Depression is not something that happens to a select few, everyone goes through depression in life, some incidents of depression may be mild and some severe. Major depression definitely require some professional help, but there are ways to keep the milder ones from building up to severe depression, if addressed at the right time.
Passing of a near one, break up of a relationship, failure to achieve what you set out to achieve, constantly comparing self to others, time away from near and dear ones, changes in your lifestyle, changes at work, all of these and many more can invite depressions of varying degrees. Not coming in terms with the issues and not taking control of your life in these situations can lead to major depression. I would like to put forward some suggestions on how we can keep these milder depressions from building up to a major one.
Understand that nothing is permanent in this world
The Buddhist religion is based on four noble truths, they are the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path that leads to the end of suffering. So Buddhism starts with acknowledging that there is suffering in this world and its unavoidable, it’s not to depress people but its to acknowledge the world as is. Whether you follow Buddhism or not something you can start with; is to understand that there is suffering all around us and we are not immune to it. It is also important to acknowledge that suffering is not permanent, there is always a way to come out of the suffering. In order to understand that, you don’t need to look far, just look back at your own life, how many times have you faced with situations in the past that you thought ‘this is it’ and ‘ it can’t get any worse’, and how many times have you got out of it? When you look back at them now, it’s just an incident from the past, life has moved on since, and it will move on from what you are facing now as well. Time is the biggest healer and it heals all kinds of wounds, you just have to work with it.
Accept and love yourself as you are
Many a times the core reason for depression can be a lack of love or acceptance of self, or an urge to compare self to others. This can bring about a lot of pain, and in turn damages your self-esteem. If you don’t accept yourself as you are, and love you as you are, then it will be difficult for you to accept others as they are, and in turn others to accept you.
“Accept yourself as you are, and that is the most difficult thing in the world, because it goes against your training, education, your culture. From the very beginning you have been told how you should be. Nobody has ever told you that you are good as you are. Dont be obsessed with yourself, but a natural self-love is a must. Only then out of it can you love somebody else. Accept yourself, love yourself. Nobody else has ever been like you and nobody else will ever be like you; you are simply unique, incomparable. Accept this, love this, celebrate this – and in that very celebration you will start seeing the uniqueness of the others, the incomparable beauty of the others. Love is possible only when there is a deep acceptance of oneself, the other and the world.” – OSHO
Forgive and forget
There are many who blames self for anything bad that happens around them. They are convinced that they are at fault for anything that doesn’t work out the way they expected it to be, they feel they are not good enough, they always repent over the way things were done, they keep blaming themselves for not doing things any other way which would have saved the situation. But let me tell you that it’s not always your fault, there are so many combinations and permutations in which the world around you can behave, and it’s not always in your control. Life is too short to be caught up in punishing self or others for all that is happening in life. Dont be too hard on yourself. Even if you are convinced it’s a fault of yours, learn to forgive self. If you don’t forgive self how can you forgive others? Forgiving and forgetting is what takes life forward, it’s what keeps life moving.
Find a purpose and work towards it
There can be situations; where your purpose in life has come to a sudden halt due to an unexpected incident which is pushing you towards depression. And there can also be situations where you are lost, and you see no purpose in life, where you see life as meaningless, this could also be pushing you towards depression. Either way it is time for you to find a new purpose to work towards. A sense of purpose is our fuel which keeps us moving forward in the track of life.
Its easier said than done, I have seen people who have lost a complete sense of purpose as a result of loosing dear ones to tragic incidents, they feel their existence has just hit a void, they don’t see a purpose in life anymore as their whole world was built around what they have lost. In order for them to bring a purpose back in life is not easy. But I have seen, heard of, and read about people who came out of those situations with a renewed sense of purpose, so it’s not impossible.
I recently read about a parent who lost both his sons in a tragic incident, that’s when his life hit the lowest point which pushed him towards depression. His sons were his world, his purpose in life was to see them grow up and flourish in life, he build all his wealth for them, but he managed to come out of that shock by finding a purpose, which was to support patients in need of treatment who cannot afford one. It has driven him for the last 15 years to work relentlessly for the welfare of the downtrodden and he has successfully beaten depression with his newfound purpose .
Get into a routine
Our mind is like a powerhouse, filled with unlimited power, but it needs an operator. If you let it run on its own without an operator then it takes control, and it may not always go the right direction. So you need to be the operator, you need to guide your thoughts and in turn guide your mind. You need to keep it busy so that it doesn’t go astray, and one way to keep it busy is by getting into a routine. It may not always be the right thing to do, but at times of depression it may be the best thing you can do to come out of it. Keep yourself busy with positive activities so that the mind is occupied with them whereby it has no time to churn out negativity. Do build in some physical activities which will keep you active into your routine. Exercising is a great way to start off with. Also fill your time with things that you love to do, but remove bad habits from it – like turning to alcohol or drugs can prove counter active.
Reach out to people who love and care for you
You may be hurt, your heart may be filled with agony, you may be going through extreme mental pressure, you may be stuck in a situation where you see no way out; this is the time you need to reach out to people who love and care for you. Sometimes all we need is to offload the feelings that s boiling inside us, and the best way to do that is to share it with someone. That is exactly what you do with your therapist, but you don’t always need a therapist to do that, you can count on the people who you trust and who cares for you.
In times of depression there is this human tendency to withdraw self, and hide behind solitude. It’s a simple biological defense mechanism to run away and hide from danger, but at times of depression we might see danger in anything and everything, that keeps us from sharing what we are going through with others. But it is important that we let that feeling out, sharing reduces stress and it also helps to find solution to the problems that you are going through, which in turn keeps us away from falling into depression.
Sometimes you need to observe and analyse what you are going through in life, which in turn will help you to come up with a new purpose, or new ways of taking life forward. And there is no better way of doing it than to travel. With travel you move away from your usual surroundings, you get to explore new places, meet new people, understand new ways of life, appreciate differences, understand different angles from which people view life, and you also get time to look within. Travel has changed the life of many including some of the well-known people we know of. It can change you as well, if you believe its time to take a break, and get in touch with yourself and the world around, then pick travel, you may discover a new you at the end of it.
P.S. Studies show that approximately two out of three people who commit suicide suffer from major depression first.