What should I do if I think I’m depressed? **Disclaimer, this is a significant over simplification; I'm supposed to make it seem simple so that it seems doable. This does not negate empathy and appreciation for how difficult depression can be.
I have a meme on the wall of my office (I call it the obnoxious wall of change) that says “life is simple: are you happy? Yes- keep on, No- change something”
When we find ourselves depressed, we often find ourselves withdrawing, hiding under the covers, eating a pint of ice cream and other fantastic carbs like mac&cheese. That’s our biological mechanism for healing, rest, eat regroup, and go over what has happened in our lives to cause us to feel so low. Unfortunately these days and with pathological depression that often means criticizing ourselves mercilessly which stops being useful pretty quickly.
When we’re feeling helpless, it can be helpful to start with the serenity prayer and I’ll leave the god part out of it because I think that’s a personal choice: “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
So what can you change? While you’re hiding under the covers let’s make the time useful:
Does your life look the way you want it to look?
What are your values? (see values clarification worksheet)
Are you making choices and decisions that are consistent with those values?
Are the values really yours or are they someone else’s (parents, partner, boss, church), make sure they are your values.
Do you need to change jobs?
Do you need to change partners?
Do you need to start having more fun?
Do you need to spend more time with your family?
Do you need to get your diet under control?
Do you need to start exercising?
Changes vary from small to large but they are all possible. When you are depressed they may seem insurmountable.
You’ll want to start with changes that will help regulate the sad hormones in your body, get your feet under you so that you have the energy to make the big changes that are coming later:
Turn on happy music even when you don’t feel happy.
Get up and move. Start with switching to a sofa instead of the bed, or taking a shower, or getting dressed or walking your dog around the block.
Sit outside instead of inside.
Start eating more protein and vegetables instead of carbs.
Ask your MD for a prescription if you can’t seem to get your feet under you no matter what you try.
Ask a friend to check in on you, or call a friend a talk about something not at all related to your mood.
And then once you feel like you can see straight again, find a friend who you trust or find a therapist and say “hey! I need to make some changes in my life and they seem impossible, will you help me?”