The following is a contributor article
Depression is fast becoming one of the most common diseases on the planet.
Unfortunately, it is also one of the most devastating.
It not only has an extremely high suicide rate, but it also places an incredible load on your family and friends.
Then, to make matters even worse, it is also physiologically damaging. In this manner, it contributes to declines in literally every aspect of your physical health.
Like I said – it is devastating.
But why does depression occur? And more importantly, how can you manage it?
Understanding How Depression Starts
For the longest time, depression was simply thought to be the result of a chemical imbalance in your brain.
So, many believed it was believed to be caused by physiological factors completely outside your control.
Consequently, it was thought of as a disease that could only be fixed with medication, talk therapy, ECT or TMS.
But leading experts in the field would argue otherwise.
Now, just to be clear, this is not to say that depression does not have physiological underpinnings – leading psychologists openly acknowledge that it certainly can – but they also realise that it isn’t as simple as that.
See, depression is a very complex disease that is multifactorial in nature.
The Internal Factors of Depression
We, as human beings, are wired for connection.
We have an innate need for frequent interactions in conjunction with deep and meaningful relationships.
Moreover, we need to live a life that provides us with a sense of purpose and meaning.
Without which, we suffer.
So, if you want to start looking for the cause of your depression, you may want to start your search by looking inward.
Ask yourself these questions
- Does your job give you a sense of purpose or meaning?
- Do you have a valuable way to spend your time outside of work?
- Are you reliant on drugs or alcohol to get you through the week?
- And finally, do you have a close network of people with whom you connect with on a truly deep level?
If you feel that you cannot respond to any one of these questions positively, then maybe it is time to start making some real changes to your life.
Always remember that….
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
The External Factors of Depression
As I mentioned above, it would be completely negligent to debate the fact that depression can be physiological in nature.
There is no doubt that those people who suffer from depression can have a markedly different chemical and neurological makeup to those that do not.
Science has shown this time and time again.
But You are Not Broken
People fail when they begin to accept this difference as a predetermined fact of life.
Something that cannot be changed.
Some people seem to believe that depression is an innate and unalterable component of who they are as a person – which is not necessarily the case.
See, things tend to happen for a reason.
And this holds especially true when it comes to the human body.
So What Needs Fixing?
Your body is a very complex piece of machinery. Consequently, to optimise its potential every single day, you need to have all its needs met.
You need to have adequate nutrients available to facilitate cellular function. It certainly needs enough energy (vitamins, minerals, calories) to survive the day which you can test for. And of course, it also needs the opportunity to recover from the demands of the day.
And if these needs aren’t met?
Well, things start to fall apart rather quickly.
If you find that your diet consists of nothing but carbs and caffeine, then maybe you should start including some meat and vegetables into your routine. If you are not eating anything until dinner, then maybe start your day with a mid-morning breakfast.
BY addressing the underlying problems, you can actually change your physiology – and then you will see some seriously positive changes in your mental health as a result.
How to Manage Your Depression
Understanding what depression is and how it occurs is only half the battle.
While it certainly gives insight into what you can do to improve your depressive symptoms, it does very little in terms of telling you how to do it.
That’s the true key to making a change.
1) Find Meaning
As I alluded to above, having a life that provides a sense of purpose and meaning is integral to your happiness.
In many cases, it is what provides you with the drive to get out of bed in the morning. And it is what creates the feeling that your life has genuine value.
But finding meaning is also much easier said than done.
The key is finding something that not only brings you joy, but also serves others. A task or activity that engages you to your core, while also bringing genuine value into the lives of other people.
For some, this could very much be related to work. They may find a job that they are passionate about doing, and that helps other people in the process. For others, it may revolve around doing their best to provide for their friends and family.
“When we have meaning in our life, a purpose, a goal, we are then part of the world, living in it, not on it, contributing to it, not just taking from it. As humans, the search and discovery of meaning in our lives is imperative to our continued existence. It is not selfish to be happy; it is self-preservation.” says to Dr. Lindsay Israel, the Chief Medical Officer and depression specialist at Success TMS.
I know that for me personally, I get up and face every day with the intent to build a life that is better for my daughter. It is this goal – this sense of purpose – that provides me with the drive to work hard and be a contributing member of society.
2) Build Connections
Often the people in your life are those that also happen to fill it with meaning, purpose, and joy.
Life is not all sunshine and rainbows – in fact, the outside world can a dark place full of horrors.
See, the world as we know it is chaos.
Which is why it is so hard to traverse alone.
Let’s face it – trying to simply get by without any support is one hell of a challenge. And trying to thrive in the world that we live in without any support at all?
Well, it is near impossible.
You need people to take part in your darkest moments. The freedom to speak your mind and share your deepest thoughts is essential to helping you see the world around you clearly. It allows you to navigate tough decisions and realise that things are larger than yourself, and often better than they first appear.
These relationships make the tough times easier, and good times more meaningful.
So, go above and beyond to find your tribe. Search for people that share your passions, your interests, and your ideals. Make a conscious effort to connect with them, and then to spend quality time with them.
Because it is so much better than going it alone.
3) You Better Have of Routine
The world is chaotic.
It is a place of frequent uncertainties and daily undulations.
Every time you step out the front door, you face a unique set of challenges that you have never seen before.
While they may indeed be similar to those you faced yesterday, you can never be sure that they are in fact the same – nor that they ever will be.
And this sense of uncertainty is not good for the mind.
It creates stress and leaves your brain and your body in a state of discomfort and unease. And the really scary thing to consider is that if this chaos is constant in all aspects of your life, then you will be in a permanent state of uncertainty.
Because, in short, you have nothing safe in your life to anchor yourself too.
And yes, while you might have friends and family that offer you support, anchoring yourself to something that you cannot control creates just another dose of uncertainty. It further inhibits your ability to control your own life.
Stability is Essential To Your Mental State
Creating a sense of order in your life is integral to both your sanity and your happiness.
Routine creates a constant that you can always fall back on. It’s where your mind knows what to expect, and therefore how to act.
Routine creates a remedy to all the chaos that life throws at you every single day.
And the easiest way to find order is through that routine.
A solid routine ensures that your life has structure.
- Make sure that you start your days at a consistent time.
- Eat at regular intervals.
- Go to sleep at the same time every night.
Many imbalances in your body can be recalibrated by following these 3 essential daily steps.
As monotonous as this may sound, it is this sense of routine that fights against the chaos of life and provides the foundation from which your happiness can be built.
It is a simple step, but also a very powerful one.
Life can be incredibly challenging, and as a human, you are by nature imperfect – but that is no reason to despair.
Having imperfections also means that you have room for growth. It means that you have room for improvement. It means that you have room for change.
So, take that first step and strive for more. Seek a life full of meaning and purpose. Create connections and build relationships. Take responsibility for your life in every aspect. Make the changes necessary to manage your depression– and make sure to never give up on yourself.