By Dr. Foojan Zeine, Psychotherapist, Speaker, Author, and Host of “Inner Voice” on KMET1490AM & ABC Radio,
Depression is on the rise. 300 million people around the world have depression, according to the World Health Organization. 16.2 million adults in the United States—equaling 6.7 percent of all adults in the country—have experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. A survey done by Pew Research Center, found that most U.S. teens see Anxiety and Depression as a major problem among their peers. Another report released by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association reported depression diagnoses up 33% overall and 47% among Millennials.
Factors can range from situational loss of an intimate relationship, health, job, or a loved one; school pressure; peer pressure; bullying; phase of life changes; immigration and acculturation process; financial hardship; current or past trauma; domestic violence; drugs and alcohol abuse, dependency, or addiction; to lifelong chronic condition that would require medical management.
It is important for you to become aware of the symptoms and the cause of your depression.
Depression is a state which includes feeling sad most of the time during the day, feeling helpless and/or hopeless, changes in your eating and sleeping habits, lack of finding meaning and purpose in activities and life in general, lack of experiencing pleasure, holding negative view about yourself and people in general.
How can you take care of yourself? First by noticing your thoughts, emotions and behavior toward yourself and others, and the impact of that way of being in your life. Then take the following steps:
Start with caring for your body
Depression tends to make you lethargic, it is important for you to move and change the chemistry of your body. Take on Yoga, cardio exercise, biking, hiking, or just simple walking at your pace. Start in the morning right after you wake up with a more heart pumping routine and do simple stretching before you sleep. Download an app with active guided meditation and simply follow. Ask a friend to be an active buddy with you and move you through this process.
Hang out with friends or family members
Depression tends to isolate you as if you have no patience for people around you, or the thought that others just don’t understand you. Pick a friend, a family member, a support group, or even a random person in a coffee shop and try to connect. A face-to-face connection goes a long way. Seeing love, compassion, and caring in another person’s eyes or voice tends to sooth the part that feels alone and hopeless.
Be around nature and pets
Get a dog or cat, go to the dog park, go to the shelters and pet some of the animals, hug a tree, sit in a park, walk barefoot on the beach, lay down on the sand, smell a rose, and enjoy all there is on this beautiful earth beside humans. Remember you are one of the great beings on earth, and you belong here.
Know your value
Depressed people tend to forget their own value. Remember the way you have helped people and created a smile for them, been there for others when they needed you, efforts that created your achievements, people who have told you that they love you and value you, and people who miss you when they don’t see you. Don’t worry about the ones who have not appreciated you or have not reciprocated your caring, that is their lack of skill not yours. Ask your friends and family to tell you 5 characteristics and values that they like about you.
Create a purpose for your daily life
Most depressed people tend to lose their purpose and think of themselves as useless and life as pointless. Just create your own purpose in life. Pick one, any valuable act that benefits you and the world will do. Maybe a virtue or an act that you yearn to receive from others can actually be the one virtue that you can offer to the world on a daily bases. For example, if you imagine a world filled with love and giving, then start by giving love as you know it to whomever you choose daily.
Be in action toward creating a world that you like and stop waiting for the rest of the world to create it for you. Begin with you. Imagine the world like you want it, see the type of thinking, feeling and actions that are needed to create that type of world. Now let’s start with you since this is your vision. Even if you can’t change the entire world, which realistically you won’t, you can at least change your world to the one you like. Remember, the depressive thinking, feeling, and acting is also your made up world. So, choose the one you like.
Consider getting support from your doctors, therapists, counselors to walk with you through this path. You don’t need to do this all alone.