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Opinions of Friday, 16 October 2020

Columnist: Edith Zikpi

Ten (10 ) steps to dealing with depression

File photo: In Ghana, four(4) to five (5) of every ten(10) persons suffer from depression File photo: In Ghana, four(4) to five (5) of every ten(10) persons suffer from depression

Most often than not, we find ourselves in relationships that turn our lives into books filled with chapters of heartbreaking mysteries or lose a loved one or our jobs. At this point, all that is written on our faces is depression.
We pretend that things are fine—which is easier than telling the truth; believe that things will never get better no matter what happens; we are unable to recall what “normal” or “happy” feels like. We feel trapped in our personal hell with no escape and isolate ourselves from our family and all who care for us.

In Ghana, four(4) to five (5) of every ten(10) persons suffer from depression. Here comes the big question —what is depression? Depression is a persistent feeling of sadness or hopelessness that interferes with a person’s everyday activities. The feeling of hopelessness, anger, weight loss or gain and fatigue for two(2) weeks are signs of depression.

Many people are high-functioning people like us, who appear “normal” on the outside but are inwardly struggling with the demons that are always present. Living with depression is exhausting and drains the energy and life out of you.
But here's the great news—you can beat depression and start to live life again. Wondering how?

1. Identify the source of your depression
Without knowing the source of your depression, you might not know what the next step should be. Remember that, not all depressions are the same. Figure out the cause of your depression before you make any drastic changes in your life. Your depression can either be caused by a rut with a partner, a job loss, a family situation or friends, Once you understand the cause of your problem, it will be easy to minimize the problem and try to make your feelings right.

2.Stay in touch
Though taking the first step can be hard, reach out and start connecting to people. On your own, it will be difficult to beat depression. Take part in social activities such as church services, jams, birthday parties and weddings—these can make a world of difference in your mood. Your loved ones care about you and are ready to help you. Get in touch through phone calls, texting or face- to - face talks.

3.Do what excites you
What excites you? Is it movies, listening to music, playing games, partying or reading? Do it! Push yourself to do them even if you don't feel like doing them. Go ahead; try it now. This will help fill the silence and give you something to think about. It will also improve your attention and memory thus, improving your depression symptoms. You will be surprised at how much better you feel.

4. Curb negative thinking
Challenge those negative thoughts. “Snap off” that negative feeling that your situation is hopeless; it is a symptom of depression, which is unrealistic. Negative thoughts worsen your depression. Notice and stop your negative thoughts. Ask yourself whether your thoughts are helpful or unhelpful; replace your negative thoughts with more positive ones. If you do this every day, accurate and helpful thoughts will soon come naturally to you.

5.Exercise your depression out
I know waking out of bed can be very difficult to let alone walking out! But, exercise is a powerful tool to beat depression. 30 minutes of exercise per day is a good knock out. Exercise releases natural brain chemicals that promote your sense of well-being. It also takes your mind off worries and helps you gain your confidence back.

6.Eat healthy foods
You are what you eat! What you eat has an effect on how you feel and look. Eat at least 3 times a day; don't skip meals. Eat foods rich in omega -3 fatty acids like salmon and herrings and more vitamins. Reduce your sugar intake; avoid caffeine and alcohol— such foods affect your brain and mood.

7.Expose yourself to sunlight
Go outside, expose yourself to the sunlight. You can sit on a bench in the early morning sun. Sunlight boosts your serotonin level and improves your mood.

8. Improve your sleep pattern
Have you realized that sleep and mood go hand in hand? Establish a good sleep habit thus; six(6) to eight(8) hours sleep a day.

9 Reduce your stress level
Identify and reduce activities that stress you out. Make a schedule and try not to do so many works at a time. Don't be too hard on yourself when you are unable to stick to the schedule. Have a break if you can. When you are stressed, your depression worsens. Do not work in your bed or even your bedroom. Doing work in your bed or bedroom can cause you to associate your bed with stress rather than relaxation. Only use your bed for sleep and sexual activity.

10. Seek professional help
Finally, if you try all these self-help steps and still find your depression worsening, seek professional help. Go to a mental health facility or a nearby counseling center to meet a counselor or a psychologist to help you with this.

Whilst recovering from depression isn't quick or easy, you do have more control than you realize — even if your depression is severe and stubbornly persistent. Identifying the source of your stress Staying in touch, doing what excites you, curbing negative thinking, improving your sleep pattern and reducing your stress level will help you deal with depression perfectly. You are greater than this depression. Get up!

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