Feeling Depressed and Low
Feeling Depressed and Low
Dear Tacit,

I struggle with bouts of depression, and I can get pretty low at times (low energy, low mood, low outlook).  What are some ways I can fight back when this happens?

Signed: Feeling Depressed and Low

Dear Feeling Depressed and Low,

You are not alone in your struggles with depression.  According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 22% of Canadians who have participated in their most recent survey (their ninth, in January 2022) report feeling depressed and low, which is an all-time high for our country.  Women seem to be showing the biggest jumps in these numbers – and the number of people who report that they are feeling isolated and lonely have also increased (now sitting at 24%).

Depression can be a challenging issue to address.  All of us will experience periods of depression, at multiple points in our lives.  When bad times happen, we can expect to lose our energy, have more negatively biased thought patterns develop, and end up feeling more sadness, dread, hopelessness and despair.  It’s our brain’s way of helping us process and release what we are experiencing.  But for many Canadians, the feelings of depression don’t come and go, based on circumstances.  They stay with a person constantly, or fluctuate on and off, without any obvious triggers.  Our body chemistry can become altered and keep us stuck in these feelings of depression.  And our brain patterns can become habitualized into these negative patterns, even when life is going well.

There are a few things that can help.

Choose the people you spend time with carefully.  And don’t allow yourself to isolate.  Research shows that we actually live longer when we spend time around positive people who lift us up, directly or indirectly.  The more upbeat and motivated our immediate circle is, the more we can be coated in these influences.  And the more the behaviours and thoughts of the people around us can impact our own.  Remember that positive people are NOT always happy.  But how they cope with the curve balls that life throws their way will help you see whether they have a more optimistic or pessimistic nature.  Choose wisely. Positivity is contagious.  And we become what we surround ourselves with.

Focus on your physical health and stay in balance, ON A DAILY BASIS.  This means you need to get enough good quality sleep.  You need to eat enough food to keep gas in your gas tank consistently throughout the day (the healthier the foods, the easier this is to do).  You need to drink enough water (urinate 8-10 times during your waking hours, at least) and stay hydrated (don’t wait till you are thirsty).  And you want to stay active/move around, for at least 10 min every hour (try to make some of this time an outdoor option). These 4 daily foundations are the building blocks upon which depression can either take hold (when you are out of balance) or can be successfully managed.

Surround yourself with some form of inspiration.  Read or watch documentaries about or get creative in ways that emulate the people you admire the most.  This, in turn, activates your own inner sense of motivation.  Do something (once a day) that allows you to connect to your passions.  This might require you to try a few new things, if you have lost touch with what you enjoy doing the most.

Actively live your life being true to who you really are.  Reflect on your values, and find ways to incorporate the beliefs you hold dearest in the acts that make up your everyday life.  When we live in harmony/congruency with who we really are, the “flow” is smooth.  But when we fight our true nature, and cannot be genuine, we fuel the unhappiness and isolation we feel within.

Practice daily gratitude.  This doesn’t mean just trying to identify things that are “good” in life.  Notice the role you played in bringing that pleasant moment into your world.  Find the connection that YOU create to the positives that exist around you, and own that (give yourself credit – be proud of your accomplishments).  And then, walk-your-walk.  Express the gratitude and happiness you are experiencing.  Don’t just notice it and forget.  Share these moments with others (it extends the depth of positivity you will feel).  Appreciate how others lessen the negativity you are feeling with their presence and acknowledge those people through a smile, a nod of the head, a kind word, a compliment, etc.

Most importantly, know that you are not alone, and help is available.  If you feel your levels of depression are wearing you down or exhausting you to the point that your quality of life Is being impacted or you cannot function, seek help.  Talk to a counsellor or to your family doctor, and find the support that can make things better.  There is help available.  Strategies that are unique to a person’s own personality can be found in many different therapeutic modalities – including traditional talk therapy, neurofeedback therapy, EMDR, somatic therapy, nature-assisted therapy, etc.  Don’t just try one option – if it isn’t working, consider a different approach. Because you are worth it!

Take care!

Have a question? Please feel free to reach out to us at counsellors@tacitknows.com. Your answer will be provided confidentially. 

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