“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” ~Richard Bach

Depression is a mental illness that many people suffer from around the world. Just like any type of illness such as diabetes or heart disease, depression needs to be treated accordingly.

What are the symptoms of depression?

According to HelpGuide.org, the primary symptoms of depression are as follows.

  1. You feel helpless and hopeless. You feel like nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
  2. You lose interest in your regular daily activities. You don’t care anymore about anything that used to matter to you: your hobbies, social life, even sex. You just don’t seem to have the ability to feel happiness, joy or pleasure. And part of you doesn’t even care.
  3. Your appetite (and your weight) fluctuates significantly. SYou gain or lose weight without meaning to. In this case, “significant” means your weight changes by more than 5% in a month.
  4. You sleep too much or too little. You might be dealing with insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping.
  5. You’re easily angered or more irritable than usual. You feel agitated, restless, and you might even have violent urges. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
  6. You feel exhausted or lack energy. You feel tired and sluggish all the time. You’re dealing with ongoing fatigue and you’re physically and maybe emotionally drained. Even the idea of getting up off the couch or getting out of bed can feel like too much sometimes, and if you do get stuff done, you find it takes longer and is more difficult than usual.
  7. You kind of hate yourself a little. You deal with self-loathing. YOu feel worthless and guilty. You are your own worst critic and you can’t stop beating yourself up mentally for what you see as faults and mistakes you’ve made.
  8. You’re a little reckless. You do things that feel like an escape in order to stop feeling the bad stuff (or in some cases, to feel ANYTHING AT ALL). This may involve things like overeating, shopping too much, substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
  9. You can’t focus on anything. Concentration eludes you. You can’t seem to make a decision to save your life – and you have developed some short-term memory issues.
  10. Your body hurts with no apparent cause. You struggle with random body aches and pains, and there’s no logical explanation for it. You might have physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

How do you treat depression?

Medication and talk therapy are the standard approaches to treatment, and if your symptoms are severe (or even if you’re worried that they might be), you should always visit your doctor or another medical professional to ensure your safety and health.*

One thing to consider is that there are different types of depression, a variety of causes (some of which may be physical) and that depression affects everyone differently. That is why it’s really important that you visit your doctor to ensure that you’re physically healthy and emotionally safe.

So even before you try the following exercises, we suggest that you see your doctor and have a checkup to be safe. Be sure to tell your doctor about how you’ve been feeling. Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed – depression is a common but serious issue. Your doctor will be able to tell you if you need treatment and/or medication.

Self-Help Exercises for Depression

Once you’ve obtained treatment and/or clearance from your own doctor, there are certain self-help actions you can take that will allow you to thrive while living with depression.

1. Go Out In Nature And Meditate

The best thing to do in order to feel as well as you can is to go out in nature. Getting in touch with Mother Earth will be so refreshing to your mind, and sit somewhere and meditate as well. It is best to go and do this as often as possible even though the reality is it won’t be daily. On rainy days it can be difficult or if you live in a colder climate, it will be hard to do when the temperatures are subzero and it is a snowstorm.

However, in those cases, you might utilize light therapy, and find a room in your home that is comfortable and meditate there. It will have an excellent effect on you as well.

2. Cut Down On Processed Foods And Eat Nutritiously

Processed foods that are loaded with sugar, additives, and other ingredients that are not natural are not good for your brain chemicals and can increase cortisol levels which is the stress hormone. That can worsen the condition. Foods that are packed with nutrients that include essential fatty acids, protein, B-vitamins, and antioxidants such as eggs, avocados, salmon, nuts, dark leafy greens, and berries are excellent for your brain chemistry. Yes, simple changes to your diet can help control your depression.

3. Get Active

Studies have shown that exercise is a great antidepressant which means when you get active, the endorphins are released into your body which is known as the happy chemical. Exercise has so many excellent benefits and it is great for your brain health as well. All you need to do is a 10 to 20 workout a day to reap the benefits. You will find that depression and anxiety are reduced when you are consistent with it. The bonus is that you will sleep better if you get ample exercise, which also helps control depression.

4. Work Or Volunteer

If you find that the ‘9 to 5’ day grind has been worsening your depression and you are unable to work because of it, you will find that working from home will provide you with many benefits. You will be kept busy if you work from home and you can do freelancing, or find a company that hires remote workers. You will also want to go out and volunteer somewhere at a food bank or an animal shelter. You will find that both working from home and volunteering will show that your time and contributions are valuable which is essential for your well-being and self-esteem.

5. Do Some Journalling

The best thing to do when you have depression is to journal. Journalling is a great outlet for you as you will find it is a healthy way to express your feelings and to allow the process. When you journal, add a section for gratitude because finding 3 to 5 different things a day that you are grateful for will also help.

Depression is a hard mental illness to live with. However, like any illness, with the proper steps, you can have them managed and even thrive. These tips will help anyone with depression live their lives to the fullest.

*Please note that this article is not intended to diagnose you, and that you should always check with your own doctor or medical provider before you try any advice you read here or anywhere on the internet.