You could be an incredibly positive person, your life could be thriving and the cloud of depression could still suddenly loom over your head for no good reason. When I describe my depression to others I like to use the cake metaphor I love cake (always have) and suddenly I lose my appetite for cake, I have no desire at all to eat it. If I were to force it down (because I know I love it) it doesn’t taste of anything. Depression is like losing your appetite for life. So I decided to use my 8 years of experience with clinical depression to compile everything I’ve ever learned toward lessening the impact it has on your daily life. I hope this helps some of you struggling like I was, with the seemingly bottomless hole that is depression.
Don’t defeat yourself
How we view depression
The world is becoming more acknowledging of depression as a real clinical illness. With this progress also comes the more negative mindset that you are helpless if you have it and the only cure is professional help and medication. We can now swat away nay sayers who ignorantly advised us to “perk up” with the fact that depression is an illness that we have no control over. Whilst I agree, you have no control over getting depression, I also believe that thinking we have no control over how any illness impacts us is ignorant.
The power of your mind
Science is continuously showing us that the brain has incredibly impacts on the body. Our thoughts can actually change our health. Mass hysteria is a great example of this. Sam witnesses his co-worker Emma vomiting into the bin by her desk. Upon further inspection Sam sees Emma has a nasty red rash on her arm and believes Emma has a contagious virus, within an hour Sam develops a red rash and also begins vomiting. By the end of the day 10 co-workers contract the same symptoms. There was never a virus, what Emma had wasn’t even contagious. Events like this have been documented throughout history, where the same symptoms spread amongst large group of people without any actual epidemic being present. Physical symptoms appeared because the people believed they had contracted them. Our minds are bloody powerful.
Ever heard the saying stress can kill you? Well recent study researched the effects of stress on mortality. The results showed people who reported having high stress in their lives and believed that stress was bad for them were 43% more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Here’s the catch, the people who reported high levels of stress in their lives but believes stress wasn’t bad for them had some of the lowest death rates in the study. Our thoughts can create rashes on our bodies and even increase our chances of dying. The mind can have very real effects on the body.
What to do about it
Although your mindset is not the cause of your depression, it can be the “cure”. You may not have control over getting depression but in changing your mindset, you can drastically impact whether you move on from it or how badly it afflicts you. Believe getting over depression is something you have full control over. Oh, and believe it with conviction. Remember that when people truly believed that a virus was contagious they physically developed the symptoms. Imagine what you can do by believing you have control over defeating depression. Whenever you have thoughts that depression is a hole you can’t get out of, pause, don’t punish yourself – instead acknowledge the negative thought and replace it with something more positive.
1. I have full control in overcoming depression
2. I am stronger every time I overcome my depression
3. I appreciate my depression for making me strong
4. Depression gives me the opportunity to take better care of myself
5. I am thankful for depression as it allows me to improve how I function in life
Why depression is useful
So lets get a little bit scientific. All machines eventually break down right? Scientists have theorized that the law describing this applies to everything in the universe, they call it entropy. So everything in the universe is progressing toward a state of disorder and randomness. Left to itself any energy system will break down; a car turns to rust and buildings erode, right? However, humanity progresses toward increased order, like the progress of evolution or our social systems for example. So are we a paradox? The explanation is that order arises not in spite of entropy but because of it. So basically in chaos we create order; we humans create roads, currency, laws. So in the disorder of depression you can create more order.
Humans are dissipative structures. Which means the more complex the system, the more entropy it must dissipate. So basically, you eat you shit, what we put into factories burns out into the air, we breathe in oxygen and out carbon dioxide. Every system also has a limit. If this limit is challenged there is a point where the slightest nudge can bring the system grinding to a halt. It either breaks down or orders itself in a new way, which is what we see with machines. So the cause of depression could be that our limit has been reached and our system has come to a halt.
How depression halts us
When I’m depressed I can definitely say I’ve felt like I’ve stopped functioning. I wake up and don’t want to get out of bed and when I finally get up I don’t have the urge to do anything. So realize that your system has become so complex that you’ve come to a halt, like cogs in a machin. Now you have the same two options as a machine, you break down and stop existing or you re-order yourself and start functioning again. This is how I came to believe that depression is useful. Depression let’s me know that the thoughts in my head or what’s going on in my life have become so complex and overhwelming that my current system can’t deal with it. So depression is an opportunity to look at your environment, schedule or your self-care routine and change it. Depression is an opportunity to kick-start your engine and change your life.
How we make our depression worse
Just as our mind impacts our bodies, what we do with our bodies impacts our minds. Depression often draws us to halts, it demotivates us and can result in neglecting self-care or throwing off your routine. Just like a machine when the cogs are left unturned, rust develops. When the switch is finally flicked it doesn’t move as easily as before. When you neglect your self-care the body then suffers and that goes back to the mind. When we allow ourselves to come to a halt and stay there, our depression gets worse. Studies show that what we do greatly impacts our chances of depression. Individuals who sit more show a greater chance of depression. Hold yourself accountable for what you do and how it impacts your body and mind.
