Suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide over the last 45 years. While this seems like a drastic number, the amount of undiagnosed and diagnosed cases far exceed this. I struggled with depression for years. No one knew it; I didn't even know it until more recently, which is exactly why it has become dangerous.
Scientists, doctors, and other specialists have been attempting to find the right answers to depression. Even antidepressants and other medications have not cured some of those who take them. People grow hopeless when they find that medications are not helping or worsening the condition, or if they are relying on it.
Meanwhile, the reasons why doctors can’t put their finger on a definite answer is because it lies within you. The truth about depression is that there is no definite cure, just treatments. Based on this and personal experience, I’ve concluded that depression isn’t a disease that a pill or simple therapy can cure. Granted, there are mental disorders that increase depression and getting help is a great thing. The biggest misconception is that other people can fix your depression or that it is unfixable.
Not everyone’s situation or remedy is the same. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but depression more often than not is a state of mind. I believe that the cure to depression is learning self-empowerment and how to gain control of your emotions. People don’t give enough credit on how much power we have over our own minds and lives. By taking the following steps, you'll find yourself growing stronger and closer to a healed mind.
1. Evaluate your physical health and your health habits.
First, make sure that your physical health is in the right place. This is absolutely necessary.
Consult a doctor, if necessary. Just because you look or feel healthy doesn't mean that you're receiving what your body needs or treating it right. I understand not being a health nut, but it is necessary to get enough water, vitamins, minerals, and food that nourish your body. I can't stress it enough, but get your vitamins and minerals! When my depression was at a low point, I went to the doctor and found out I was deficient in multiple vitamins, including iron. Vitamins have an impact on mood balance. Therefore, eating foods with vitamins or taking a vitamin supplement is a must.
Make sure to drink your orange juice and get some fresh air and sun. Avoid sitting indoors all day. In addition, adequate exercise is necessary. It could be a hardcore gym session or a brisk walk through the neighborhood.
Each of these things is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body and to the brain. If you lack these, your brain will not optimally perform and will offset your brain chemistry that could possibly worsen or create other conditions. Your brain needs these things to fully function. Once your body is functioning how it should, you'll notice a huge difference in your mental performance. You'll see a decline in your irritability. Build up your physical health, and your mental improvement will follow right behind.
2. Consult a doctor or counselor for professional assistance, if necessary.
Doctors are more aware of how to treat physical symptoms or preexisting health problems while counselors guide you to better understand your situation. Keep in mind that they are there to help. They can't just hand you the answers to the problems beneath your symptoms. I like counselors because they encourage mind strengthening by asking thought-provoking questions so you can find the solution.
This goes back to the last step. It is necessary to evaluate your physical health because it is a precursor to optimal mental health. Sometimes, we need a professional to reassure us everything is or isn't okay. If it isn't, well, luckily that can change!
3. Be careful with medications.
Some people have pre-existing health conditions that require medications that can offset mood balance. Disorders where depression is a common side effect include ADHD (attention deficient hyperactivity disorder), bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dysthymia, and the list goes on. Some turn to antidepressants for their symptoms. If you are using antidepressants, pay careful attention to what your doctor says. Take all warnings seriously. Do not use other drugs or alcohol during your medication period. Don’t underestimate its ability to really throw things off.
Most medications must be taken carefully. Some require to be taken at the same time every day, while others require a lot of physical maintenance to avoid negative side effects. Be sure to get vitamins, water, food, and at least some exercise. Taking care of physical health will optimize medication results rather than enhancing the side effects. I can’t say cut medications out completely since they do help if taken properly. However, be informed of your condition and how to properly medicate. Try to not build a reliance on any medication. If you wonder if you have a disorder, refer back to step 2.
4. Meditate, relax, and allow your mind to rejuvenate.
This should be done simultaneously with repairing your physical health. Even though depression slows you down, your mind does not. Overthinking and anxiety often offset your mental peace and lead your mind to shift towards negative thoughts. How do you stop this? Turn your mind off, meditate, and relax.
Depression can cause insomnia and restlessness. Your body and mind need to recharge to perform how they need to. Without rest, your brain will be slowed down as it works harder to function. Therefore, this will not allow you to heal. Rest clears your head, and that is much needed with depression.
Put yourself in a relaxing environment and treat yourself. I recommend essential oils, ambient music, Epsom baths, or anything of that sort. Use that time to reflect on life. Even use that time for your imagination to roam. Envision the life you want and reflect on what your life actually is. Ask yourself who you want to be. Relax your mind more, then push for productive thinking. The more you can convince yourself that this is your life, it will be what you want. Give yourself this kind of time often because it is much needed. Meditate peacefully to get in touch with your inner consciousness. This sounds strange, but don’t knock it until you try it!
5. Understand the cards you’ve been dealt, and don't dwell on them.
Life is a game. It's not easy to get to the top, yet it's easy to fall right from it. That's the unexplainable irony of life. Situational depression commonly comes from tough situations or an undesired outcome. Shit happens. Great things happen. Some people are more blessed, while some face more serious circumstances. Remember to never play the victim from the cards life has dealt you. Don't blame anyone else, and especially don't blame yourself.
