Millions of people try to resolve all problems with drugs, either prescribed, over-the-counter or street drugs. Unfortunately, all drugs have side effects…some serious, some not so serious, some lethal, some beneficial, some physically addictive, and some psychologically addictive.
Depression is a common psychological difficulty. Too many people use alcohol to relieve depression. Using it enhances all symptoms of depression (e.g., sense of helplessness, hopelessness, lack of motivation, fatigue, etc.). Certainly, there are effective drugs available that relieve "clinical" depression, but alcohol is not one of them.
Of course, if you are seriously depressed for any length of time, discuss your situation, and options, with a qualified mental health professional. When anti-depressant medication is warranted, be certain to take it as prescribed.
There are, however, several behavioral options you can try before immediately seeking medication. Here are 10 actions you may want to try before medicating yourself for depression.
1. Dramatically improve your diet/eating habits. Eat super-healthy foods…prepared for you and delivered, if possible. Don’t burden yourself with trying to cook or prepare your food, because when you start to go down, you’ll likely stop taking the time to cook well.
2. Let go of all pressure to maximize your performance. Your body will react to that internal pressure by slowing down (or shutting down) and you will feel even more depressed. Revoke any promises, cancel any stressful appointments, and let go of problematic relationships.
3. Simplify your life and keep it simple. Do less or be responsible for less than you "know" that you can handle. When you are depressed, almost everything feels overwhelming. So, it is better to keep your daily life simple at all times.
4. When you are not depressed, make a list of those activities you know help you feel better. Make that list readily accessible. Respond immediately to "down" feelings. Immediately, check your list and do those things that are nurturing for you. You will get through your down times faster if you surrender to them as opposed to trying to fight/overcome them.
5. Identify the behavior or situations that get you down. Sometimes, depression is triggered by shame or feeling badly about yourself. Often it begins with angry thoughts and feelings directed toward yourself. Whatever the source, immediately replace negative thinking patterns with neutral to positive ones.
6. Tell others about what you are doing…addressing your depression. When you accept it and share it with trusted friends or family members, they will respect you more for doing as well as you are. Talking about it reduces depression’s impact.
7. Stop striving to become a "better person." Striving is stressful. The key is to accept yourself as you are, weaknesses and all. If you can give up focusing on the future (just for the time being) until you feel better, you will put less pressure on your emotional system.
8. Work with a great therapist. Working with a highly skilled and experienced therapist assists you to identify possible underlying or exacerbating causes of your depression.
9. Remove all dangerous instruments from your home. No guns or other weapons, please! No dangerous drugs either. When you are depressed, it is no time to make life-altering decisions, especially about your living or escaping emotional (or physical) pain by killing yourself.
10. Exercise. No matter how strongly you object to moving your body, simply begin simple exercises. Exercise and breathing abdominally increases your metabolism, which is healthy. Do only those exercises you are physically able to do. If you really can’t move, don’t force yourself. Rather, practice clear imagery about moving your body.
Depression can be more powerful than any personal efforts to manage or resist it. However, you may want to try the above suggestions before you immediately resort to using drugs of any kind.