Reach out to others
A hallmark of depression is isolation. It can happen easily if you’re not working, or you’re avoiding people because you’re depressed. But reinvigorating or expanding a social network provides an opportunity to get support, perhaps even from people in the same or a similar situation, says Rego.
“Once you start reconnecting with people, you get a sense they understand,” he says. “You get positive advice and encouragement and it’s often done in activities that end up being fun.”
Staying home alone will perpetuate the depression. Getting out with other people—even a little bit—will lift your spirits.
Avoid black and white thinking
Black and white is great for zebras, but not thoughts. Depressed people tend to think in extremes: I’m a loser. No one loves me. I’ll never get a job.
But your thought patterns could put you in a rut or keep you there. “Being depressed or sad is going to color the way you think about yourself in a negative direction,” says Rego.
These thoughts can paralyze you and stop you from doing the very things that will get you out of a lousy situation. Try to think in shades of gray, says David R. Blackburn, PhD,a psychologist with Scott & White Hospital in Temple, Texas. Instead of “no one loves me,” try “lots of people (if not everybody) love me.”
Reality check your thoughts
If you’re depressed, negative thoughts go with the territory. However, they are rarely grounded in reality.
Once you’ve identified a negative thought, ask yourself, “Where is the evidence that I’m the most despicable human being on the entire earth?” There probably isn’t any.
“You can’t just be rattling these thoughts back and forth and saying they’re true,” says Blackburn. “You have to come up with some solid evidence.”
And if you’re worried about what people are thinking about you, go ahead and ask them.
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