Been feeling down and unmotivated for a while now? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Most people will experience a depressive episode or two in their lifetime, even if they don’t necessarily struggle with chronic depression. They can affect anyone, anywhere, although studies have suggested that more women than men tend to be affected.
A common misconception about depressive episodes is that they aren’t serious, and aren’t always treated with the same care and compassion someone struggling with chronic depression might be. Like depression and other mental health conditions, a depressive episode can trigger the same kind of negative thinking and emotion, which can spiral into more serious thoughts and feelings.
If you have been feeling stuck in a rut for a while now, or can sense a depressive episode coming on, then Morale to the rescue. We’ve put together our top tips to get yourself out of a depressive episode and back on track.
What is a depressive episode?
A depressive episode is classified as a ‘period of depression that persists for two or more weeks.’ In some instances, depressive episodes can stretch on for several weeks or months, with the average being around six to eight months.
People who have a history of mental health conditions, such as chronic depression, bipolar, or anxiety, as well as some physical conditions like diabetes or multiple sclerosis are at a higher risk of falling into a depressive episode. That said, depressive episodes can affect anyone, regardless of their health at the time.
Depressive episodes are often classified into minor or major, depending on the number and severity of symptoms present. Without proper attention, the risk of experiencing future depressive episodes is higher, and will typically last longer than the previous episode.
How to spot a depressive episode
As you might imagine, the symptoms of a depressive episode are the same as that of chronic depression. In order for a depressive episode to be diagnosed, several of the following symptoms must be present every day or almost every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, or sadness
- Fatigue, lethargy, or a lack of energy
- Feeling unmotivated
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Changes in appetite
- Irritability or frustration
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering
- Physical aches and pains
- Thoughts of death or suicide
How to get out of a depressive episode
Our guess is that you’re here because you or a loved one is struggling with a depressive episode at the moment. If that’s the case, then we’re here to help! The good news is, there are lots of ways that you can get yourself out of a depressive episode.
Track your symptoms
Knowing the signs is one of the first steps to catching an episode before it has a chance to take root and spiral out of control. By keeping track of your mood, thought patterns, and emotions you can monitor any changes or pick up on some early signs that a depressive episode might be on the way.
Journaling is a great way to keep track of your symptoms as well as any potential triggers that cause a depressive episode. It’s also a fantastic tool to keep yourself grounded, stopping those negative emotions from getting your mindset in a chokehold.
When you’re feeling rubbish and you’ve been in a funk for a while, feeling grateful is probably going to be low down on your list of priorities. But identifying all the good things in your life can help to put your mind back into perspective and help to make the negatives seem less overwhelming. A depressive episode can become all-consuming, and it’s easy to lose sight of all the things we take for granted. You can practice gratitude when you journal by writing down all of the things you’re grateful for and might be overlooking.
When you feel grotty with a cold or the flu, you want all the things that make you feel better and more comfortable. It’s not different when you’re in a depressive episode! Surround yourself with things that make you happy and help to take your mind away from the negativity swirling around inside your head. This could be anything from your favourite book, watching a funny comedy TV show, eating your favourite meals- anything that puts a smile on your face! Feeling up to this can be hard, as a common symptom of depression is a lack of interest in things that once excited you but try to push past this and do them anyway. You’ll still get some enjoyment out of it, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the beginning. And you’ll be practicing a great coping mechanism to manage your depression symptoms too!
Practice mindful thinking
Separating yourself from depression is an important way to remind yourself that you are NOT defined by your condition. Repeat to yourself “I am not depression” and think about all the other wonderful things that you are. You could also be a fantastic parent, sibling, friend, or spouse so make sure to focus on this instead. Practicing some daily affirmations can also help to boost your self esteem and improve your mindset and remind yourself that you’re capable of overcoming this depressive episode.
Reach out to people
Studies have shown that isolation and loneliness can exacerbate the symptoms of a depressive episode. Reaching out to a trusted friend or family member and making some plans will give you some much-needed social interaction. Even if you feel like you really don’t want to, it can make all the difference. You don’t have to do anything exciting or overwhelming, even just meeting a friend for coffee can help to brighten your day and start to pull you out of a funk. Talking about your emotions can also help to relieve some of the weight on your shoulders and help to put your feelings into perspective again.
Make a bedtime routine
Sleep can make all the difference in your mood and mental health. Sticking to a healthy bedtime routine and taking the time to wind down properly and prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep can help to counteract symptoms of depression and rejuvenate your energy reserves.
Even a small amount of exercise daily can work wonders to improve your mood. Exercise releases endorphins, also known as the body’s ‘happy hormones’. These happy hormones work to counteract the negative emotions circulating around the brain during a depressive episode and work hard to lift your mood. You don’t need to go off running marathons or hiking up mountains, just getting outside for 20 minutes of relaxed walking can stimulate a release of endorphins and make you feel happier.
Alcohol is a known depressant, so drinking when you’re already feeling a bit under the weather is only going to make you feel worse or trigger new symptoms. It can also counteract some of the medications for depression and anxiety, and either prevent them from working effectively or react badly to make you unwell.
If the depressive episode has lasted longer than 14 days, it’s probably time to reach out to someone for some help and guidance. Dealing with depression can be an overwhelming and isolating experience, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Reaching out to a family member or a friend who you are comfortable with to ask for help is an important step in the right direction. They will be able to help you find ways to improve your mindset and give you the support you need to start feeling better. Speaking to a therapist or your doctor might also be a good idea as they can recommend any treatments or tools you can use to help get yourself feeling right as rain in no time.
If things get really tough, there are a number of trusted charities and support groups designed to help people through depressive episodes. If you need someone to talk to, judgement free, please reach out to one of the associations below:
SANEline– If you are struggling with your mental health, or supporting someone who is. Call 0300 304 7000 between 4.30 pm -10.30 pm every day.
National Suicide Prevention Helpline– Offering a supportive listening service to anyone who is having suicidal thoughts. Call 0800 689 5626 between 6 pm – 3.30 am every day.
Shout– If you’d prefer not to talk, text SHOUT to 85258 for confidential mental health support.
Download the Morale app to help support your loved ones through a depressive episode. By sending positive daily affirmations, you can give them the self esteem boost needed to remind them that they are NOT defined by their depression and rewrite their mindset. No one should struggle through a depressive episode by themselves, so utilise your network to reach out to people you care about and reassure them that they aren’t alone. Positive affirmations are a fantastic tool to boost your mental health and shift a negative mindset to a more positive one. Download the app from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
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