Medications, counseling, and hospital stays can add to your financial worries if you’re prone to depression. You may become even more depressed once you see how much of your hard-earned cash goes to your illness.
There’s a common misconception when it comes to managing your depression. Many believe doing so has to cost you a lot of money. That’s not necessarily true. Some of the best solutions available are right in front of you and won’t leave you with extra financial worries.
Australian author, Graeme Cowan, knows depression well. After severe depression that resulted in hospitalization and five years of rebuilding his life, he wrote a book about it. He shared about his personal experience of overcoming depression and interviewed over 4,000 sufferers to see what worked for them to beat their depression. Here are his thoughts on treatment for depression taken from his book, “Back from the Brink:”
“I believe that depression recovery research is too narrowly focused. The allocation of research funds is heavily biased toward areas where more money can be made, such as pharmaceuticals and counseling, with minimal attention to lifestyle and alternative approaches.”
What Cowan found was surprising to himself and nearly everyone else. The top things that helped people break through depression weren’t counseling and medication though these certainly have their place in mental health treatment. Instead, they were more affordable options that were accessible to anyone regardless of their economic means such as physical exercise.
It’s important to remember that depression often is not cured. Instead, it’s managed. Fail to manage your depression, and it will let you know in a hurry. If you ignore your symptoms for long, they’ll become like a snowball rolling down a mountainside, getting bigger and bigger. What started out small will soon be the size of an elephant.
You don’t want to go there. Here are 5 ways to fight your depression with little or no cost to yourself.
Get More Sleep
Even individuals who have no history of depression quickly flag in their emotions without proper sleep. Recent studies show that a person with no clinical mental illness history will exhibit psychotic symptoms if they become too sleep deprived. Hopefully, that’s enough to convince you not to sweep this one under the rug.
A mentally and physically healthy person will not continue to be so for long if they come up short on their shut-eye. Erratic schedules, young children, and anxiety about life circumstances can take their toll. Depression, alone, makes getting quality sleep a challenge.
The first thing to do is to allow yourself more time to sleep. It seems simple, but many people, depressed or not, stay up too late and are too busy. As a result, they operate with an ongoing sleep deficit. Cut out things that cut into your sleep. Make this non-negotiable. Allow yourself a minimum of eight hours a night. If you can make time for more than that, do it.
Try deep breathing, reading a good book, or taking a warm shower before bed. Also, stay away from the TV and computer screen for a good hour before you hit the hay. If these aren’t enough to help you relax, check with your doctor about the possibility of a sleep aid.
Talk to a Friend
Although there is real value in counseling sessions when depressed, you may be able to get some of the same benefits at no cost.
Call up or visit someone who you know believes in you. This could be a co-worker, former teacher, grandparent, or neighbor. There are enough nay-sayers in the world to go around. Find someone who’s in your corner.
If you’re feeling especially bad, this may be the last thing you desire to do. Depression is an isolating disease as demonstrated by sufferers shutting their blinds and avoiding social gatherings. You probably feel like isolating. Resist the urge. The thing you feel like doing least may be what you need the most.
In the process, you’ll be an encouragement to someone else. Mutual encouragement is something everyone needs a lot of to be healthy. This is all the more true for depressed individuals. You’ll likely be surprised by how this elevates your mood.
A common complaint is that eating healthy costs too much. Although, in some cases, that may be true, it’s usually an excuse more than anything. Physical well-being is closely linked with mental wellness. Just like sleep deprivation makes it difficult for your mental faculties to operate optimally, so does a poor diet.
Confusion abounds regarding what a healthy diet looks like. A healthy diet is more than simply eating the right food. It also means eating the right amount of food. Depression typically causes two different reactions in people regarding diet. They either eat too much or too little food due to increased stress. Figure out which one of these you tend toward and make adjustments to balance things out.
Do your best to eat foods that are natural instead of ones that have fifty ingredients and a shelf life of three years. Those kinds of foods aren’t made in your grandma’s kitchen. They’re made in labs by scientists.
Other things to avoid in excess include caffeine, sugar, and foods that are deep-fried. Give yourself a healthy dose of fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Your body and mind will thank you.
Adequate amounts of Vitamin B12 and D are crucial to your well-being, also. This is most true during winter or other times that you don’t get enough sunlight. These vitamins are gaining more and more attention from prescribing psychiatrists in treating depression and are generally affordable to buy.
Some studies show that regular physical exercise is equal to taking an antidepressant. A pair of shoes for walking or running is usually cheaper than the cost of antidepressants over time and much healthier.
Focus on daily consistency in your workouts more than one or two days a week of going above and beyond. This will help you to feel more even-keeled each day.
The two major types of exercise are aerobic and strength training. Aerobic workouts such as playing basketball, walking or running strengthen your heart. Strength training involves things like push-ups and crunches and results in a stronger body. There’s much you can do in both of these categories without a gym membership. Implementing both cardio and strength training workouts into your lifestyle will be a one-two punch against your depression.
Although aerobic exercise has been the most frequently studied and verified form of exercise for battling depression, you certainly will reap benefits, both physical and mental, from strength training, too. Starting out, it may be hard to get motivated. Make sure that your exercise goals are realistic given the extra fatigue that accompanies depression.
Do Something You Love
You’re likely feeling bogged down with the things you have to do if you’re depressed. As a result, it’s easy to forget about the things in life that you used to enjoy doing. Those items gradually drop out of your life until, one day, you wake up and they are all gone. Your life becomes a long list of “must-dos.”
Take a step back and remember something you did before you were depressed that you enjoyed. Again, you may not feel like doing the thing you think of, but make yourself anyway. Often, the positive feeling comes after you’ve made the choice to just do it.
It may involve any number of activities such as watching a favorite movie, going fishing, or creating a piece of art. This is also the perfect time to give something a try that you haven’t done before.
If your depression is bad enough, you still may need an antidepressant or time with a counselor. Or you may be able to manage your symptoms on your own without needing to seek further help. Either way, making these tips a part of your life will result in improved mental wellness. You’ll feel good about doing all you can to take care of yourself.