Depression can be a daily struggle. It can make even the simplest tasks seem monumental. With depression, it can be difficult to get out of bed, even with all of the opportunities that await us. We may not enjoy things that we normally would, and we may feel as though we have no energy to spend time with those who would otherwise make us smile. Symptoms such as these are why depression is being recognized as the leading cause of disability in the world, according to a new report by the World Health Organization.
This report, which was reviewed in April 2016, reveals that “Depression is a common mental disorder. Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression.” Additionally, they confirm that “depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.”
Depression is Highly Treatable
Thankfully, however, depression is among those diseases that are highly treatable, particularly with therapeutic intervention. One of the most successful treatments for depression is CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy. CBT focuses on grounding the patient in the present moment to decrease rumination and reliving unpleasant thoughts and experiences. It can also help patients change their thoughts and behaviors to improve their overall mood. In many cases, therapy alone can be effective against depression, but for some patients, a combination of therapy and prescription medication is recommended. The most commonly prescribed medications are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.
Medication can be a good way to reduce symptoms of depression but they don’t get to the root of the problem. This is where therapy is particularly beneficial. Therapy can help us understand what we’re feeling and lead us to possible reasons why. Through this, we can learn strategies to help better manage our emotions in a healthy and constructive way, rather than allowing them to consume us. However, there are a few things that we can personally do to help facilitate this process. Although depression can feel as though it has taken control of our lives, there are ways in which we can remind ourselves that we are in control: over our minds, our lives, and ultimately our happiness.
What is Behavioral Activation for Depression?
Known as Behavioral Activation, this treatment method involves focusing on altering certain behaviors to reduce depression. Behavioral Activation is a relatively low-cost and straightforward approach to combatting depression. To practice it, we must find activities in our lives which we enjoy, and which provide a sense of competence and importance. These feeling provide a sense of security, which depression is known for taking away. By using Behavioral Activation, we can identify which activities cause us to feel joy and fulfill us in the ways we need most. Below are a few strategies through which we can make the most of our Behavioral Activation. In this way, we can come closer to overcoming our depression.
3 Things to Try to Brighten Your Mood
1. Plan Activities You Enjoy
Perhaps the most important step to the Behavioral Activation treatment method is to plan activities that are enjoyable and/or significant to us. Depression can make it hard for us to feel motivated to do the things we value, so it’s important that we learn to make time for ourselves so that we can establish a sense of purpose and fulfillment. It’s best to plan activities which produce some sort of reward which we enjoy. For example, planting seeds to grow a garden.
2. Take it Step by Step
When planning these activities it’s important to break them into manageable increments. If we try to take on too much at once we can become easily overwhelmed. For instance, we might decide to clean the house, but thinking of cleaning every room can be daunting. So instead, we may start by organizing some books, or doing the dishes. Starting with activities that are easier or more manageable allows us to enjoy ourselves more, rather than worrying about what we did or didn’t get done.
3. Be Accountable
When planning these activities we must make sure that we set aside an adequate amount of time for them, without cheating ourselves of the opportunity to engage in something we will enjoy. While struggling with depression it may be easy to forget sometimes the enjoyment derived from certain activities, but we can’t let the negative mindset of depression get in the way of our Behavioral Activation. Being accountable doesn’t necessarily mean being monotonous, nor does it mean being overly regimented. It just means that if we promise ourselves to do something we like, or something that is important to us, we hold to that commitment, and make time for us to do so. Basically, we are making a promise to ourselves to do something that will make us feel good. This commitment to our own happiness and well-being is a necessary step in overcoming depression,
In using Behavioral Activation, we are telling ourselves that activities we value are important. As such we are committing ourselves to making time to do things that we enjoy. We are reminding ourselves that we are important, thus our interests, passions, and ambitions are important to. Depression, though it may hinder our motivation, does not take away from our significance.