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How to Control Feelings of Depression

Updated on February 17, 2017
meloncauli profile image

Meloncauli is an ex-nurse and anxiety management therapist. She hopes everyone can take something away from her articles.

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I am no stranger to depression, and in the past I have suffered with varying degrees of it. It is a cunning old fox that can creep up on you without you realizing it and take a hold on you; well, that’s what most people would say! In reality, this often only happens the first time you become depressed, because of course you don’t understand what being depressed can do to you the first time around.

If you have ever been depressed before you know what it feels like, and you will likely recognize the signs that it may be returning. You also probably know why your first depression happened. Was it a reactionary depression? In a lot of cases it will have been, as you reacted negatively to a trauma, an old wound, family problems, the death of a loved one, money worries and so on.

Mild to moderate depression is very common and unless you have a mood disorder such as bipolar with a sudden decline in mood, you will find that depression deepens with time. The time for depression to become severe will vary from person to person, but usually it will take many weeks, sometimes months before a severe stage is reached.

You may simply be prone to get bouts of depression from time to time, almost as if it is part of your personality. People who have led lives that have been fraught with problems can get a domino effect in the cause of their depression.

The Domino Effect of Depression

Past problems can keep coming back to cause depression
Past problems can keep coming back to cause depression | Source

Example: a person may have had a traumatic childhood, been hurt or abused in a bad relationship, suffered chronic health problems, accumulated debt, and not come to terms with the loss of a loved one. Each time a person suffers emotionally after such a string of negative events, if the previous stressors have not been adequately addressed, then a subsequent stressor will be felt tenfold!

This article will look at how we can control a mild to moderate depressive mood; what we can do to identify the first signs of a bout of depression and work on those signs to avoid severe depression.

Depression Can Make You More Tired

Depressed people can sleep a lot more than usual.
Depressed people can sleep a lot more than usual. | Source

Identifying Signs of Depression

For those who have never had depression before, here is a list of common symptoms:

  • Persistently feeling sad and hopeless
  • Irritable and restless; increased anxiety
  • Losing interest in usual activities, hobbies
  • Tired or fatigued; sleep problems
  • Weight loss or gain; eating much more or less than usual
  • Disinterest in sex
  • Vague aches and pains or worsening of a chronic physical health problem
  • Plagued by feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling withdrawn and not wanting to socialize

For those who have had depression before you will be able to identify with some, if not all, of those symptoms and probably be able to add some more!

Negative Emotions

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If you look at the picture above, you will see that there is a vast array of negative feelings or emotions. How many of those emotions can you add to your other symptoms of depression? It is a good idea to make a list of all your negative emotions so that you can be aware of just how negative your thoughts are.

Causes of Depression

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Negative Thinking and Depression

Depression is awash with negative thinking patterns. Most of this negativity will center on how a person perceives not only the cause but themselves. Feelings of guilt, of being victimized, worthless, useless, unloved, hopeless and ashamed, are all common feelings in depression.

You will probably have “mind chatter” or self-talk when you become depressed, and there are certain negative phrases that will crop up often such as:

  • I can’t - as in “I can’t take this”
  • I won’t – as in “I know I won’t be able to look after the children”
  • I am a failure
  • I hate myself
  • Everything bad always happens to me (self pity/victimization)
  • I don’t – as in “I don’t fit in”

Pressure on depressed mums with children
Pressure on depressed mums with children | Source

Reasons for Depression

Some people will not know why they feel depressed whilst others will have an instant identifiable cause. It may be that some old long forgotten stress or trauma has simply been put on hold in the subconscious. It is more usual that the cause will be obvious, sometimes even typical such as bereavement.

It is true that depression may be initiated by memory. That memory may be of a past trauma that you would prefer to forget, but now and again you may be reminded of it. Maybe someone in your life reminds you of that memory, perhaps even a family member. It could be a place or an event that triggers this negative memory and forces you to feel a whole host of emotions. See if you can identify the cause or causes for your depression. Make a list of these also.

