Depression is more than just being sad. It drains your energy, makes you irritable, causes mood swings, and much more.
According to the WHO, depression is a significant contributor to the overall global burden of disease.
It’s not something you can simply ‘get out of’.
But that doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Getting out of a depression slump may not be easy, but it’s not impossible. In fact, we’re here to help you on your way to recovery.
This post will discuss how to get out of a depression slump without medication, how to identify depression, and more valuable insights to help you out.
Without further ado, let’s first start with discussing symptoms of depression.
What are the tell-tale signs of depression? How to know if you’re really depressed or just lethargic and sad? So, if you’re wondering, “am I depressed or just lazy?“, keep reading.
Depression can sometimes slowly creep in without you even knowing about it. By the time you feel that something is wrong, it has already altered your perspective and started to affect your moods.
At this time, it is crucial to analyze your behavior and check the symptoms of depression. Here are the top few warning signs of depression:
The first major thing that depression adversely affects is your outlook on life. The worst part is that this usually happens without one’s knowledge.
Depression can make you question everything you believe in – especially the things that make you happy or fulfilled. The “what’s the point?” perspective can really suck the joy out of everything you once used to look forward to.
So, if you repeatedly find yourself feeling worthless, helpless, or meaningless, it may be that your perspective towards things has become despairful.
Depression does not directly cause anxiety, but the two often come together. Anxiety can be in many forms. For example, inability to stay in one place, nervousness, tension, heavy sweating, rapid breathing or heartbeat, panicking, irrational fear (usually of the unknown), etc.
Sometimes, even anxiety can become so severe that it affects your mental health. For example, it can make you lose confidence in yourself, make you feel less worthy, or even make you hopeless towards betterment. If not controlled at an early stage, all of this can lead to depression.
This is a significant warning sign of depression but often gets overlooked in the guise of lethargy, laziness, or tiredness.
Demotivation leads to prolonged procrastination, leading to low self-esteem and the inability to complete tasks. This feeds your depression even more as you constantly find yourself unable to meet your goals. You begin feeling like you are lagging behind and are good for nothing. Demotivation can quickly become a vicious cycle that keeps feeding depressive thoughts while hindering you from reaching your goals.
If you notice this behavior becoming a consistent pattern in your life, it could be a symptom of depression.
When depressed, even if your productivity level is low, you may still be feeling tired and lethargic all the time. This can also be associated with sleeping problems. So even though depression does cause sleep irregularities, a depressed person can feel exhausted despite getting sound sleep.
Depression can cause sleeping problems like insomnia, nightmares, oversleeping, sleep paralysis, etc. In fact, a study found out that among all other depression symptoms, sleep problems are one of the most common.
Irregular sleep can cause tiredness too.
Depression is often accompanied by eating disorders, both major and minor. Increased or decreased appetite, overeating, nausea, etc., are among the many eating problems caused by depression.
The most common eating disorder is overeating. Binge eating gives temporary highs that make you feel good. But, ultimately, you can’t stop eating as you want to always feel good. This leads to weight gain and guilt. Both can feed depressive thoughts and make your condition worse.
This is another common and noticeable effect of depression. Sudden mood changes, being overly emotional or emotionally numb, short temper, irritability, etc., can all be due to depression.
When depressed, your tolerance level falls and you tend to react more to situations where you usually would have kept your cool. Feelings of panic, dread, anger and annoyance are heightened in depression.
However, it can be the opposite for some people as they find themselves unable to react in emotional situations.
Feeling this way on a regular basis can be a sign of depression.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or seasonal depression is a form of depression triggered by changing seasons. This usually happens in winter, right after summer ends.
Some scientists associate it with a lack of sunlight in winters. However, in rare cases, seasonal depression can sometimes even occur when there is plenty of sunlight at the beginning of summer.
The common term “winter blues” is actually a milder form of SAD. Unlike seasonal depression, winter blues are rarely strong enough to regularly affect your mood or daily routine.
Fortunately, seasonal depression can be reduced by adopting healthy habits like exercise, going for walks, self-care, reading, therapy, etc. If you want, you can also decide to get medication.
As obvious from the name, symptoms of a person dealing with morning depression are heightened when they wake up in the morning.
If you wake up feeling dreadful, sad, cranky, frustrated, tired, or demotivated, you may have this form of depression. Other major symptoms include the inability to get out of bed and sleeping problems like oversleeping.
These symptoms gradually decrease during the day but are at their peak in the morning.
The most effective way to avoid morning blues is to get out of bed right after waking up. This sounds straightforward but, trust me, it’s pretty effective. Here’s why:
Not only will this make you feel worthy, but it will also keep negative thoughts at bay. The longer you stay in bed doing nothing, the worse you will feel about delaying your daily tasks. Ultimately, depressive thoughts will start to creep in.
Other coping tactics include:
- Developing a regular sleep cycle
- Planning out your next day before going to sleep
- Taking a shower after waking up
- Self-affirmations or self talk
- Avoid getting on your phone or using social media right after waking up
- Eating a well-rounded, healthy breakfast
How to Get Out of a Depression Slump or Avoid It
Finally, how can you get out of a depression slump? Can it even be done without medication?
