Ways to Fight Depression

This was written by Elaine, a Moderator on the Brain Aneurysm website and I think will be very helpful to the members here, myself included.

I once read a sign in a friend's office. She had been a Social Worker, had become a minister and therapist for individuals combating substance abuse. Her sign said "If you think you can, you can. If you think you can't, you can't." It was a small reminder that we are in charge of our thoughts and actions and ultimately we are in control of our lives.

If we choose to not be helped, if we become naysayers to suggestions or advice that comes our way, there is no way we will be helped. We do in fact become our own worse enemy. Sometimes depression becomes so overwhelming, we fail to see a positive in anything and want to drag others down as well.

Many members are always asking me how I keep so positive. Well it's training, as simple as that but as difficult and grueling as teaching our bodies to run a 5K. Here's my thoughts, please feel free to add:

I was taught to look for the positives in families I worked with and expound on those positives. I learned to do it to myself so I could show others how I did it. I am a believer of practice what you preach. So look for the positives in yourself - are you a good friend, wife, husband, brother, sister, mother, father,child? Do you listen to what others are really saying and not what you think they are? Can you set aside your problems, difficulties and help someone else with theirs? What would you tell yourself if you were someone else with the same behaviors. What advice could you give yourself? Oh, there's a thousand things or more in which one can identify as a positive in themselves, just start looking. And please share with the group.

Exercise- Duke University did a study a few years back that showed 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week significantly reduced depression. Now I know that vigorous exercise may not be what we are physically able to do, yet. But take a walk around the block or a park if one is close by. Take your dog with you, take an elderly neighbor or a young parent with a baby. I started with my driveway and can now walk around the block! Which leads to...

Socialization. When we get depressed, we find it to be an effort to be with other humans. It tires us, we develop lots of excuses that we begin to take as fact. But research has shown being social helps our brains fight depression. Take it easy at first, go to a library where it is quite, work up to going to a store when it's not too busy, go out and eat meals with friends or family during slower restaurant hours. Know yourself, if I overdo in a social setting, I lose my words, my tremor gets bad, I find it difficult to concentrate. This doesn't stop me from putting in the effort and if it gets too bad, we go home. I rest and try something else. Every week I try to add another 5 or 10 minutes to an activity. Because I put in the effort, my friends and family are helping with reminders to keep my sunglasses on, wear a hat, drink some water - simple things that mean a lot.

Volunteer - perhaps you are no longer able to work, perhaps you can volunteer at a soup kitchen, a school to help children with academics, meals on wheels, senior center - can you think of other places?

Eat healthy - I see this over and over again. If your insurance allows, hook up with a dietician or nutritionist. In the mean time change out the junk food snacks for healthy fruits, vegetables, and nuts to name a few. Make sure you are getting enough protein for your brain to heal and stay hydrated so your brain can heal.

Journal - write down the good and the bad. What was happening, what triggered the feeling, how can you control it? Learn what makes you depressed and what makes you happy, focus energies on the positive as you learn to control your triggers.

Goals - set them, long and short. Break down long term goals into many short term goals. There are quite a few goal setters here, if you need help start a discussion. I believe many members can help you break them down into doable steps if you cannot.

Ask for help when needed. Asking for help is a positive, just don't ask if a friend or family member has just started a project of their own. Write it down
and come back to it when it's appropriate. Think how you would feel if asked to stop what you are in the middle of. At the same time, if it's truly imperative that something be done now, don't hesitate to ask.

Life is really not all about you. Take an active place in life. Be as independent as you can. I really can't cook by myself anymore. I can still grill with its slower pace. But it does help my partner and my family Sunday suppers if I can help prep, set the table, put food up. Yes I might take a little longer, but it still gets done. And it makes everyone feel good! I also do things my parents can't do like brush their dog, pick up limbs and twigs (sometimes with help of one of those grabbers), help with the computer. It's just finding ways to be a little more independent and at the same time being part of a group. What ways do you have?

Sleep - many of us experience insomnia or just the opposite, no energy to wake up. Practice good sleeping habits. Get the eight to ten hours needed in one shot. Try not to take so many naps during the day if you're not sleeping at night. Now coming out of ICU, I slept a lot. This is part of the healing process. When I overdo it, I need to sleep more. If I find myself staying up too late, I set the alarm for the next morning. I have had to relearn to sleep well. I had a job that I worked some nights, some days and nights and some days. I really didn't know when I was supposed to sleep. In ICU, I would be up at night mostly and try to sleep during the day. Crazy right!? All those doctors coming in during the day...took me awhile but my circadian rhythms are generally in line with the rest of the majority. Limit caffeine intake. Some of us have to stop caffeine mid day, some can't have it at all. Any other ideas?

Hygiene - some people who get depressed fail to take care of their hygiene properly. Take that shower or bath, brush your teeth, comb or brush your hair. Put on clean clothes.

Clean the house. This is probably one of the biggest tells of depression after hygiene. Our living space goes to Hades in a hand basket. Not only do we no longer care about ourselves, we don't care about our homes or vehicles. It's trying to get the energy just to get up. If you are physically able do an entire room in a day or two. If you're not physically able, break the room into sections like a piece of pie and do a section a day. Don't just move the stuff from one section to another! Put things up as you go. Ask the people you live with to pick up after themselves. Dirty laundry? Dirty dishes? While you are working on a room, do a load of laundry, wash the dishes or load the dishwasher. One pretty day in January, I cleaned my little truck. We had weeks of rain and cold. The truck had gotten muddy! And junk everywhere. Took me all day to clean the inside, vacuum, and wash outside. The next week, one of my friends needed to borrow it. I felt good knowing it was clean, and they couldn't believe how well I'd done. If you can't bend to do the laundry, have someone build a box to lift them, or help fold and hang up the clothes. Pick up after yourself. Can you imagine coming home from work just to find dirty dishes and trash piled around the person you love?