Cause/Trigger
Emotions
Negative Sellf Talk
Broken relationships
Unloved, worthless, resentful, scared
I am unlovable, I won't find anyone else, it's all my fault
Death of a loved one
Scared, angry, helpless
I let that person down, I didn't say goodbye, I can't cope without him/her
Debts/money worries
Scared, anxious, guilty
I can't get out of this, I am useless, I deserve this
Weight gain
Useless, self hatred, guilty
I can't stop eating, I hate myself, I am a failure,I am ugly

When you can see exactly what is going on, you can try to control the depressive state.

If we could not think, we would not have these emotions! Our behavior and moods are all directly linked to the way we think, and the way we perceive both ourselves and the world. As we became adults, we have laid down many personal opinions about what is good/bad, and what is acceptable or unacceptable. Our personalities may have an effect on how we manage our lives, so what one person perceives as a failure, another might not. No two people are the same, but negative thinking is a trait that all depressives share.

How to Control Feelings

Given that you can accept how thoughts directly affect your feelings or emotions, it makes sense to change the way you think. This may seem impossible to some, and to those who have become severely depressed, it may well be the case.

Remember two things:

  • You can’t think about two things at the same time – try it and you will see that you will only ever be actually thinking about one thing at any one time
  • It is difficult to hold on to two opposing thoughts at the same time – you will only ever be thinking a positive or a negative thought at one time and will never be able to think positively and negatively at exactly the same time

Now you should look at your negative self talk phrasing. You must change the way you think by using positive self-talk. When depressed you believe the negative self talk, but by replacing negative with positive, eventually you will believe that also. At first it may not seem to be working, but if you stick at it and see the rationality of the change it will work eventually. Thinking positively will reverse a negative mood. You need to make it your second nature to recognize a negative thought as it arises and change it in a positive way. (There are some examples below).

It helps if you keep a little notebook listing negative thoughts and positive alternatives. Read these at your leisure, but scan over some at least once every day until you feel you have become used to knowing “how” to think. You will find that negative thoughts keep creeping back in, and when this happens you need a word to use that brings it to a quick halt. Simply saying “stop” or “negative” may be enough to remind you to change to your positive

Negative thought
Positive Thought
I am ugly
I accept me and love me for who I am
I am useless
I have achieved many good things in life
I can't do this
I can try my best each day
I won't be able to manage the children
I can ask someone for help until I feel a bit better
I don't want to eat
I will try to eat little and often
I can't cope
I can take one day at a time
 
 
Share your feelings with someone you can trust
Share your feelings with someone you can trust | Source

Other Ways of Controlling Depression

Changing the way you think is of paramount importance, but there are others things you can do to compliment the changes.

Sharing Your Feelings

A trouble shared really is a trouble halved! Talk to a partner, trusted friend or family member, even if it feels wrong. Book a counseling session if you want to talk to someone completely impartial. Bottling things up alone is extremely self destructive, and always makes depression a whole lot worse.

Activities

Write down all the things you used to do and would like to do. Be realistic about this and list them in order of achievability. Pick something you KNOW is achievable to begin with and try this activity. Whilst you are focusing on something that is of any interest to you, you are getting out of self talk mode. It might just be doing jigsaw puzzles or completing crosswords; anything really, right up to trying something new that you have always wanted to try.

When a person is depressed it is difficult to plan and everything is focused on “the problem”. Set some goals on paper at least. Again, be realistic and start trying to achieve the goal that is the easiest for you, working your way up to the most difficult.

Laughter

Laughter is a powerful medicine! You don’t feel you have anything to laugh about, but you should make a point of staying away from people who make you feel sad. Make more contact with people who usually make you laugh. If the sadness is “in the house”, try and take a short vacation; a weekend away every so often. It isn’t running away but giving your brain some relief from bad vibes.

Don’t watch worrying or sad things on television, but actively look out for something comical to watch.

Relaxation and Exercise

Anxiety and depression usually go together. Find ways to relax, and this can be anything from watching a few favorite movies to learning meditation or yoga. Try to take a walk everyday for at least thirty minutes. This will help you to sleep and give you a little feel good factor. We all need some sunlight, so avoid staying indoors all day every day.

