The exhaustion is overwhelming, and it feels like 20-pound weights have been attached to all of your limbs after an 18-hour workday and you still have a mountain of stuff to do.
Major depressive disorder is a mental illness caused by the brain not producing enough of the chemical serotonin, one of the hormones that controls your happiness. Symptoms include feelings of sadness or irritability, loss of motivation, feelings of worthlessness and more, and like most mental illnesses, depression is extremely personal. Those who struggle with depression experience symptoms in their own way, but there are several steps that everyone can take to help themselves get through the day.
Step 1: Call your therapist
Depression leaves me feeling unmotivated, so the first thing I do when I feel depressed is immediately call my therapist and schedule an appointment. It doesn’t matter what time of day it is — even if you are laying down in bed, pick up the phone and call your doctor. Otherwise, you’ll probably do the same thing as me and talk yourself out of it.
Step 2: Do something for YOU
Depression makes it hard to enjoy yourself. That’s why it is so important to get your butt out of bed and force yourself to do something you have fun doing. Whether it’s listening to music or reading a book, things that require minimal effort but still get you to think about something other than the depression. Doing something easy yet enjoyable is also a great way to get yourself ready for the bigger challenges throughout the day.
Step 3: Endorphins are friends
The next thing you should do is probably the most physically demanding — exercise. You shouldn’t try for a long, tiring workout. Do yoga in your room or a quick five-to-ten-minute circuit at home.
When you are depressed, it is pertinent that your body moves. Endorphins are some other hormones in your brain that regulate your happiness and, according to the Mayo Clinic, helps ease symptoms of depression.
Step 4: Clean, clean, clean
Depression thrives in a dirty environment. In fact, a dirty environment can make you depressed even if you weren’t to begin with.
When depression hits me like a train, I clean at least three things that day. Setting a specific number of things to get done in a day keeps me motivated on days I have little to none left. Even taking a shower counts as one thing because feeling dirty is one of the biggest triggers for my depression, and it gives me one less reason why not to leave my house that day.
Step 5: Get your friend on
Serotonin is created when you feel important or significant. When serotonin lacks, loneliness and depression set in.
This is why it is so important that you hang out with friends when you feel depressed, no matter how much energy you have. Invite people to hang out with you and let them know what is going on. If you don’t feel like leaving your apartment, that’s OK. Make a compromise with yourself — someone comes over, you can stay in.
Depression is hard. When it feels like you’ve been knocked out by depression, getting up and facing the day can seem impossible. But if you’re willing to work for it, you can have a happy life despite something that is, in the end, only a diagnosis.