What is depressive episode?
A depressive episode is defined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) as a two-week time in one’s life during which one display the symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD). When a person has a depressive episode, they might try to adjust their ideas and behaviors to help them feel better. During a depressive episode, a person will encounter a low or sad mood and/or a loss of interest in most activities and a variety of other depression symptoms, including fatigue, lack of appetite, feelings of hopelessness, and repeated thoughts of death.
In this blog, I will discuss multiple ways that a person with depression can use to get out of a depressive episode or reduce it.
Accepting where you are
Depression is a serious illness that can be painful and overwhelming. It’s important to recognize that it takes time to get out of depression, to find the right help, and for treatments to work for you.
Recognize that depression is not just a passing stage or feeling. Depression is not just “feeling blue” or being sad. It can last a long time—weeks, months, even years—and can lead to emotional and physical problems if left untreated.
Reach out to your loved ones.
When you’re feeling down, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that there are people who can help you. Remember: depression is an illness, and just like with other illnesses, those around us can help us get better.
Reach out to your loved ones. It’s important to have a strong network of social support when you’re dealing with depression. Make sure the people you reach out to are trustworthy, empathetic individuals who will be there for you without question or judgment. Examples of people who fit this description may include a close friend or family member, a romantic partner, or even a pet if they provide comfort!
Talking to your doctor
Treatment plans are necessary.
A path should be laid out to help you understand how to get out of your depressive episode. A plan is essential because you’ll be able to identify the ways depression can impact your life and what steps you can take to control it. For example, a doctor may suggest antidepressants as part of your treatment plan.
They may also recommend therapy sessions, whether one-on-one with a professional counselor or group sessions with peers who have also been diagnosed with depression. You’ll have an easier time planning on tackling their symptoms when you know the tools available for coping with depression.
Being in the moment
If you want to be in the moment, start by being aware of your thoughts. Your thoughts are usually focused on the past or future, and these will bring up feelings of regret and anxiety. You can recognize this happening when you notice that your feelings aren’t tied to the thing you’re doing at the moment. When this happens, try and refocus on what you’re doing right now. Try taking a few deep breaths and placing all your attention on your breath. Once you’ve done that, expand your attention to whatever you’re doing: walking down a path, eating lunch, watching TV—whatever it is!
This exercise helps because if we’re aware of our thoughts (as well as their effects), we have a chance to do something about them—like changing them from negative ones to happy ones!
Keeping a journal
Do what you’ve always done to get through depressive episodes: write down your thoughts and feelings. If you’re writing down your feelings, keep it simple. The more complicated and detailed these thoughts are, the harder they’ll be for you to sort out and put into perspective. Write down whatever comes up in your mind; don’t hold back emotions and details that might help you understand yourself better if they come up later.
For more details read our blog about “How to Journal for Mental Health”
Learning how to meditate
Meditation is another great tool that can help you deal with depression. There are many forms of meditation, and the one I found most helpful is called Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM). HRM helps you get into a meditative state by counting your heartbeats. A few minutes of this stillness allows your brain to rest from the constant chatter that it might otherwise be engaged in during stress or depression. A number of studies have shown that regular meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and even lower blood pressure.
Exposing yourself to the sunlight
Not every day will be sunny, but when it is, do your best to use sunlight. You can get your dose of vitamin D sitting in the sun at a nearby park or going for a walk around your neighborhood on the weekends. It’s important to get sun exposure every day, even if it’s just opening up your curtains and letting some natural light into your home. If you live in an area with frequent cloudy days and limited sunlight, consider getting a light therapy box that mimics natural outdoor light.
Take the first step and talk about it.
The first thing you should do when you feel like you are in a depressive episode is talk about it. It is important that whoever you talk to is someone who can understand and someone who will not judge.
The people closest to us are the best candidates, but there are times when we cannot talk to them because we don’t want them to worry or because they might not understand how we feel. Or maybe, there is just nobody around. In this case, it is best if we go out there and seek help from competent individuals such as professionals and medical practitioners.