Anyone who suffers from depression occasionally, or worse, regularly, knows the feeling that nothing will help them feel better. People who live with depressive illness understand how crippling a depressive episode can be, and want to find ways now to get through the next tough period.
Following are five things someone struggling with depressed mood can do now to get through the next depressed mood faster and more easily, or even prevent a depressive episode in the first place.
1. See a Qualified Doctor.
Anti-depressants tend to work very well and prevent crippling depressed moods in people who have a mood disorder which causes depressive episodes. An individual suffering from depressed moods, for the first time or over a long period, should seek medical help as soon as possible.
For those already diagnosed with depressive illness or bipolar disorder who currently take medication, a depressive episode should prompt a visit to the doctor. If the current medication regime is not preventing medication, a physician will typically adjust or change medications.
Most family doctors are conversant with the various anti-depressant medications. Consulting a primary care physician is always a good first step. If this physician feels more care is required, he or she can refer the patient to a psychiatrist for evaluation and medication.
2. Take Prescribed Medications.
Many people take their antidepressants only when they feel depressed. Unfortunately, this leads to far more depressive episodes because antidepressants are not like pain relievers. They cannot be taken as needed and produce results. It is crucial to take antidepressant medication on a daily basis. If the medication is appropriate and prescribed in the correct dosage, daily use should relieve most or even all major depressive episodes once the medication reaches its effective level in the body.
3. Exercise Regularly.
Exercise is the best antidote for depressive moods. Unfortunately, during the middle of a depressive episode, no one wants to get up and go for a jog or even a walk. This is where prevention and habit come in. Creating a regular exercise program and habit makes individuals less likely to become depressed. Having a habit ingrained helps the depressed person take the action to get out and exercise even when they don't feel like it, because that is what they do. They have an exercise habit.
4. Have a Lifeline.
Anyone who struggles with depressed moods should have one person they can call at any time, day or night. This may be a therapist or a friend, but it must be someone completely trusted and someone who understands what depressive illness is and how it works.
The lifeline should agree to listen and encourage without criticizing. A lifeline should understand that suicidal thoughts often accompany major depressive episodes, and handle these thoughts calmly and in a caring manner, without panicking or condemning the thoughts.
Above all, a lifeline should simply allow the depressed person to talk and cry, and perhaps talk and cry along with them.
5. Make a No Suicide Pledge.
In the midst of a serious depressive episode, thoughts of suicide often appear tempting. In fact, these thoughts often crowd out real solutions to getting through the pain. Many people focus on the suicidal thoughts because these thoughts are louder than anything else in their head.
Most people, when not depressed, do not want to die, and in fact want very much to live. Suicidal thoughts are not rational, well-processed thoughts that just happen to be stronger during a depressive episode. They are irrational, depressed thoughts that serve no real purpose.
If a depressed person can acknowledge those suicidal thoughts, but has determined in advance that suicide is not an option, it is easier to set those thoughts aside and consider other options which might help with the depressive episode. For instance, if the depressed mood is related to a certain situation, eliminating the option of suicide might allow room to consider other ways out of the situation. Similarly, ruling out suicide and moving on from those thoughts allows even a very depressed person to be more rational and make the call to the doctor for a medication check or go to the hospital emergency room and ask for help.
When a person feels depressed, none of these solutions make very much sense. However, if they are set up in advance, they will help reduce the severity and frequency of depressive episodes and make getting through the remaining episodes easier.