It’s easy to recognize classic depression symptoms, but no two people are the same, and no two depressions are the same either.
The causes of depression are complex. It is often a unique combination of your unmet needs, your relationships, your traumas, your sensitivity, your sense of self-worth, and what you believe about the world around you.
Once you can identify the sources of your depression, you can begin to work on them. No one method for breaking free works all the time, but all of the following methods work some of the time.
How to Get Out of Depression Strategy #1: Ignore the Tyrant In Your Head
Experiencing a cruel inner voice is a common feature of depression. You might feel ashamed or guilty out of nowhere, or you might find that your inner voice is no longer supportive or guiding you in the right direction.
This inner voice could have many sources. It could be the voice of a family member or relative that you’ve adopted, or it could be (counterintuitively) trying to help you by demanding perfection.**
**As in, you may have been falsely led to believe that perfection is a requirement for you to be loved.
Most likely, the harshness of your inner voice is causing you to feel apathetic. It’s inspiring you to inaction, not action. You feel like you have no reason to get up anymore, so as soon as you move, the voice tells you to just lie back down.
The truth is that you don’t have to listen to this voice. Instead, you can acknowledge it, and assert what you’re going to do anyway.
Even if you can only manage to eat one meal, brush your teeth, or just sit up in bed, once you ignore the inner voice, you can do it again. And you can keep doing it until you start to gain a momentum that will get you back into a better headspace.
You can use this momentum to keep doing healthier things, or better yet, make it to therapy.
How to Get Out of Depression Strategy #2: Don’t Forget Who You Are (Self-Gratitude)
Being in depression can make it difficult to appreciate what’s around you. It’s hard to have gratitude for anything if you don’t feel like you deserve anything.
So then, the objective here is to find gratitude for yourself first. You need to take stock of who you are, what you do, and what you’ve been through before.
Have you made it through other depressions? Have you proven you’re capable of handling difficult emotions? Are you good to the people around you? Do you do the best you can despite the struggles you face?
Because if you do, then that’s a feat, even if other people can’t see it; even if no one else knows what you’ve been through but you.
Remembering what you’re capable of and what you’ve endured before will help carry you through what you’re going through now.
An understated key to fighting depression is plain old endurance. Even if you’ve never felt this way before, now is your chance to prove to yourself that you can get through it, no matter what.
How to Get Out of Depression Strategy #3: Find an Outlet for All the Things You’re Trying to Say
Depression can make it difficult to express yourself. You might be bottling anger toward something or someone, and you have no outlet to express it. When pain has no outlet, it eats you up from within. It simply has nowhere else to go.
This is meeting depression with creativity instead of apathy. This is alchemizing your pain into something productive. Some of the greatest works of art in history came out of sorrowful periods in people’s lives.
Find a method for self-expression. Draw your pain. Journal your pain. Write bad poetry. Smash piano keys. Write a letter to someone that you might never send and say everything that’s in your heart.
Sometimes, depression is a result of what we don’t say. It might just be pent-up energy that needs an outlet.
How to Get Out of Depression Strategy #4: Realize That Your Roadmap for Happiness Isn’t Yours
We all get caught up in what other people want. We can mold our entire personalities around other people’s wants, just to be accepted.
The obvious advice would be to become an authentic person and decide what you truly want out of life. But the issue is that it’s hard for some of us to know what that is.
Maybe you’ve never really thought about what would make you happy. Maybe the culture you’re in has a different definition of happiness than you do, and without realizing it, you’ve been following someone else’s script.
This is why people suffering from depression often say, “My life is fine. Why am I so depressed?” Is it fine? By whose definition is it fine? Your family’s? Your culture? Do you really have everything you need?
Are you ignoring what would fulfill you in favor of appearing “correct” in other people’s eyes?
This could be the moment you start considering yourself for the first time. This could be the first time you assert your true opinions and stop being so nice. That could be your first step to freedom.
How to Get Out of Depression Strategy #5: Life Seasons and Trusting the Process
If you can’t shake the difficult feelings you’re experiencing, and if you’ve already tried other strategies, then it could be that you’re just in a rough season of life, and things will get better on their own.
People don’t like to hear this. They’ll say, “But how can anything change if I don’t do anything about it?”
Maybe you already have. Maybe you’ve decided to take therapy for your pain, and you’re showing up to your weekly sessions. Maybe you’re adopting a healthier lifestyle. Maybe you’re managing and examining your feelings for the first time.
Now, it may just come down to time. Trust that things can and will get better with daily effort.
Knowing yourself, and understanding your triggers, your traumas, and your pain points, is not an overnight process. But it is one of the most worthwhile things you can do.
You need to see this depression as only one season of your life. It will pass like a thunderstorm, and there will be new seasons that you can grow and flourish in.
Getting Out of a Depression is Not Simple, But it is Always Possible
Here are some other strategies for getting out of depression:
Intense exercise is something like a painkiller for depression. It might not get to the heart of the matter, but it will almost guarantee that you will feel better than when you started.
Human connection is an antidepressant. One of the most powerful strategies for healing depression is being vulnerable about your pain with others. As difficult as it is, revealing your soul alleviates your pain. You just need to be brave enough to do it.
Healthy self-compassion does not look like overindulging in vices. It looks like drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep, scheduling time to do things you enjoy, and listening to beautiful music. The little things can make a big difference.
When you’re going through a rough depression, watch something funny. Lose yourself in some silly humor and remind yourself that not everything is serious.
Behind the pain you might be feeling right now, there is a voice that knows better. There’s a part of you that knows you can get through it. Listen to that part. And ask others for help if you need it. Your loved ones don’t want you to be suffering in silence.
Trust yourself. You’re strong enough to make it through.