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Things You Can do Right Now to Help Get Through a Depressive Episode

Depression can become a chronic health condition, even with quality treatment. In fact, studies involving patients with depression show that over a 10-year period, 85% will experience a recurrence of symptoms. In addition, at least 50% will experience a recurrence within six months of going into remission if their treatment is stopped. Among those who take antidepressants, a recurrence of symptoms will occur within about 40 months, on average, and those who stop taking antidepressants will have another episode of depression a year later, on average. 

What all of this means is that once you’ve undergone depression treatment, it is likely you will experience another episode of depression down the road. Continuing your treatment, whether it’s in the form of counseling, medication, or both, can help you to manage symptoms and increase the length of time between depressive episodes. That being said, you might still have a recurrence of depression symptoms, despite your best efforts. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help you cope when you’re in the midst of a depressive episode. 

Using Effective Coping Strategies for Depression

Developing strong coping skills is critical if you want to manage depression symptoms and reduce the impact that they have on your daily life. Keep in mind that depression presents a little differently for everyone, so some coping strategies may be incredibly useful for you, whereas others may not be as effective.

Some helpful coping strategies to try are detailed below. 

Recognize the Early Signs of a Depressive Episode

There are numerous symptoms of depression, and everyone will show a slightly different symptom profile. For instance, some people with depression may feel sad most of the time, whereas others may find that they have an irritable mood. Furthermore, some people lose their appetites during a depressive episode, whereas others may eat larger amounts. For some individuals, depression may cause feelings of fatigue that leave them exhausted after completing daily tasks, whereas others may be so fatigued that they sleep excessively. 

When you begin to notice your usual warning signs of a depressive episode, it’s time to take action. Explore what might have set the depressive episode into motion, whether it is ongoing conflict within your relationship or a recent stressor at work. When you get to the root of the problem, you can take steps to address it. Identifying warning signs early can also motivate you to reach out to a supportive friend or resume counseling, so you can begin working through the depressive episode before it becomes more severe. 

Tell Yourself the Depressive Episode is Temporary

When you’re in the throes of a depressive episode, you can get caught up in negative thinking, and you might convince yourself that you’re going to feel this way forever. Remind yourself that depression is a chronic condition, and just like any other medical condition, you may have flare ups from time-to-time, but with ongoing treatment, you can learn to manage. It’s important to remember that a depressive episode is just a temporary flare-up, and it might be helpful to think of times when you weren’t depressed, to place the situation in context and allow yourself to see the light at the end of the tunnel. When you acknowledge that you won’t feel this way forever, it can be easier to conquer daily life and take other steps needed to get through an episode of depression. 

Prioritize Self-Care

When you’re prone to depression, you may feel pushed to work yourself to the point of exhaustion. Perhaps you engage in negative self-talk and tell yourself that you need to accomplish more, or you aren’t worthy. Remember that these are lies we tell ourselves when we are caught up in patterns of negative thinking. Instead of pushing yourself to the point of burnout, be intentional about practicing self-care. Researchers have found that chronic stress makes people more vulnerable to recurrent episodes of depression. Practicing self-care, which can include taking time to relax, engaging in regular physical activity, making time for your hobbies, and connecting with friends, can reduce your stress levels and help you to manage depressive symptoms. Self-care is also a superior alternative to unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking, drinking, overworking, and withdrawing socially, which tend to make depression worse. 

Be Compassionate With Yourself

If you live with depression, you may have difficulty being kind to yourself. Your tendency to think negatively about yourself can lead to the feelings of worthlessness and helplessness that can appear during a depressive episode. This means that when you begin to experience depression symptoms, you may be especially hard on yourself. Perhaps you tell yourself, “Just get over it!” or, “Snap out of it!” This isn’t a helpful way  of thinking, and it will probably only make you feel worse. 

Practicing some self-compassion can go a long way toward helping you to overcome the feelings you experience during a depressive episode. Give yourself some grace, and allow time to heal from depression. Understand that you’re going through a tough period right now, and you may need to grant yourself extra time for rest, or say no to additional obligations. Instead of feeling badly about yourself for taking this time, recognize it as a necessary step toward overcoming the depressive episode.  

Reach Out to Others

It may be easier said than done when depression symptoms are leaving you exhausted, but when you’re in the midst of a depressive episode, it is more important than ever to reach out for help. In some cases, this may involve talking to a trusted friend or family member, who can check up on you and help you through the episode. Sometimes, having someone there to encourage you or invite you out for coffee or to see a movie can lift your mood and prevent you from sinking deeper into depression.

Other times, you may need to seek outside support to get through a depressive episode. Attending a support group may be helpful, but some people find that they need to return to seeing their therapist or taking medication if they are experiencing recurrent depressive episodes. There is no shame in seeking professional intervention for depression; remember, it is a legitimate health condition, and recurrent episodes are common.

If usual treatment strategies for a depressive episode are not providing you with the relief you need, it may be time to consider transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). TMS is utilized when a patient has treatment-resistant depression, which is a form of depression that does not respond to traditional depression treatments. TMS is a non-invasive depression treatment, and it involves placing a device over the head to activate areas of the brain linked to mood. 

TMS can be added to your usual treatment regimen, including counseling and medication, to help you get through a depressive episode. Pulse TMS provides this service to patients in the Los Angeles area. We are located just off of Santa Monica Blvd., and our office is convenient to I-405. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

Article By: admin-pulsetms