The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – 5) is the mental health tool used to understand and provide diagnosis. When I work with my patients, I often refer to the DMS 5, to better understand individual’s symptoms and behaviors.
Persons diagnosed or struggling with depression may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Sadness more days than not.
- A depressed mood nearly everyday
- Low interest to engage in previously pleasurable activities
- Irregular changes in weight or dieting. Such as overeating or weight loss.
- Loss of energy
- Feeling worthless and/or hopeless
- Irregular changes in sleep.
Depression, in my opinion, has a core definition that can impact individuals in different ways. For one person, it can be felt in the daily struggle to get out of bed and engage in life activities like work or parenting. For another person, it can be noted in the struggle to sleep.
There are ample ways to manage depression symptoms and unwanted behaviors. The strategies listed below can help reduce the severity of symptoms and/or eliminate certain symptoms from taking place. My recommendation is that you engage in the strategies using the following principles:
- Give it 30 days of practice. Actively engage in using the recommendations for 30 days to identify if there is a positive effect taking place.
- Stack the strategies if needed. If you need to use one to even three different strategies go for it. The goal is to reduce the impact of severity and/or to eliminate the negative/unwanted symptom.
- Remain confident.
The strategies listed below can help reduce the severity of symptoms and/or eliminate certain symptoms from taking place.
Deep breathing. This is not your ordinary breathing that you do daily. Deep breathing, is an actual practice like what is seen done in yoga. For deep breathing, inhale through your nose for a duration of 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds and exhale through your mouth for a duration of 4 seconds. Practice this four times. Work to involve your entire body during the breathing exercise. While inhaling suck your stomach in and pull your chest up. Overall, you should feel a sense of relaxation and distraction after the activity. Do this as you feel the onset of the depressive symptoms taking place.
Positive talk. For positive talk you can, write down ten to twenty statements that make you feel better, happy, confident… Or simply memorize them. Or have a significant other write down what that they admire about you. During a depressive episode. Try your best to focus in on what the words are saying and how you feel after each statement. Do not simply just say the statements and walk away. I encourage you to feel the words just as you feel the depressive symptoms. Do this as you feel the onset of the depressive symptoms taking place.
Support System. Who is your to-go-to support person? Is it your counselor? Is it your best-friend? Identify this person and reach out to him/her. Create an understanding focused on your need to have them available during depressive episodes or periods that you need a helping hand. This person is able to sit down and hear you out. Do this as you feel the onset of the depressive symptoms taking place.
Deep Conversation. Have an in-depth conversation with your significant other or persons who you enjoy being around. Try to push the conversation deep and emotionally driven. Engage in this activity at least once per week. It’ll help create emotional balance.
Muscle relaxation. Pick one muscle group that you want to focus on. Let’s say it’s your right hand. Squeeze your right hand as hard and tight as you can for a duration that last 4 seconds. Release your hand in a smooth slow duration that lasts 8 seconds. You want your hand to be entirely open when you get to the number 8 count. Repeat the sequence four times. Overall, your goal is to feel the contraction as you squeeze and the subtle relaxation as you open your hand. Do this as you feel the onset of the depressive symptoms taking place.
When my wife goes to the gym. Staff welcome her. They say, “Good Morning” or “Have a great workout”. Staff do not tell her that she is “fit” and “that she does not need to continue coming.” Mental health is very much like physical health. In my opinion, we need to actively be mindful of our mind and body.
I hope that the reading will create confidence and allow you to gain control.