Depression is a mood disorder characterized by chronic unhappiness, low energy, and loss of interest in activities, which leads to problems with many aspects of daily functioning. Depression often makes it difficult to generate and maintain relationships as well as engage in common life activities.
Below are some common methods for coping with depression that I often utilize with my clients in Therapy (at my counseling practice in Ann Arbor, MI).
1. Be honest about Depression and how you’re feeling
It can be difficult to open up about the things that make life difficult. This is even more difficult when we begin comparing ourselves to others. When we compare, shame often results. It can be difficult to open up about depression if your friends and family just don’t understand what is happening in your body and mind. Owning what we go through is often a good first step in making the choice to get help. Most importantly, be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling.
2. Learn more about Depression and about what actually may be going on
There are several reasons why symptoms associated with depression show up. One common reason that is often overlooked is a somatic issue – something may have gone awry with the body itself. If you want to connect with a great doctor, feel free to contact us (Identity Counseling Psychology) for a referral in the Ann Arbor community.
Other common factors causing depression may be situational, familial, social, nutritional, or the dreaded electrochemical (something has gone awry in the brain).
Meeting with a trusted therapist (licensed counselor or psychologist) may help you determine whether it is actually depression or if it may be something else holding you back from thriving. If you’re interested in exploring your options in Ann Arbor, contact us here.
If it is depression, it’s important to determine which type of depression. In general, depression can take on two primary forms:
- Major Depression (more extreme and acute form)
- Persistent Depressive Disorder (more of a longstanding depressive life undertone)
Feel free to contact us to learn more about the various forms that depression can take on.
3. Stop trying to fix “the problem.” Shift from “doing” to “being”
In life we are socialized and evolutionarily predisposed towards seeking solutions to problems. This makes sense because when we are presented with a conventional problem, it is very helpful to employ “root cause analysis.”
It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but the reality is that trying to get to the bottom of what is causing depression may only make things worse. At my counseling practice (IdentityAnnArbor.com), I utilize Mindfulness to attempt to facilitate movement in my clients from the “doing mode” of operating to the “being mode” of operating. This shift from “doing” to “being” is a shift in consciousness and awareness which allows us to change how we think about our depression, instead of trying to change some “fundamental problem.” Through this change in awareness, clients often find greater self-acceptance and improvements in self-esteem, which help to free us to make healthier day-to-day decisions.
This movement from self-persecution toward self-acceptance requires practice and time. It will feel unnatural at first, but sticking with it over time may yield a healthier outlook on ourselves and on life (for more on specific Mindfulness techniques, check out my previous blogpost here).
4. Establish a healthy routine
Establishing a routine may be the single most effective way to begin to climb out of depression. The problem here is that many find themselves in such a dark place that it may be hard to take the first step. In therapy, we begin by returning to breath. Through cultivating deeper awareness around our breath, we can learn to be more present in other areas of life. For more on specific Mindfulness techniques (such as Mindful Breathing and The Body Scan), refer to my earlier blogpost on Mindfulness.
Establishing a healthy routine can be a daunting task in the midst of depression. For this reason, if you find yourself in this place, I recommend consulting a trained therapist/counselor to help guide you toward a healthier way of being in the world.
5. Identify what it means to you to live intentionally
It can be easy to just let life happen, especially when dealing with depression. In therapy, I work with my clients to identify what living intentionally means to them. I’ve found in working with my clients and in my own life that living with intention allows us to engage life directly, and as a result, we feel better.
Often “living more intentionally” involves things like a reconnection with nature, cultivating an awareness of what is going into the body, exploring healthy outlets for emotions and feelings, and intentionally spending time with other people in a social setting. Each person is different; however, there is often a common thread that many humans are trying to tap into in order to live a more intentional life.
About the author: Tim Wilkins is the owner of Identity Counseling Psychology, PLLC, a counseling private practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan (Located on Washtenaw Ave. & Stadium Blvd. across from Trader Joe’s). Specialty areas at Identity are Anxiety, Depression, Relationship issues, Adolescents, ADHD, and Self-Harm. Tim is also an Adjunct Faculty member in the Behavioral Sciences department at Jackson College, and is a current PhD student studying Clinical Psychology at Fielding Graduate University.