–Antara Mal, Counseling Psychologist, BetterLYF
A typical conversation between a therapist and a client who is talking about the symptoms of depression might look like this:
Client (A)- “I think I need a vacation, I am so tired and exhausted with this new job. I mean I was so excited when I applied for this”
Therapist (T)- “Mmm…I can understand the situation.”
A- “You know I just don’t feel like getting up from the bed, it takes so much energy to even do these simple or simplest things.”
T- “Mmm..since when are you feeling this way A?”
A- “I was already feeling this way, I think it was already there, I mean not this intense, but sometimes it came as episodes, but now it’s too much.”
T- “It must be very difficult to deal with this”
A- “Yes, I am not even dealing you know, I have nothing left in me to deal with this situation”
What is depression?
Depression is marked by persistent feelings of sadness, loss of interest which characterizes major depression. The changes are self-esteem, daily behaviour, sleep, and appetite. It affects how a person thinks, feels, behaves which can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.
How difficult is it to deal with depression and why?
Clinical investigation shows that a substantial amount of clients are not satisfied with the result as their expectation is complete remission of the symptoms. Even with depression counselling or online depression therapy, a complete remission of symptoms with no chances of relapse is very difficult. Beck’s cognitive theory states the extreme forms of normal, cognitive, and behavioural functioning of an individual. The crux of the model is that thoughts, feelings, and actions are interrelated. According to him, a depressed adult tends to have negative views in all domains.
Automatically, they become habitual and the individual thinks they are worthless living beings in a futile hopeless world and that is how they introduce themselves to the concept of Learned helplessness. It is a condition when someone repeatedly faces uncontrollable, stressful situations, then does not exercise control when it becomes available. Individuals learn that they are helpless in a particular situation and they no longer try to change the situation even if they can.
Another resistance comes from society, where individuals find it quite difficult to adjust themselves due to the lack of acceptance. Society’s lack of awareness reinforces the individual’s thoughts thus making the treatment more ineffective.
Coping with Depression
Do things that make you feel good– For coping with depression or to deal with depression, one has to do things to relax, and that gives energy. Lack of interest in one’s life tends to intensify the symptoms of depression. Majorly this happens as the person gives up the activities which were meaningful, maintenance of social connections, and boosted one’s self-esteem. Research suggests how behavioural activation can help in coping with depression effectively. The idea behind behavioural activation is that by deliberately practicing certain behaviours, people can “activate” a positive emotional state.
It suggests engaging behaviours that increase pleasurable feelings. For example, hobbies, in small amounts, which elevate the mood. It helps you to be active and reminds you what you value.
Get moving- Are you finding difficulty in getting out of bed? Doing the simplest task is taking out all of your energy? Well, It is absolutely normal to feel this way. However, exercising is considered a great tool in your arsenal to deal with depression. It might seem cumbersome in the beginning, and you might not see instant results, but research shows that regular exercise is very effective in coping with depression.
Exercise helps in the improvement of mood by boosting up energy levels. Rhythmic exercises like swimming, walking, jogging help more as there is an involvement of coordination of hands and legs.
How about teaming up with someone in these exercise sessions? This will help in socializing, motivating each other, and setting some healthy team goals every day. Adding a mindfulness component to the exercise routine can help you focus on your feelings as your body moves. Generally, depressive symptoms stem from negative thoughts, obsessions, and unresolved conflicts. Connecting with your body and understanding it can help us be more aware of our sensations, triggers and thus help us deal with depression in a much more effective way.
Dealing with Negative thoughts- Are you feeling that there is a lot happening out there and you are just sitting there, doing nothing? Hopeless, right? Depression actually puts you in this loop which is absolutely negative. This makes you see yourself from a negative perspective in the present as well as in the future.
While coping with depression, we need to keep in mind that these thoughts are irrational, pessimistic and sometimes they are just overgeneralizations. These are nothing but cognitive distortions which aren’t realistic. Sometimes these thoughts are so ingrained that we don’t even realize their presence. The trick is to identify and realize which thought pattern is triggering the depression which can be done by practising mindfulness. In dealing with these thoughts, they need to be put on the witness stand.
Few questions can help when you encounter these thoughts:
- Is it true in the first place?
- Would I tell the same to my loved ones?
- Can there be any alternative explanation for these thoughts? If yes, then what?
Eating healthy- Our diet is an important component of mental health. Research shows that a healthy diet was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing depressive symptoms. Depression is more typically thought of as strictly biochemical-based or emotionally rooted. While nutrition too plays a role in the onset as well as severity and duration of depression. The easily noticeable food patterns that precede depression are the same as those that occur during depression. These might include loss of appetite, skipping meals, and a strong desire for sweet foods. When you go for depression counselling or online depression therapy to deal with depression, diet is one of the foremost discussions.
Eva Selhub, a mind-body specialist has written an excellent summary on nutritional psychiatry and its benefits for you on her blog. An analysis concludes “A dietary pattern characterized by a high intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grain, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy and antioxidants and low intakes of animal foods was apparently associated with a decreased risk of depression. A dietary pattern characterized by high consumption of red and/or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes, and high-fat gravy, and low intakes of fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of depression.”
Sunlight- Yes!! You read that correctly. When our skin gets a healthy dose of sunlight, we are likely to experience some tangible benefits.
A sunny disposition is not only an expression. Studies show that the intensity of mental health distress increases during the seasons of little sun. Sunshine has a marked impact on our mood. Getting sunshine helps in building the serotonin system and helps in dealing with depression with a combination of other treatments. We already know how our sleep is disturbed when we are depressed. Sunlight being the savior helps in the production of melatonin and serotonin which improves your zzz’s at night which is essential to coping with depression.
Professional help- Sometimes it is better to rely on experts who are trained to help us. Seeking help does not make you weak. Sometimes when we can get stuck in the loop of negative thoughts, it makes us feel lost. However, depression can be treated and one can feel better. Online depression therapy or depression counselling can be one of our go-to resolutions.
Depression counselling or online depression therapy can be beneficial in coping with depression or dealing with depression. Psychotherapy can help in several ways:
- Helps in understanding the events which contribute to depression and finding ways to change, accept or adapt to those situations.
- Setting realistic goals for the future.
- Identifying the distorted thought processes and behaviours that generally contribute to feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and helplessness.
- Teaching new skills and helping the client to cope with symptoms and be more aware of the symptoms of relapse i.e the future episodes of depression.
As Atticus puts it-
“Depression is being colour blind and constantly told how colourful the world is.”
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