Are you struggling with depression? If you answered yes, then youâ€™re likely feeling low energy and struggling to get motivated. This lack of energy and motivation makes it difficult for you to engage in your typical routine and engage in productive roles; making you feel like you â€ścanâ€™tâ€ť do anything until your depression subsides. However, waiting for motivation to come before taking action is impossible because action comes before motivation. Taking even the smallest step, like getting out of bed, will build momentum to taking another small step. It will feel impossible, but you CAN do it and you will feel better afterwards.
Below are a few further tips to fighting depression:
Therapy Goals: Talking to a professional or someone you feel close to is big part of recovery. However, a lot of people go to therapy, while taking medications, and donâ€™t actively participate in the session or complete any of the assigned therapy homework. Itâ€™s important to evaluate what you want from therapy and recognize that therapy wonâ€™t work if youâ€™re not 100% invested and willing to put in the work. Before every therapy session, write down exactly what you want from the session, the timeline to achieve it, and how you will achieve it. Fighting depression requires constant active participation.
Engage in Pleasurable Activities: With a lack of motivation being a common symptom of depression, it can be hard to start your day. You may be overwhelmed with the number of tasks youâ€™ve been putting off and this just makes it harder to pick a place to start. However, in knowing that action comes before motivation, it may feel less daunting to start by doing something thatâ€™s enjoyable in order to build the momentum for the other less desirable tasks.
Physical Exercise: Exercise has been found to improve mood and sleep and reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. This is because exercise releases a chemical in your brain called endorphins, which is known to reduce your perception of pain. People usually donâ€™t exercise because they aim too high with their expectations of what exercise should look like and how many times a day they should be doing it; making exercise feel like a big task thatâ€™s unachievable. However, the key to getting into exercise is to start small. You can start by taking a 10-minute walk around the block and retuning home. Remember that any small amount of exercise is better than none at all!
Eliminate the word â€śCanâ€™tâ€ť: Fighting depression is mentally and physically exhausting and it seems easier to quit than to move forward. We often use the word â€ścanâ€™tâ€ť to describe why weâ€™re not engaging in certain tasks. However, the medical definition of â€ścanâ€™t,â€ť means physically being unable to participate in something. For example, being unable to walk because youâ€™re paralyzed and in a wheelchair. So I challenge you to replace the term â€ścanâ€™tâ€ť with â€śI donâ€™t want toâ€ť because itâ€™s not that you are physically incapable of for example getting out of bed, but rather you donâ€™t want to get out of bed because it is hard. This is not meant to diminish the difficulty of engaging in a task when you have depression, but rather shed light to the fact that you always have a choice, even if the choice feels impossible.
In summary, the key to fighting depression is to maximize all 4 areas of treatment: 1. Medication, 2. Psychotherapy, 3. Exercise, and 4. Social Engagement. If you only address one area, for example taking medications, and ignore the other 3 interventions, than youâ€™re likely not going to succeed because youâ€™re only receiving ÂĽ of your treatment. So make sure to take a small step in each of the areas and eliminate your negative self-talk because depression is hard! Be kind to yourself because depression is a disease. It does NOT define who you are as a person.
By: Maleeha Khan
Maleeha is currently doing a double major in Human Biology and Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology at the University of Toronto. Her current research focuses on the sex differences in factors predicting conversion from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. She is interested in pursuing MD after her undergraduate degree and helping third world countries dealing with neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’sÂ and Dementia.