When Depression Debilitates
As I have said before, depression is a whole-body disease, that limits and damages every aspect of your life. It can hamper and ruin relationships, limit job performance and even cause physical problems beyond feeling sad and lifeless. But what happens when that depression – that disease – is so powerful that it is debilitative? What happens when depression keeps you in bed, not even allowing you the energy to get up? This may sound more like laziness but for a significant percentage of people who suffer from depression, it is their disease and their daily life. It does not have to be that way, and if this sounds like you, read on and I will highlight some ways you can help yourself.
The stranglehold depression has on you is really limiting the ability your mind and body have to take care of themselves and heal. The focus of this treatment strategy is to help build energy, motivation and support for you to help you do what you naturally know will soothe your pain. What I recommend is taking steps to encourage other steps, building off one success to create the next one. While we all naturally want to do the one thing, take the one pill that will make this go away, depression is not like that. It is a process towards getting healthy again, and that process is taken in small steps at the beginning.
One of the first things that will help is medication. It may require someone to help you get there, even dial the number to your doctor’s office for you and hand you the phone, but it is likely necessary at this point. Antidepressants are not always the answer and will probably not be a complete cure for you. I say this just so your expectations are properly set up, and you do not come away disappointed and dejected after trying some medication and not having it take away all the suffering. Antidepressants can help break through some of the worst of the symptoms and give you some energy back. What I am talking about here is building off successes and create more energy and desire for healthier functioning. Taking medication can be one way to create energy and motivation for health.
For debilitating depression, goal setting is very helpful. Your routine prior to suffering from depression is a good starting point. With this as a final goal, you can start to set very small goals for yourself to get back to what was normal before depression took that away. This does not have to be the final destination; you can and should strive to be better than you were, but for right now, let’s use that as the beginning goal.
Now give yourself some basic goal(s) every day. This does not, and should not be complex things, like writing that report for work. If depression has you so debilitated that you cannot get out of bed, you should set your goals according to the energy you have. Start with goals like showering. Or making breakfast. It may not seem like much but look at it from the perspective of building energy. Small victories and accomplishments are invigorating and serve to help build more energy. Soon you will be making lunch as well, leaving the house to get the mail and other things. Combatting severe depression is about taking victories in inches at the beginning.
Another suggestion for treating severe depression is seeking support from those around you, and professional help as well. Having people in your life that care for you and understand your depression will be vital in helping you build motivation. More importantly, even if it is just a therapist in your life, they can hold on to hope for you until you can have hope for yourself.
Depression in many ways is a thief that takes hope and future possibilities from you. What you need to remind yourself, daily, hourly, as often as your mind will allow, is that it will not always be like this. It will get better. Holding onto hope will do a lot more than any medication or therapy because hope will keep you going. Some find comfort in religion scripture during these dark times, but wherever it come from, hold onto hope when you can.
One final piece of advice for people with a serious depressive condition comes from 12 step programs. Remember that this is just for today. You are just focusing on today and getting through this day. Keeping your head and your heart in the present will go a long way towards healing from this emotional turmoil. You are not trying to be happy tomorrow. You are not trying to have energy tomorrow. You are just trying to do this for today and that is all you can do.
Seeing someone with a serious debilitating depression can be painful to watch when it is someone you love, but when it is you going through it, it is torture. It can sap your energy and your will to live. If this sounds like you, or someone you love, I urge you to seek help and find your ways to build energy and move towards a healthier future. Please reach out to me if depression is ruining your life, you do not have to be alone with this.
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