Depression is a mentally and physically debilitating illness that can be difficult to treat. However, recovery is possible, whether you believe so at this point or not. If you struggle with depression and think you are ready to start helping yourself heal, you are in control and you can overcome it.
Here are 5 steps you can take to overcome major depression and reclaim your life. Not all of them are easy, but every single one of them will work in time.
Step 1: Speak with a professional
If you are living with major depression and are ready to begin taking steps to overcome it, the first step you should take is making an appointment to speak with a professional. Sitting down with a psychiatrist will finally give you a chance to talk openly about your struggle without the fear of judgment.
This seems like a very scary thing to do, but in reality, it is probably one of the hardest things you will have to do on your journey to recovery. It’s the only thing you will have to do alone, but once you do, everything will start to get a little easier day by day. It’s a big and brave step, which is why we’ve put it first in this list.
Try online counseling if you aren’t sure you are ready to talk with someone face-to-face. Communicating your thoughts, feelings and circumstances with a professional can be scary, but it can also help make you feel safe and reassure you that there is someone to talk to when you need it.
Step 2: Join a support group
Once you have talked with a mental health professional, you might decide, or they might suggest, to join a support group for those living with major depression. One problem with trying to tackle depression symptoms is that it can be very difficult to express how you feel and describe how difficult it makes everyday tasks.
Joining a support group places you in a safe, welcoming environment with those who understand what you are going through. Listening to someone else put your feelings into words might be just the kind of comfort and reassurance you need to continue moving forward with your recovery.
This is an especially helpful step to take if you have spoken with a professional about your depression but haven’t talked to friends or loved ones yet. That can also be scary. Interacting with others in a group setting can act as a bridge between talking with a stranger and with someone you love (and who loves you, too).
Step 3: Talk with someone close to you about what’s going on
At some point, you may decide you want support from a close friend or family member who doesn’t already know what’s going on. This is not a sign of weakness and in fact can really help you start to overcome your symptoms. Choose someone you can trust and who you feel comfortable, at least somewhat, talking with about such a serious subject.
Let them know you are receiving professional help and be honest with them about how you have been coping. Be clear that you just want to be open about the situation and that you love and trust them enough to bring it to their attention. They might not know what to say at first, and that is okay. It can take some time to process.
They might tell you they love you but that they aren’t sure how to help. Before you sit down with them, brainstorm a few ideas in your head regarding how you want that person to support you. It can be something as simple as calling you in the morning to make sure you get out of bed. If you communicate that honestly and clearly, they will be able to help as best they can.
Step 4: Keep up with activities as usual
It is very common for people experiencing major depression to, often without even realizing it, begin to withdraw from their normal routines. They might start showing up to work barely on time when they used to show up early. They might decline invites to go out for drinks on Friday night and skip out on their weekly lunch with friends.
Do your best to keep things as normal as possible: not to ignore your problems, but to make sure you continue living life the way it should be lived. Depression can make everything confusing and feel wrong, so if you stay in as normal of a routine as possible, over time you will be able to cling to and thrive on that.
You will feel much stronger and more confident when you push through and accomplish tasks anyway. Here are a few helpful strategies you can implement in your day-to-day life to make sure you continue to get things done and still participate in social activities, even when you don’t feel like doing anything at all.
Step 5: Establish an exercise routine
Adding something new to your life while you’re already dealing with so much might seem like an unwise decision, but that isn’t the case when it comes to exercise. It turns out that getting up and moving, even when it’s the absolute last thing you want to do, might be able to help begin to relieve some of your depression symptoms.
Studies have shown that regular exercise may play an important role in treating and improving more severe depression symptoms in adults. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, and you don’t have to go from doing nothing to running three or four miles in a day.
Start small. Take the dog for a walk or walk to a coffee shop to meet a friend. Find a workout buddy, someone who is heading to the gym anyway and won’t mind you tagging along. Once you find an activity you enjoy that gets you moving, after awhile, you really will start feeling a little better.
Most important of all, know that everything is going to be okay. Just in reading this article you are already taking steps to overcome this. Keep going. You can do this.