brain?
Depression, research finds, does impact the structure of the brain- in terms of grey matter. Research has found that prolonged depression can lead to a reduction in grey matter volume due to shrinkage which can cause difficulty concentrating and memory loss, and difficulty in completing tasks.
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/