Numerous therapists have shared with me that if people limited negativity that comes into their life, they would start feeling better. Some ideas are to stop or drastically limit the news, either on television, newspaper, Internet. Limit what you read from the bloody, gory, and sad changing instead to humor. And don't forget what you watch on television or movie, as well as the type of music you might listen to. We generally keep things PG13 and down. Why? Because R has lots of violence. We try to listen, watch and read those things that are uplifting. This doesn't always happen, but we will end our day on a good note.

And as this group is all about breath and focus. Don't forget to practice breathing all the time. If you only try to do it when you need it, it will be very hard. If you practice daily whether you need it or not, it becomes second nature and you will start the minute you feel angst.

And as they said on Bones today -"Sometimes you just have to Dance to the music given to you...Dance to the music that's playing."

So the discussion is open - how are ways you fight depression?

Thank you for your post, and a reminder that negativity leads to negativity, and positivity leads to positivity. I have fought and still fight depression literally my whole life. When I am at my worst (at times suicidal) I force myself to think of something positive every hour. I write it down. Then as I get better I do once a day.

I admit that I have been really bad, and have forgotten my own advice. Sometimes it takes someone else saying how bad I am for me to realize it. Like you said, first goes my hygiene, and the housework. Right now I can barley get out of bed, for medical reasons. But I make myself get out off bed daily, and I try to make dinner at least 4 times a week, from a wheelchair in my kitchen. It really physically hurts to do so, but I still do it, or I will get even more depressed.

When I get bad, I mentally and physically force myself to do things. In the end, it really helps, but I have to remind myself that it’s for the best when the tears come from pain or exhaustion. Might not be able to finish what I started, at least I tried. The next day, or days, I continue. I might not finish it in a timely manner, but when I do, I really feel good.

Again, thank you for your post. It made me realize that I’m not trying enough, and medically, I’m letting my illness control me. I’ll talk to my boyfriend (of 21 years, lol) to help and hound me, if needed. He’s awesome about helping me, and putting up with me. LOL


Really right now I unraveling. It like WHT I do to stay positive someone or news rips my joy away. But I don’t give up on myself.

I fight depression also. I've taken to doing several things I find help me. 1: I try to get outside even if it is to sit on the porch steps for a few minutes. 2: I write notes to myself. "I'm grateful for..." I'm grateful that my husband is my best friend. I'm grateful for a wonderful bed. I can't always sleep but lying down on the bed feels wonderful. I'm grateful for this supportive website and all of you who contribute. Etc. 3. I've learned that I can go on social outings (to the botanical gardens to see Christmas lights, a travel vacation, a concert or ballgame) and if I wear out, no one thinks it's odd for me to return to the hotel room or go home early. Partly it's because I hang with oldsters (I'm the youngest at 60) who have problems themselves. And 4: Oprah writes about an AHA moment where she realized she would do nice things for her friends but not things she herself wanted. Doing for herself seemed selfish when in reality your friends would like you to do nice things for yourself too.

Socializing is hard. It requires getting out of the house or being on the phone. When I'm on the phone with someone I'm likely to have a lot to say, or they may, then I set the timer for what feels a do-able time. Sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes 20. When it goes off I hear it but so does the person I'm talking to. I tell them I've reached my limit before the onset of additional pain. I've never had anyone upset, they all seem to understand.

Doing volunteer work may be easier than you think. Many organizations will let you tell them how long you can work. One hour? They will gladly accept.

As for housecleaning, there is always so much to do that it can be overwhelming. I've been reading the motivational emails from FlyLady.net. She's talked me into setting my timer for 15 minutes to tackle a single task. That makes things more manageable. I can wash dishes for 15 minutes. I can start a load of wash in 15 minutes.

In fact, my timer is extremely helpful. I use it to prevent myself from overdoing it. I still make progress on whatever I'm doing but I don't do so much that I quit.

Music helps me to unwind, when relaxedI don't beat my self up at all. I make things for others giving makes me happy

I find that when I make an active choice to be happy, others around me are happier as well; and in return, making others happy, makes me happy : ) Lately, I've been trying to think of the positive things I'm thankful for when I'm in a lot of pain or feeling depressed. It helps me focus on the positive and what I HAVE versus what I don't have or what I am struggling with.


Great article, and some interesting and really helpful points made in this discussion. The timer sounds like a good idea too.

Before I became a fibro warrior (I heard it called that, sounds better than fibro sufferer), I suffered from a deep depression. I know exactly what made me turn the corner and start my recovery, when my first grandaughter was born I realised if I wanted to see more of her I would have to make more effort, and I did. Unfortunately not all of us can have this, but sometimes there is something that will make us and help us to start on the road to recovery.

Take care, Anne

I found this post to be very helpful and enlightening. Some of the examples given opened my eyes to the fact that I am most likely suffering from some depression. I love that everything is kept in a positive, uplifting vibe though. It makes me think deeper and encourages me to push past discomfort or thoughts and feelings of "I can't" all the time. Thank you so much for the post!

Blessings and prayers