Overcoming the urge to stop moving
The word motivation is based on the latin word “mot” meaning “move”, motivation cannot happen without movement. Yet most people wait for motivation to come before they decide to move. We wait for inspiration or motivation to drive us. This mentality is at its most harmful when we become depressed because it encourages us to wait for our appetite for life to return, it encourages us to stay in bed, it encourages us to say no to friends inviting us out. Take the wheel yourself and drive, move, push yourself forward and the motivation will come. You now know that just sitting more worsens your depression, so stand up and get some fresh air.
10 Steps to beating depression in your Every Day Life
1. Sit less
Studies have shown that those who sat for 7 hours per day and were more physically inactive were three times more likely to have depression than those who sat for fewer than 4 a day. Sitting has been linked to reduced well-being, psychological distress and increased mortality. If sitting decreases your motivation to move then it can become a cycle to making your depression worse. So try to reduce the hours you spend sitting and get up regularly to stretch your legs.
2. Exercise as much as you can
If being less active is directly linked to increasing the rates of depression then it makes sense to fight this with exercise. Our bodies and minds are hardwired to feel good when we work out, this is because whenever we physically work our bodies and sweat we are rewarded with neurochemicals like dopamine that make us feel good. Humans are made to move so it makes sense that exercise has been linked to easing stress, increased energy and better health.
3. Eat more fish
Deficiency of fatty acids found in salmon and vegetable oils has been associated with greater risk of depression. This is because fatty acids regulate seratonin which is linked to mood and anxiety. A large Norwegian study of 22,000 individuals revealed regular intake of cod liver oil were 30% less likely to have symptoms of depression. I’d personally recommend to include fish as a regular part of your diet having noticed a massive increase to my own energy levels and mood. Deficiency in B12 has also been linked to depression and fish are conveniently a great source of B12.
4. Boost your vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency has been heavily linked with depression and other mental health problems. Since vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin, the easiest way to boost your intake is by spending more time outdoors. If you’d like to increase your intake in your food salmon, sardines, tuna and mackeral are the foods richest in vitamin D. I’d also recommened to take A-Z vitamins as they include !00% of your daily recommended vitamin D and B12.
5. Get that D
We aren’t talking about vitamins anymore. Depression can steal your sex drive and replete your ability to feel attractive. On the positive side the benefits of sex or self-play act as a buffer against depression. I wrote an entire post on the benefits of masturbation and why touching yourself should be apart of everyone’s self care routine. At it’s most basic sexual pleasure, even when no orgasm is achieved will release dopamine and epenphrine that will boost your mood and lower stress thus reducing the symptoms of depression.
6. Improve your sleep
Although depression can negatively impact your sleep the same goes in reverse. The amount of sleep can impact your emotional health. People with insomnia are three times more likely to develop depression. So make relaxing before bed an important part of your every day schedule. Try to head to bed and wake at the same time every night. Feel free to peruse my ultimate guide to getting god sleep for some helpful tips.
7. Take social-media breaks
Studies have found that the use of multiple social media platforms have a strong association with depression and anxiety. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s noticed so many young adults online with depression and anxiety. Our Internet age can be amazing, it allows us to access infinite knowledge but it can also create a great disconnect when it comes to actual companionship. Stop yourself from scrolling down into the infinite void of twitter and take a break every now and then.
8. Get a Routine
Depression can blend days into the other and really disrupt our every day routine. It’s important to make sure you stay on top of your self-care. Create yourself a morning routine and stick consistently to it. If your looking for inspiration feel free to check out my video on my morning routine.
9. Stop Smoking
A study took figures from over 1,000 men and women that showed smokers had more than twice the rate of depression. Their analysis supported nicotine addiction leading to increased risk of depression. A study by Kenneth A. Perkins at the University of Pittsburgh showed that smokers feel better after a cigaratte but only when they haven’t smoked since the previous day. This show the “anti-depressant” claims of smoking are actually only short term and suggests the changes nicotine can have in the brain may be causing your depression. It’s worth trying to stop and seeing the impacts on your depression for yourself.
10. Eat less processed food
Replace processed food with whole foods. I know this is one people don’t like to here but processed foods literally make you feel like crap. There are tons of studies linking sugary, processed and hgih fat foods with tiredness, lack of motivation and decreased performance. Feeling more lethargic is the thing someone with depression needs. When you eat whole foods you improve your health, energy levels and overall mood. The easiest step is to try incorporate greens and veggies as a side to every meal.
Throughout my years struggling with depression changing my own behaviours and mindset did more for me than years of relying on professional help and medications. Of course that’s not to say don’t try them, try everything! But never let yourself say that the hole of depression is something you have no control over. When that vaccum tries to suck you in, if you believe you have no control you’re more likely to let go and let it drag you under.