What To Do When You Start to Feel Depressed

I'm feeling myself struggling with depression and anxiety again. Where do I go from here? 

Before I begin this article, I would like to disclose that I am in no way a medical professional and my advice is in no way scientifically or medically proven. This is just what has helped me in times where I felt myself slipping into a depressed/anxious mental space.

To give some background to my own mental health experiences, since elementary and to this day I put an enormous amount of pressure on myself. A lot of times in my mind, being the best I can be is synonymous to being in control of myself and putting 110% into everything I do. This didn't come from my parent’s strict hand or a peer pool of geniuses, I was just born with an undying need to be good. With this need to be good comes the all too familiar sinking feeling of failure at the smallest tasks, like not washing my dishes after using them or getting a C on a test. This, coupled with the fact that I have PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, a disorder that causes extreme bouts of depression and anxiety in the days leading up to your period) is cause for a mental disaster that takes place at least once a month. 

It wasn’t until the past year that my PMDD started to interfere with my daily life. I made the decision to go on birth control, because without it, I would cry for days on end, not be able to sleep, eat, or even go to class. After being on birth control for a few months, I decided to go off of it because I felt sick every day. Since then, I’ve decided to try to manage these unfortunate bouts of depression without birth control. For me, this looks like random, unexplainable anxiety attacks and a complete lack of motivation and interest in my life a few days out of the month before I start my period. This leads me to the REAL purpose of this article: how I manage my mental health when the going gets tough.

  1. 1. Stand Up

    Whenever I’m trying to break myself out of a crying spell or even if I’m just feeling myself slip into a muddy or sad mental state, I stand up. The worst thing for me to do is to let myself sit or lay down and do nothing to try to preoccupy myself. This is not to say that you should never cry or feel sad, but you’ll know when you need to process and feel emotions, and when emotions are a byproduct of your fluctuating mental health. Standing up forces me to move, refocus my train of thought, and puts me on the path of finding something else to focus on.

  2. 2. Drink Water

    Roll your eyes all you want, self care critics, but drinking water helps. Drinking water isn't going to cure your depression, but it’s good for your body. According to HealthLine “Many other studies, ranging from children to the elderly, have shown that mild dehydration can impair mood, memory and brain performance”. Not only is drinking water going to improve your mood and brain performance, the action of retrieving a glass of water is another way to occupy your mind.

  3. 3. Channel Your Energy

    A lot of times, especially in a case like an anxiety attack, you’re expelling this massive amount of nervous, chaotic energy. You may be biting your lip, picking your nail polish off, crying, hyperventilating, or coping in any of the ways you’ve learned throughout your life that helps you feel more comfortable. The next time you experience this, try channeling this energy into something productive. Paint, draw, play an instrument, wash your dishes, vacuum, literally anything that you can physically do to channel your energy into non self-destructive actions.

  4. 4. Change Your Location

    If I spend too much time in my room, too much time at my house, too much time in a town, or too many days in a row doing the same thing, I get absolutely restless. It often leads to a depressive state or a complete meltdown, and sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint in the moment what exactly is causing it. Now I know that when I start to get into this state, it’s best for me to leave. I don’t mean I skip states, I mean I get in my car and drive 5 minutes to Bojangles. Get yourself out of the current environment you’re in. It could be as simple as taking a walk (which leads me to the great benefits of exercise).

  5. 5. Exercise

    While me, my body, and exercise have an interesting and sometimes toxic relationship that we’re still working on, exercise helps a lot of people when they’re feeling low. When you exercise, you release endorphins which tend to make you happier than before you exercised. That’s brain chemicals baby!!!! On top of that, you’ll feel accomplished that you worked out even when you didn't necessarily feel like it.

  6. 6. Cut Your Hair

    I'm not kidding. Sometimes bad feelings call for change, and sometimes that change needs to be drastic. Whether you cut your hair, get a piercing, get a tattoo, or dye your hair, change is GOOD. It gives you a fresh start, which we all every once in a while. It also gives you something new to focus on, your friends will freak out, and you’ll feel like The Resident Cool Girl with your ever changing ~look~.

To reiterate, I am no mental health professional and I am still working out the ways in which I deal with my own mental health. I still struggle at times, but being proactive and having a list of things I know that help me when I’m feeling myself get into a bad head space has made all the difference. 

 

If you are having a mental health crisis or emergency: 

Contact local medical professionals-