4 Strategies for Battling Impending Depressive Episodes

You might feel done with depression. But that doesn’t mean depression is done with you. An unfortunate truth for many is that depression isn’t always a one-time deal. 

Unlike breaking a bone or catching a cold, depression tends to come back. An episode can strike when you least expect it. Getting caught off guard can make its return even more challenging to handle.

However, just because depression can be chronic doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. In fact, there are several ways you can fight back when you feel like you’re on the cusp of an episode. Here are four strategies you should have in your arsenal. 

1. Reach Out for Help

Think about your best friend. If they were seriously depressed, you’d probably recommend they seek help, right? Rather than shame them for reaching out, you’d encourage it. So why is it so hard to reach out when you’re the one who’s struggling?

Depression is insidious. It’s often so interwoven with anxiety and shame that even admitting you’re unwell can feel embarrassing. But don’t let that stop you. As an imperfect social creature, it’s only natural to need help from others. And you may be surprised to find how willing others can be to help.

If you feel a depressive episode looming, don’t wait. Reach out to someone you can trust and tell them what’s happening. If you don’t have anyone you can trust, seek professional help instead. Consider mental health rehab if you’re experiencing severe depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation. Remember: you don’t have to do this all on your own. 

2. Explore Creative Outlets

Sometimes depression strikes when you’ve bottled up too many emotions for too long. But experiencing those emotions is essential to moving past them. At the same time, you don’t want to overload your system with memories and sensations too great to handle. Many people turn to substances to either numb or channel their repressed emotions. You could turn to creative outlets instead. 

Whether you have a creative outlet or not, the onset of a depressive episode is the perfect time to turn to one. In fact, art therapy has a direct positive relation with easing depression and other mental stressors. Drawing and painting in particular can enable you to say what you need to say even if you can’t articulate it. 

That said, visual arts aren’t your only therapeutic outlets. Music, dance, sculpture — all forms of art can serve as avenues for expression of your inner turmoil. The best news? You can try your hand at art even if you don’t think you have a creative bone in your body. Remember, this isn’t about impressing anyone with your skills — it’s about arming yourself with another tool in the toolbox. 

3. Establish Control Through Routines

When depression strikes, you may feel like your life is out of your control. That’s because depression is a chaotic force that can pull the rug out from under you if you’re not careful. When it strikes, you begin to anxiously worry about everything that could and absolutely will go wrong. About how you’ll never be enough for all the things you want to realize in your life. This narrative is a lie propagated by focusing on things that are out of your control.

To combat depression, focus on what’s actually under your control: your behavior. Every day you make thousands of minute and seemingly meaningless choices. But keep in mind that the total accumulated effect of those choices is your behavior. So by tuning into and carefully considering your daily choices, you can influence your behavior. Slowly but surely, the effects of your decisions will snowball in a positive direction.

To start, focus on three of the essential pillars of health: eating, sleeping, and exercise. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Find a diet that feels good for your body and stick to it. Similarly, incorporate a mix of cardio and weightlifting into your weekly routine. The more you commit to these healthy routines and habits, the more structure and control you’ll have over your life. 

4. Surround Yourself With Positive Influences

Most people hang out with their friends because, at least at first, being friends was convenient. Maybe you met your friends in high school, college, or at work. You saw those people every day, generally liked the same things, and had the same humor, so you get along. Maybe hanging out like this turned into a lifelong friendship. And, many times, this is a great and beautiful thing.

Sometimes, however, your friends, co-workers, and even family members are actually sabotaging you. Think again of what you’d say to your friend if you knew they were feeling depressed. Would you encourage them, reminding them of their positive attributes and great accomplishments? Or would you undermine them with backhanded compliments or tell them they deserve it?

Be honest with yourself about what the people in your life are telling you. No rule says you need to associate yourself with people who zap your energy. You don’t need to spend your life feeling frustrated about certain relationships. Instead, surround yourself with people who love you for who you are and encourage you to be your best self. They’re the ones who will fight by your side when the dark clouds of depression begin to rumble. 

Be Patient and Endure

To state the obvious, the onset of a depressive episode sucks. You know what’s coming. But by using some of the suggestions here, you can equip yourself to fight the good fight. And, who knows? Maybe you’ll find yourself getting through the next one quicker and stronger than ever before. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *