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Although depression afflicts many people, it’s important to focus on the little (or big) changes in life that can make depression more bearable.
My experience comes from my diagnosis of dysthymia, which is a form of depression that lasts at least two years and is characterized by “less severe symptoms” and sometimes major depression episodes, according to the National Institute of Mental Health website. I’ve had depression since I was about 10 years old, but recently at age 21 I became more proactive in my treatment. Even though I’m close to graduating from college and wish I had pushed myself sooner, there is no shame in working on yourself at any stage in life.
I’ve written about how diet, exercise, sleep, therapy, relationships, communication and stress can all contribute to depression, and I wanted to share how some changes in my life have helped me and could help you.
The small changes I have made recently are to see a therapist consistently, work on social relationships, have a healthier diet, exercise more and take breaks when necessary. All of these are gradual steps, because with depression it can be difficult to commit to too much at once. However, I have already noticed that my mood has improved and I haven’t had any major lows.
Therapy is a basic first step on the way to recovery. For me, it was a hurdle to find an affordable therapist, but it was worth the research. My therapist lets me vent and try to see my thoughts and problems in a new way. She makes me feel that there’s nothing wrong with me and that I have problems just like anyone else. Although there are more structured therapies available, even just talking out your problems with the right therapist can get you moving in the right direction.
Diet is also a natural step in the right direction. Food and liquids are such an important part of feeling good, according to multiple studies and experts. I’ve managed to cut soda mostly out of my diet, although a new problem is eliminating sugary drinks in general. I’ve also tried adding more salad and fruits into my diet, reducing processed foods and too many carbs, although it’s still a work in progress.