Responsibility

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling. Ironically, helping others makes us feel good, so that may be worth trying also. For me personally, this in particular did help me a lot.

Worry Time

One can nurture and mollycoddle their depression (often unconsciously), or one can try and look rationally at the bigger picture of their depression and address it head on. If something is a constant worry to you, try the time out method for worrying. Set aside half an hour per day when you will “allow” yourself to worry. Outside of that worrying is banned!

Note: Recognize that there is no point in worrying about something that you can not change.

Diet

Poor appetite or over eating may be one of the symptoms of depression. It is what you eat that is important. Comfort eating usually means unhealthy eating such as sweet stuffs, ready meals or pre-packed food. Try and eat a healthy diet with fresh foods, and limit your intake of sweet starchy foods and processed foods. Don't be tempted to lean on alcohol or illicit drugs.

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    • meloncauli profile image
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      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Thanks so much for your comment Om!

      Yes you are right, and there are the glass half empty type people, who think negatively about so many things.

      Thanks for rating . :)

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 4 years ago

      Excellent hub. I love your advice on how to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. These tips are very helpful to all of us. Negative feelings and thoughts can sneak into anyone's mind at any time; it doesn't only happen to those who suffer from chronic depression. Rated up and awesome!

    • meloncauli profile image
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      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Thanks so much for your comment and vote. I do hope people find it useful. Best wishes to you :)

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 4 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      meloncauli, Wonderful hub about depression and very useful tips on effectively dealing with the negative aspects of feeling blue. Taking such a positive outlook on a difficult disorder will undoubtedly help many people. Great illustrations and wonderful video. Useful, Awesome & Up -K

    • meloncauli profile image
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      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Ha ha ...welcome to my couch catgypsy! I am glad you find my hubs interesting. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. :)

    • meloncauli profile image
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      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Yes, we are so proud icmn91, and we don't think people would understand often. Depression is quite common though, and although some people might not understand how you are feeling, offloading is helpful to the sufferer. Thanks for your comment :)

    • meloncauli profile image
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      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Thanks for dropping by gsidley! Success on completion of the smallest task can give someone the impetus to carry on to do more. Thanks again for your comment.

    • meloncauli profile image
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      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Thanks for your comment my_girl_sara! Yes, for some, God may be extremely comforting in their time of need. Spiritual meaning in the religious sense is important to some people. Thanks for pointing that out. :)

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      meloncauli, a wonderfully written hub...as usual. Since I have an anxiety/panic disorder, I naturally tend to have depression too. I had an "aha moment" when you said you can't think about two things at once. Very good point! You have become my unoffficial shrink...haha...thanks for your great hubs!

    • icmn91 profile image

      icmn91 4 years ago from Australia

      I've had issues with depression lately due to my college experience but am getting myself together. One of my problems I've had is my lack of desire to ask people for help. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    • gsidley profile image

      Dr. Gary L. Sidley 4 years ago from Lancashire, England

      A hub packed with lots of wisdom, as per usual.

      Completing activities is an important one. Often depressed people will say they haven't got the motivation to carry out some task. But motivation is a curious beast; it often only emerges after you've carried out the activity.

    • my_girl_sara profile image

      Cynthia Lyerly 4 years ago from Georgia

      Wow! You sure put a lot of good information into this blog. I am sad you did not mention God. In my life, I have gone through bouts of depression due to life's circumstances. With the encouragement of others, prayer, God's word, and changing my thinking, I have been able to endure those hardships and grew in godly character. The most important thing about depression is not to be alone. It is a dangerous place. Thanks for the hub!

    • meloncauli profile image
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      meloncauli 4 years ago from UK

      Thanks for your comment Ingenira. You are so right! Having supportive people around you is very important because the depressed person can feel a lot of guilt, both during and after the depressive episode. Feeling you won't be understood can make matters worse also.

    • Ingenira profile image

      Ingenira 4 years ago

      Very well written. I have had depression episode only once in my life, and glad that it never came back to haunt me, but I know what it was like. Having a supportive and happy family really helps.