No one likes to be depressed.  Yet over 17 million adults have had at least one depressive episode. The voice of depression says you cannot move out of the darkness blanketing your life. However, nothing could be further from the truth. There is much you can do to lift yourself out of that stuck place.

First, it is important to understand that depression can arise from many different causes. Some types of depression are caused by genetic/biological factors. PMS, hormone changes related to giving birth, menopause, medication side-effects, poor diet or disease can bring on depression. Other depressions are rooted in psychological, cognitive, or spiritual causes like troubled family experiences, stress over postmodern living, social inequities,  poverty and abuse, loss, negative thinking, unresolved hurt and anger and poor coping responses. Lifestyle factors also play a role in depression, e.g., lack of sleep, lack of exercise, poor diet, etc.

Thus, your first step is to identify a cause for the depression. It helps to see both a therapist and your physician to identify the cause, to improve your mood and start living again. Here are 10 ways to help with depression.

  1. Get a physical to rule out any biological cause that may be treatable. Since depression can come on from physical changes related to disease, medications and more, having a physical check up with your physician is a good first step. You may have to address physical causes.
  2. Take care of your body by eating well, getting enough sleep and engaging in regular exercise. Making a few lifestyle changes could be a game changer. It’s worth a try and will certainly help.
  3. If antidepressant medication is needed, don’t feel stigmatized using it. It may be a healing agent. And sometimes it takes awhile to find the right medicines that work. So if you need medication, use it to stabilize your mood.
  4. Acknowledge negative feelings of anger, unforgiveness or hurt. Unforgiveness often contributes to feelings of depression. So, release those negative feelings by talking, praying and working through relationship problems. Forgiveness is a process to work that often takes time. But we are to forgive those who have wronged us (Colossians 3:13). And when we do, it releases a burden.
  5. Align your behavior with your beliefs. The dissonance between what you belief and how you act often causes distress and anxiety–both contributors to depression as well. So, deepen your spiritual life to empower you to live according to your beliefs.
  6. Renew your mind (Phil 4:8; Romans 12:2) and address your thought life. Depression is often fueled by negative thinking. Start by rehearsing the promises of God (Psalm 91; Romans 8:38). Develop realistic expectations. Remember that difficulty is part of life but God promises His presence (Hebrews 13:5) to walk you through toughest times.
  7. Manage your negative emotions. Don’t let them manage you. Emotional regulation is part of the work you do in therapy. Learn what triggers depression and learn new ways to respond. Pay attention to suicidal thoughts and talk to your therapist if those arise.
  8. Change your behavior. Be around positive people. If negative thinkers bring you down, find those who experience joy in living and spend time with them. Leant to be assertive in order to get your needs met. Additional, Ddo something for someone else. Take the focus off you.  And even if you don’t feel like it, take action (e.g., get out of bed, go to church).
  9. Get support. Isolation and loneliness make depression worse so it is important to establish a support network. This may require joining a group.
  10. Correct your self-image through the Word of God (Ps. 139:14; Eph. 2:10). Accept God’s love for you. It is unconditional (John 3:16). Trust in God, not circumstances or people (Philippians 4:19). Pray for healing (2Timothy 1:7). Get to know your heavenly Father. He wants to give you good things and bless you (Psalm 84:11). God wants you experiencing His joy no matter the circumstances of your life. Keep hope alive!
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