Strategies for Breaking the Cycle of Depression

By: Brian M Murray, MS, IMH

Depression is not limited to certain people who are pre-disposed for it. Depression can happen to anyone. Studies indicate that one in four people will experience depression within their lifetime. There are key thoughts and behaviors that can be attributed to feeling depressed such as thinking (and believing) that everything is hopeless and that nothing is ever going to change. Feelings of worthlessness, being useless at work or in relationships and thinking the world is a terrible place casting blame on the self when things go wrong. These are negative thought patterns that contribute to depression.

There are also behaviors that contribute as well such as being frequently tired or low energy, disruptive sleeping and eating patterns. There is a loss of joy in life with the things that were once enjoyed. Avoidance of family and friends, sleeping most of the day and difficulty getting out of bed. There may even be painful physical complaints such as frequent headaches and backaches. At its worst people may isolate for long periods of time and turn to drugs or alcohol to help cope with the feelings of depression. Chemicals only exacerbate the situation further by eliminating precious serotonin from the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that acts as a natural antidepressant.

Breaking the cycle of depression requires movement. In a metaphorical sense, it is like heating water to a boil. Water without stimulation remains motionless and unchanged. However, if some heat (activity) is applied it energizes molecules creating more energy which creates more movement and so forth and so on. The first step is breaking the motionless cycle and getting movement going. Go to the park and feed the ducks or find some activity that requires getting up and going outside of the home. A simple walk around the block. Call a friend or family member and stop by for a visit. Take up a hobby that involves being around other people such as an art class or outdoor photography. The point is movement.

Breaking the cycle of depression through movement does several things. First it creates a distraction by challenging the often negative perception of the world around us and infuses something positive. It challenges depressed feelings that the world is not a terrible place where everything goes wrong or is bad. Challenge your thoughts of what you might be reacting to. Are you focusing just on the bad things in life without looking at the good? A good way to get negative thoughts out is journaling. Write down the bad thoughts and leave blank space after each sentence to return and write in positive alternatives.

While many of these strategies will work for mild to moderate depression sometimes there may be a situation due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, or chronic severe depression. If this is the case then talking with your doctor for possible antidepressants is highly recommended along with talk therapy. 

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