Yes, it is. Let’s look at the top 10 things you can try to avoid a depression slump.
1. Working towards Realistic Goals
Setting realistic, short-term goals can do wonders for your mental health. They are easier to reach and thus make you feel productive and useful. This improves your self-esteem and self-belief.
2. Spread Positivity – Try to be of Service to Others
When you find it difficult to develop positive thoughts for yourself, try to do so for others instead. It’s incredible how fulfilling something as simple as being nice to a stranger can be. Helping out others makes us feel useful and gives us a self-esteem boost. Moreover, this also cultivates new relationships.
3. Stay in the Present
Don’t fret over what has already happened, and don’t plan or worry about what’s to come so much that you stop living in your present. The fact is that there will always be good and bad things in life. So, instead of focusing on the woes of the past or future, try to find positive aspects to focus on in your current life. Life rarely goes according to our plans anyway.
4. Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule
Sleeping problems and depression can become a dangerous cycle as they feed off each other. Therefore, a regular sleep schedule can help significantly to get out of a depression slump. Some tips for a regular sleep schedule include eating early, working out, creating a sleep-friendly space and waking up on time.
5. Shift Your Focus
Depression takes your focus away from the good things in your life and shifts it to the negative things only. As a result, you become narrow visioned and all the positives seem to fade away. To fix this, list all the good things in your life (however insignificant they may seem) and practice gratefulness. Try to maintain a firm belief that something good is always going on.
6. Believe in Yourself
Coping mechanisms rarely work if you don’t believe in yourself. In fact, self-belief can improve productivity levels, help achieve goals, improve emotional health and build self-esteem. So practice self-affirmations, avoid feeling unnecessarily guilty and don’t be too hard on yourself. This is very important for getting out of a depression slump.
Workout has been proven to help get out of a slump of depression. According to the HUNT Cohort Study, regular leisure-time exercise of any intensity helps prevent depression.
A 30 minutes workout 3-5 days a week can significantly help with depression. Even 15 minutes every day can make a difference. The exercises don’t have to be heavily exhausting. The idea is to make your body more active. If possible, try outdoor activities like running, cycling, etc., as they bring you closer to nature.
8. Eat Mindfully
Like sleeping problems, eating problems also feed depression. Don’t skip meals; try to avoid junk food and overeating. Eat well-rounded meals with proper portions. Instead of binge eating, try to eat in small portions throughout the day. Remember that good physical health is essential for a healthy mind.
9. Stop with Comparisons
Comparing yourself to others is a toxic yet common habit. Comparisons kill happiness. Remember that your only competition is yourself. Others may seem to have it better than you, but no one is perfect. So, your only focus should be yourself.
10. Try to Improve Your Relationships
When depressed, maintaining relationships usually becomes the last priority. In fact, we sometimes even push our close ones away due to feelings of guilt. You may feel like a burden on your friends and family, but that is almost never true.
It is important to share your thoughts and feelings with a close friend or family member. Otherwise, you can end up building walls around yourself that are difficult for others to cross.
Watching a feel-good show or movie can be a great pick-me-up. So here are a few movies to watch when depressed (check out more here):
The movie revolves around a depressed businessman who attempts suicide but is found by an angel instead. The angel shows him what the life of those around him would have been like if he had never existed. When the depressed businessman sees how terrible others would have been without his good deeds, he realizes his true worth. In the end, he is content with his wonderful life.
A mathematics genius, Will Hunting, works as a janitor at MIT. His life takes a turn when his talents are discovered by a professor who decides to help him reach his true potential. After Will ends up getting in a fight with the police, the professor gets him legal help through therapy. However, he was in the habit of pushing everyone away who tried to get close – including his girlfriend and many therapists. Finally, an understanding therapist is able to help Will.
3. Inside Out
This beautifully expressive movie depicts the life of a sad 11-year-old girl who has to leave her life behind to move to another city with her parents. We get to look inside her head where all the emotions – joy, sadness, anger, fear & disgust – coexist. All of them try to get the girl out of depression, but all ignore one quiet, somber emotion: sadness. In the end, sadness comes out to the front when the girl shuts down all her other emotions. The girl finally cries her heart out, confronts her parents about their fights and begins to heal. All of this happens because she allowed herself to feel sad.
This feel-me movie is about a man who quits his job after his wife’s sudden death and moves to a new place with his kids to start afresh. His new 18-acre property also consists of a wildlife park. Although closed for years, the park is still full of wildlife and is managed by a woman and her small staff. The man works with her to rebuild the zoo, opens his heart to her, and begins a happy life again.
No matter what, you should never continue living with depression. Seeking help does not make you weak. In fact, it is a sign of willpower and strength.
If you’re feeling helpless and alone, remember that you always have yourself and it’s never too late to try to push yourself out of a depression slump.
We hope our tips will help you battle depression so you can find yourself again and lead a content life. Please contact us in case you want to share how you are dealing with your depression slump or if you managed to get out of it!