A depressive episode resembles a heavy darkness that won’t go away. It can be accompanied by panic, anxiety, deep sadness and a feeling of hopelessness.
When you have a depressive episode it’s tempting to get lost in the darkness believing that there will be no end to it but the reality is that, each episode, no matter how long it lasts, will eventually come to an end.
Below are things you can do to help you manage when depression strikes.
1. Acknowledge your feelings
It’s normal to dread a depressive episode. But at its onset, acknowledge how you feel. Avoid running away from the crippling darkness. Instead, stop, breath in and out and calm yourself down. Remind yourself that this feeling will not last and just like other illnesses, it’s treatable. Remind yourself that you are strong and quite capable of overcoming this episode just as you have in the past.
2. Make lists
One common outcome of depression is a bad memory and a lack of motivation to get even the basics done. Combat this by making lists. Start with a to-do list including even the mundane things like taking a shower, making your bed, having breakfast and getting dressed. Make short-term goals, things that will be easy to achieve. Lists are a great way to lighten the burden on your brain making it easier to manage the depressive episode and stop feeling overwhelmed.
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Include a gratitude list, things you admire about yourself, people who care about you, things you have accomplished, etc.
The purpose of these lists is to reduce the clutter in your mind, remind you of who you are and give you a reason to smile and be happy about your life.
3. Get moving
I know the only thing you want to do now is get lost in your thoughts while sitting in a dark room but trust me, that will only make things worse. Instead, get working on your to do list. Take a shower. Put on that outfit that makes you feel pretty (this will help boost your confidence). Tidy your room/house; visible clutter contributes to the clutter in your mind. Prepare or order a meal you enjoy and actually eat it. Drink water. Eat a fruit. Go for a walk. Resist the temptation to isolate yourself.
4. Identify your triggers
Is it something someone said or how a friend or loved one treated you? What led to the depressive episode? Identifying this can help you manage the episode better. And, if the trigger is something you can get rid of, say a toxic relationship, it can help reduce the chances of a depressive episode.
In the same vein, it’s important to identify when the episode is flaring up. These warning signs may vary from person to person but knowing them can help you take quick action like talking to your therapist or trusted friend. This will help you decipher triggers and make the episode less intense.
5. Practice self-care
If you’re struggling with your mental health, you need to make self-care a priority. And when you’re going through a depressive episode, now is the time to take extra care of yourself. Make sure you sleep enough, exercise, meditate. If getting your hair and nails done cheers you up, get them done. The point here is to energise yourself and seek those things that will improve your mood even as you stay away from your triggers.