Depression can be one of the hardest things we have to live with when it comes to addiction and mental health issues. Our depression and addictions can be linked and can feed off of each other, compounding and exacerbating each other. Are there ways to recognize when a depression is coming, and are there ways to offset it?
When a depression is about to hit, we often will feel heightened levels of anxiety. We might wake up with feelings of panic, and we might have a hard time calming ourselves down or even getting out of bed. We might struggle to fall asleep because our minds are racing. We might lose our appetite and have trouble eating, or conversely, we might start overeating as a stress response. We may find ourselves responding to things with more reactivity. We might feel more overwhelmed and stressed out. We might suddenly feel like we’re drowning in confusion and despair. We might feel like our minds aren’t working normally, and even simple things might be confusing and overwhelming for us. We may feel exhausted and drained. We might struggle to get through the day. We might dread having to get up tomorrow to do the whole thing all over again. We might cry more often, sometimes without knowing why. We might retreat from other people, isolate ourselves, and have a hard time talking to people. We might have increased social anxiety and avoid being around other people as much as possible. We might lose interest in the things we used to love. We might feel apathetic about life. We might start to feel like there’s no point to living and want to give up. We might feel so much internal pain that living feels impossible.
One of the best things we can do to offset depression is to remember that the depressing thoughts we’re having are just thoughts. We can choose not to believe them. We can decide not to go down the path they want us to go down. We can decide we want to think different thoughts and actively work to choose thoughts that make us feel better. When feelings of depression hit, rather than panicking, we can tell ourselves, “I will get through this. This is temporary. I won’t always feel this way. These are just thoughts. I can choose different thoughts that feel better. I can choose hope.”
Practice finding the good in every situation. No matter how bleak our circumstance, there is usually a positive way to look at it. There is usually something good we can take from it. We can choose to focus our energy on gratitude and find something to be grateful for in everything around us. This immediately turns our attention away from the negative and helps us to build habits of positive, optimistic thinking.
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