Many of the clients that I counsel for depression ask me what they can do to cope with their depressed mood in addition to working with me, if they don’t want to take an antidepressant.
If their depression is mild to moderate, I explain to my client that actively engaging in activities that require doing the reverse of their symptoms can lead to positive benefits. Some concrete examples of symptoms of depression, and how to combat them without taking an antidepressant are as follows:
- Have you stopped moving or exercising? Then get out and move for as little as 10 minutes a day. Exercise can have a big impact on our moods because the brain produces Endorphins when we exercise, which are fifty times more powerful than pain pills.
- Are you not eating? Then eat three, regularly-scheduled, healthy meals everyday, even if they are bland and repetitive. Our brains burn 20% of the calories we need to consume every day, which makes it all the more important to eat well when our brains are struggling to function.
- Are you having trouble sleeping? Then develop better sleep habits. Commit to developing healthy sleep habits to encourage restorative sleep. If you like, you can read more about strategies for getting a good night’s sleep and what habits I can change to help me get a good night’s sleep.
- Are you isolating yourself? Then get out and be with people. It is important for people coping with Depression to maintain contact with friends and with society to combat Depression. You can try going to the movies to be in a crowd if you don’t feel like being with someone you know.
- Are you feeling worthless? Then work hard with a counsellor in therapy to be able to authenticate your worth in the world. Feelings of worthlessness and/or recurrent thoughts of death are symptoms of Depression and definite indicators that you could benefit from working with a psychologist to challenge your distorted thoughts and develop better coping skills.
Dr. Patricia Turner, Registered Psychologist, Calgary, Alberta
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