Whether you have been given a diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or some other serious-sounding disorder, or you just have the "blues," or "jitters," there are some essential ways you can take matters into your own hands.
Talk with a Professional
A Licensed Professional Therapist with a graduate degree in Psychology has been trained to listen to your problems in an non-judgmental way and help you plan a way to cope with, or eradicate them. Talking with friends and family about the same problems over and over will get you exactly what you pay for, and may eventually alienate some of them because they don't know how to help, much as they, and you, wish they could.
The best way to find a psychotherapist is to ask for a recommendation. Someone you know has seen a professional who helped. Your primary care physician can recommend a psychotherapist with whom her patients have been pleased. Our ethical guidelines prohibit us from posting patients' reviews in order to protect their anonymity and their therapy. Most of my own patients come to me because of a referral from someone they trust.
Together we identify problems, goals, and establish markers that tell us how we are progressing. And, yes, this is a "we" journey. Your psychotherapist can not wave a magic wand (though I do have one in my office) and make your problems disappear. Neither would I expect you to do more of the same you've already been trying unsuccessfully. Both of us work together as a team.
Feed Your Brain
Nutrition is an important player in how your brain function. What you feed your body has a significant impact on your energy, cognition and emotions. Skipping meals, eating too much or too little, eating foods that do not nourish, all cause problems. Alcohol, drugs (even over-the-counter), and nicotine all have negative impacts on your mood, energy, and thinking.
Nutrition alone will NOT solve your problems. There are just too many other factors involved (brain chemistry, environment, ineffective communication skills, etc.), but you can begin with the basics and eliminate physical health as a cause.
Sleep is another essential for feeding your brain. During sleep, your body and brain heal, deal with problems on a subconscious level, restores both mind and body. Sleep difficulties can be addressed in therapy to help you toward a healthy routine.
Move Your Body
A great deal of research has gone into the study of the effect of physical exercise on mental states and to no one's surprise has shown positive results. There are several reasons for these positive effects on mood. First, exercise releases endorphins that make us feel good naturally. Second, the pumping of oxygen to all internal organs improves their function at the same time it supplies the brain with the necessary cleansing. Your choice of exercise should be something that you enjoy, from running to biking or walking or yoga or swimming, or dancing. It just needs to be a part of your daily life. Third, the simple act getting up and moving shows that you are in charge and taking positive action toward feeling better.
We are not just corporeal beings that need food, sleep, and exercise. Science has proven what others have known for millenia, that meditation in whatever form you choose has the ability to reduce stress, focus thoughts, and generally increase an overall sense of well-being. Again, your choice of meditative practice is one that you should be comfortable with, whether prayer practiced from the view of ancient religions or meditation from your intellectual pursuit of the subject. It needs, again, to be part of your daily life.
These are a few steps you can take toward reducing the symptoms of depression, anxiety, relationship difficulties, and much more. Putting each of these into your bag of "curatives," will start you on your way to mental health.
Enjoy the journey.
Marilyn Miller, MS, LPC ~ Psychotherapist
...Delighting every day in helping people find peace in their lives, relieving anxiety, depression, and promoting self-care.