Contrary to popular belief, beating depression is something that can be done without the aid of medication or psychological treatment. Depression is not an inherited disease, an imbalance of brain chemicals, or the result of circumstances beyond your control. It’s a condition that comes about when basic physical and emotional needs are not met, and when we interpret events in a certain way. The key to beating depression, then, is to understand and meet those needs, and to learn a more helpful way of interpreting the things that happen to us.
1. Basic Physical Needs
All human beings need good sleep, good nutrition, and adequate amounts of exercise. These things are the absolute essentials for good physical and emotional health. If you’re exhausted, unfit and living on a diet of junk food, caffeine and alcohol, you’re far more likely to suffer from depression.
The first thing you need to do, then, is to review your lifestyle and see where changes can be made. Ensure that you get a good night’s sleep, change to a healthier diet, and look to do some form of exercise at least three times a week. Beating depression is often just a matter of making changes in these basic areas.
2. Basic Emotional Needs
As well as physical needs, all human beings have emotional needs, and it’s just as important that these are adequately met if we’re to avoid depression. The main thing to remember is that we’re social, problem solving animals, and our emotional needs are a result of that. Thus, we all need a sense of connection to other people and to the wider community, a sense of security and safety, and a sense of achievement and healthy challenge. You can go a long way towards beating depression by making a list of these needs, and seeing which ones aren’t being met at the moment. Look at ways in which you could improve your scores in each area. If you’re feeling socially isolated, for example, is there some way that you could increase your contact with other people, perhaps by joining a club or society.
3. Interpreting Events
Of course, bad things do happen from time to time. But depression is always an extra problem on top of that. It’s not so much what happens, as how we explain it to ourselves. A depressed person tends to take bad things very personally. They believe that the bad stuff is going to last forever, and the good stuff is only temporary. Beating depression means taking control of these sorts of thoughts, and challenging them when they happen.
A healthier way to look at things is to maintain your perspective. Remember, nothing lasts forever, not even depression, and the universe is not conspiring against you as an individual. It’s also useful to isolate the bad things, so that they don’t take over your whole life. If you’re having a tough time at work, for instance, it may be that your family life is still going well.
Once you understand the mental, physical and emotional circumstances in which depression breeds, beating depression becomes much simpler and easier to achieve.