Depression Anxiety Help
First I encourage you to look online for a Beck Depression Inventory to complete and a Burns Anxiety Inventory. Complete them, score them, then file them away. These will give you your “baseline”, the number representing the amount of depression/anxiety you are starting with.
The most powerful way to escape negative feelings is to dedicate yourself to self-care. You’ll need to develop a routine involving increasing your awareness regarding where you’re at emotionally and then taking action every day to bring you out of depression and prevent a return to depression.
I would encourage you to make a list of things you’re grateful for each day. I’d encourage you to write it down every now and then. In between, you can think about them, say them out loud or meditate on them.
Next, I encourage you to use a journal to track how much you exercise. Walking is sufficient. Research shows that when people experience anxiety or depression, the brain atrophies over time, making it less effective. When you go for a 45-minute walk daily, within 6 weeks you will experience brain growth, perhaps even sooner. If you can get out in nature and hike for 90 minutes, you may experience an immediate brain change. Hiking near moving water may promote an even better mood. If you haven’t been exercising, start small, just down to the end of the block is fine. Add to it every 2–3 days until you can walk for 45 minutes daily.
When you’re ready to add to this, google: UCLA MARC for free guided meditations. If you don’t like these, explore options on youtube. Meditation also helps the brain grow and has a direct impact on your mood. Again, start small if you’ve never done it before. The easiest times to start are before going to sleep or just when you wake up. If your sleep is disrupted, try meditating when you wake up in the middle of the night. Remember that meditating is a practice, not a destination. If you never feel calm, never experience an empty mind, it’s okay. You’re still meditating, still teaching that brain muscle how to relax and focus. It is the practice that matters. Once you start, increase gradually, first in days per week, then in minutes per day. (Or the other way around if you prefer.)
It is also very helpful to resume activities that you used to enjoy and increase your variety. You’ll need to socialize in person with friends. Each person’s needs are different so think about what you’re doing now and increase it until you feel better. Sleep 7–9 hours per night. Sleeping less can worsen your anxiety or depression, while more can also worsen your depression. Eat 3 X per day and eat healthily. Reducing carbs may help some people. Some people find grains (dairy, eggs, gluten, soy, corn, caffeine, sweets, and alcohol/drugs) inflammatory and they may “inflame” your mood or anxiety as well. Caffeine and alcohol/drugs, even marijuana may exacerbate your negative emotions. Granted some strains of marijuana may help if you live in a state where it is legal, but you must be careful about which strains and not to use it daily. Careful to avoid screens the last hour or two before sleep as the blue light interferes with our circadian rhythms.
Then look on my or another website regarding learning to do cognitive restructuring. The basic idea is to find a rational thought to substitute for any irrational thoughts you have. Any thought you have which isn’t a fact from your history and makes you feel bad is likely irrational. These thoughts can be changed to help you feel better. You’ll find complete instructions on learning this skill on my blog. If your thoughts are facts from your history, you’ll need to do grief work to cope with them. All of the other skills will help but changing your thoughts probably won’t help as much. Doing some kind of art, music, dance, or handwork is very therapeutic.
Another very helpful skill is EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). If you’re comfortable with energetic methods, try this one. It can be very effective at neutralizing anxiety and improving mood. It may only work for short periods of time in the beginning, but with regular use, the benefits last longer and longer until your anxiety or depression becomes a rare experience. The details regarding this skill are complicated and can be found on my blog.
After 6-8 weeks of working on these skills, try scoring the depression and anxiety assessments again. See if your score is lower. I expect it will be and hope that will motivate you to keep working on these skills. If you stick with these skills and make them part of your daily self-care for the rest of your life, you may stop experiencing severe depression or anxiety. Good luck!
If you’d like more information about managing difficult emotions, anxiety, depression or Bipolar Disorder, please visit my website at ericalhernandez.com