Depression - The top 6 “Pits” you can Avoid!
Updated: Nov 25, 2019
The “Pits” of depression can vary from person to person - what they share is their ability to perpetuate a vicious cycle. Here are the top six - and how you can steer clear of them.(yeah, I know these things usually come in sevens, but let’s just deal with these to start with!)
Pit #1 "The more I'm alone, the deeper my depression gets”
It’s a comment I hear a lot.
Social withdrawal is the most common telltale sign of depression - skipping activities normally enjoyed - isolating ourselves from the world- turning to alcohol or junk food to mask pain and unhappiness.
When we're depressed, there's a very strong urge to pull away from others and to shut down,
It turns out to be the exact opposite of what we need. Social isolation typically serves to worsen how we feel - it amplifies the brain's stress response.
The Fix: Gradually reach out to friends and family - Make a list of the people in your life you want to reconnect with and start by scheduling an activity.
Pit #2: “The Hall of Mirrors”
There's a saying, 'When you're in your own mind, you're in enemy territory.”
Brooding and reflecting about themes like loss and failure will inevitably cause you to feel worse. It’s a toxic process that leads to repetitive negative self-talk.
When clinically depressed, you’ll typically spend a lot of time and energy rehearsing and repeating negative thoughts, often for long stretches of time. Depression leaves you open to those thoughts and the real danger…. is believing them.
The Fix: Keep busy and externally focussed! Redirect your attention to a more absorbing activity, like a run or walk, a catch up with a friend or reading a book.
Pit #3: Self-Medication
Using alcohol or drugs to escape the pain is a pattern that usually causes your depression to get worse.
Alcohol can relieve a little anxiety, but it has a depressing effect on the central nervous system and will disturb your sleep
Like a lot of things that we do to cope with feeling bad, it can make us feel better for the moment, but in the long run, it’s dragging us down.
The Fix: If you notice that your drinking habits are making you feel worse, talk to your doctor or therapist. It’s important to note that alcohol can interfere with anti-depressants and anxiety medications
Pit #4: Avoiding Exercise
When depressed, it's unlikely that you'll keep up with a regular exercise program, even though that’s exactly what you need!
Exercise can be enormously therapeutic and beneficial, it has a powerful anti-depressant effect boosting levels of serotonin and dopamine - two brain chemicals that often ebb when you're depressed.
It's a paradoxical situation-Your body is capable of physical activity - It wants and needs it. The problem is your brain is not capable of getting you to do it.
The Fix: Find someone to help you get started - a personal trainer, coach, or a mate. It has to be someone who “gets it”, who is not going to nag you, but actually give you that prompting and encouragement and accountability
Pit #5: Sugar is not your friend!
Feeling down? Chances are you might find yourself craving sweets or junk food high in carbs and sugar.Chocolate and ice-cream anyone?
Sugar is well known to have a mild mood-elevating effect, but….it's only temporary. Within just two hours, blood glucose levels crash, which has a mood-depressing effect. Not surprisingly, we seek out more sugar…and on it goes! Ever wondered why depression and weight gain are so often linked? There’s your answer!
The Fix: Tough love time - Avoid sugar and you’ll avoid the inevitable post-sugar crash. It's always wise to eat healthy, but now more than ever, your mood can't afford to take the hit.
So that’s the short list of “Pits” to look out for….and if you noticed ….there were only FIVE, so things are already better than they were when we started! Depression is serious. It’s also manageable and curable in the vast majority of cases. The road to recovery starts with some small steps - seeing your doctor and working with a trusted therapist. I’ll talk more about medication and depression in an upcoming article. In the meantime, if you'd like to know more about the success of PST in managing Depression, visit www.pstbythesea.com