Reflect on the past rather than dwelling. The past is a reflection of what you've been through, not who you are underneath the surface. When we take a look at our reflection in the mirror, we evaluate what we like or don’t like and decide what we want to do differently. That reflection is not permanent, and it’s important to approach it constructively. Guilt holds you back, but a strong mind takes negativity and creates initiative.
There is a distinguishable line between accountability and guilt. Come to terms with your own realities and constructively deal with them. We find ourselves comparing ourselves and our happiness to others and are often led to discouragement. Don’t compare your situation to someone else unless it is to motivate you.
6. Find healthier outlets for your emotions and be productive.
Depression leads people to bundling up emotions rather than expressing them in a healthy way. It also makes people feel like a burden; therefore, people tend to downplay their real feelings or act normal. Not managing or rationalizing emotions have negative long-term effects. The most difficult part is that the depressed don't always realize it. It’s important to remind yourself that depression is a state of mind, and you should not take the little things personally. Depressed people tend to become more paranoid from overthinking and misconstrue others' actions, therefore leading to miscommunication between loved ones and themselves.
Depression worsens when you shove aside your emotions and act like they don’t matter while they continually build up. Confront your emotions and find a way to express them either directly or indirectly. Taking your attention and energy away from overthinking can distract you from depressing thoughts. Being productive even enhances areas of your life that leads to self-achievement. When self-achievement becomes recurring, you’ll find your depression lessening with it. It gives you more positives to look at for yourself. Once you get there, things become easier.
Painting, writing, photography, reading, sewing, building, or anything that allows you to indirectly express your feelings is a great outlet. Also put your mind into getting tasks done such as homework, cleaning, errands, finding a job, or even contributing to a philanthropic cause. The key here is to find trusted people to vent emotions to and learn to communicate how you feel with others. Understand the source of any negative emotions and find a solution. Find outlets that allow you to even creatively express your emotions. You'll start recognizing your abilities, and that will allow you a new path of opportunities.
7. Evaluate your abilities and find meaning in them.
Depression becomes a wall between you and your self-esteem. A common characteristic of those who feel depressed is feeling like there is little to nothing for them to offer. Even if there is some talent or skill, depressed people overanalyze others’ abilities and assume that they or their abilities don’t matter. However, the great news is that every person has strengths just waiting to be awakened.
Here’s what you need to do: discover a talent or passion if you haven't already. Think to yourself how this talent or passion can change others’ lives or even your own. Find your redeeming qualities that offset any negatives. Face it, we all have good and bad. We just have to choose what we show more.
Once you do this, refine those talents and abilities. Instead of overanalyzing the negatives in your life, recognize your talents and better them. Invest that mental energy on something that will benefit you. Better yourself, and you will slowly but surely see your depression lessen. This is the most important step in self-empowerment because this is where self-awareness comes into play.
We all want to be the inspiration, but first you have to be inspired. The best way to do this is find someone who shares similar passions or talents with you. For example, if you’re into music, look up an artist. If you’re an athlete, find a professional athlete. Read their biographies and success stories. When I did this, I noticed how mostly all who made it as far as they did sat in the same boat as any of us. You’ll realize that failure and unfortunate circumstances are what made them stronger.
Many once told them they wouldn’t amount to much. They were once overshadowed by the one who was glorified. Then one day, their perseverance paid off. Take note: if they can get through hard times, so can you. You’ll be surprised at how powerful inspiration is on the mind.
This can also extend to empowering music. Find music that just makes you want to kick ass at everything you do. Find upbeat, happy music to listen to rather than sad music. Music has such a powerful effect on our minds.
9. Surround yourself with positive people.
Both positivity and negativity are contagious. We are in a world where negativity seems to prevail. However, people forget that light can brighten the dark easier than the dark can overshadow light. Surround yourself with people who are constantly shedding light rather than throwing shade. Be around people who make you want to be a better person.
Delete all toxic or negative people from your life. Ignore anything negative or hateful they say. It's easy to drag someone down. Have people in your life that make things easier for you. Who you surround yourself with is what you become accustomed to. If people treating you poorly yet you choose to keep them around all the time, it is on you. All this does is adjust your mind to thinking that is the way it should be, and it becomes accustomed to being depressed. Find people who make you genuinely happy. Misery loves company, and negative people get a kick out of those they can bring down with them.
10. Find a constant reminder.
Now that you have taken care of your physical health needs, talked to someone, and come to terms with yourself, all you need to do is find a constant reminder that reminds you of how strong you've become. Constant reminders can be good or negative things that are used for positive motivation. For example, a girl being bullied for her weight works hard in the gym and uses people's hateful words as motivation.
Negativity that is converted to positivity is the strongest fuel to mental empowerment. Constant reminders can provide security to our insecurities. When people put you down, that constant reminder is there to remind you that they’re wrong.
People are going to find what I say controversial, I understand.
However, we need to stop making depression seem like a disorder that we must live with when that’s far from the truth. Treatments vary according to the case, but the cure to depression is a strong mind. I think the reason depression numbers are rapidly growing is because people are misinformed on how to fix it. Bad news: no one can fix it for you. Great news: you can fix it yourself with the right help and empowerment!
Don’t lose hope. No one said this was peaches and cream or that depression was a quick fix. It is a timely process that requires work. Don't dismiss this if after a day you're not better; it takes time.
Realize that you have more control over your mind than you think. Empower yourself—you've got this.