In life, we all go through low periods. While for most of us, sadness and stress eventually pass, for some, it’s more severe and prolonged. If the increasing feeling of helplessness and overwhelm has been disrupting your daily life and draining your energy for over two weeks, chances are you’re struggling with a depressive episode. Managing seemingly easy tasks like getting out of bed or cooking a meal may feel impossible. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this challenging time alone. With professional help and support, you can learn practical strategies and techniques for how to get out of a depressive episode. In this article, we discuss what a depressive episode is, its signs and triggers, and share different ways for managing depressive symptoms and finding relief.
Practical Strategies and Techniques for Managing Depressive Symptoms and Finding Relief
In life, we all go through low periods. While for most of us, sadness and distress eventually pass, for some, it’s more severe and prolonged. If the increasing feeling of helplessness and overwhelm has been disrupting your daily life and draining your energy for over two weeks, chances are you’re struggling with a depressive episode. Managing seemingly easy tasks like getting out of bed or cooking a meal may feel impossible. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this challenging time alone. With professional help and support, you can learn practical strategies and techniques for how to get out of a depressive episode. In this article, we discuss what a depressive episode is, its signs and triggers, and share different ways for managing depressive symptoms and finding relief.
What is a Depressive Episode and What Are the Symptoms?
A depressive episode is a period of intensified symptoms of depression lasting at least two weeks. It is also a specific diagnostic category in mental health and will negatively affect the quality of your life, hindering your ability to fulfil manageable daily activities like going to work, socialising, or even taking a shower.
You would know you might be having a depressive episode if you notice the following:
- fatigue and low energy
- lack of motivation and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
- feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness or guilt
- higher irritability and anger
- poor memory and focus
- changes in appetite, sleep pattern and sex drive
Even if expected, it’s very hard to predict when another depressive episode will happen, often taking people by surprise. However, becoming aware of the symptoms when they arise is the first step to figuring out if you may be having one and thus learning how to get out of a depressive episode.
Share this Image On Your Site
How Long Do Depressive Episodes Last and What Can Trigger Them?
If your symptoms last longer than two weeks, it’s classified as a depressive episode. They can vary in duration, in some cases persisting for several weeks or months at a time. While this experience is undoubtedly painful and emotionally tiring, it’s important to remember its temporary nature – eventually, things will improve. To ensure that, you can look out for various triggers of your episodes. Sometimes there’s not one direct cause but rather a mix of different factors, such as:
- a significant life event, i.e., relationship issues or a divorce
- increased stress at work or home
- genetics and family history
- sudden change in your routine
- poor nutrition and sleep issues
- hormonal shifts, i.e. pregnancy, menopause
- facing loneliness or rejection
- medical issues, i.e. stroke or heart attack
- experience of trauma, i.e. car accident
How to Snap Out of a Depressive Episode: Myth vs. Reality
Since depression is so common, there are a lot of misconceptions about
this mental health issue. To break the stigma around it and help you get the help you might need to get out of a depressive episode, let’s address these myths:
- A depressive episode is a serious psychological issue, yet it can still wrongly be labelled as a sign of self-pity, weakness and laziness.
- Many people glorify productivity and mental toughness, which leads them to a false belief that a depressive episode can be “cured” by throwing yourself into work. There’s nothing further from the truth – overworking yourself is a form of avoidance and a common sign of depression, especially among men.
- No matter the age, ethnicity, gender or financial status – anyone can struggle with a depressive episode. It’s not an issue that happens only to the elderly, teens or women. Compared to men, depression in women is twice as common, partly due to hormonal changes and partly because women are more likely to seek support.
- Speaking up about your struggles and getting help won’t make your depressive episode worse – quite the opposite. Talking to a loved one or a therapist about your experience might help you understand your issue better and learn new ways of thinking and behaving.
- Antidepressants are not taken for life. They’re meant to help you function better for a limited time.
Share this Image On Your Site
Depressive Episode Treatment Options: What You Need to Know
If you’re feeling hopeless, remember that you have many treatment options. Depending on the severity and duration of your issue, you can consider different practices:
- self-help resources – start here
- lifestyle changes, i.e. improving sleeping habits or having a workout routine
- therapy – particularly CBT or depression counselling can be incredibly insightful and offer practical action-based support
- medications – antidepressants prescribed by a doctor can help you get out of a depressive episode
Finding and Receiving Professional Help for Depressive Episodes
Let’s talk about getting through a rough patch with depression now.
It’s important to know that professional help can really make a difference. While self-help strategies can be useful, they might not be enough for everyone. That’s when it’s time to get some backup from a mental health professional, like a therapist or a psychiatrist. They can give you that extra support and guidance you need.
Finding the right therapist or psychiatrist might seem a bit scary, especially when you’re going through a difficult time. However, there are loads of resources out there to help you out. Having a chat with your GP and ask for a referral can be a useful first step. You can go online and get in touch with a local mental health services like ours. You could also check out directories like the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP).
When you meet a therapist or psychiatrist for the first time, they’ll likely do an assessment to figure out the best way to help you. This could involve talk therapy, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT), or maybe medication, like antidepressants. Sometimes the best course of action will involve a combination of therapy and medication.
What’s important to know is that they’ll work with you to create a plan that’s tailored to your needs and goals.
Don’t forget that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. It takes courage to admit you need support and to take action to improve your mental health. So remember, with the right help you will be on your way out of a depressive episode.
What to Do When You’re in a Depressive Episode: Coping Strategies and Techniques
Set aside time daily to record your thoughts, feelings and behaviours in a journal. Pay attention to details and rate the intensity of your emotions on a scale from 1-10. This way, you can observe and recognise negative thought patterns and triggers. Also, putting your experience into words can relieve your pain.
When depressed, you lack energy, prefer to isolate and lose interest in doing things you used to enjoy. While it might feel difficult, having plans each day and committing to fulfilling them is essential. Think of tangible, easy activities like calling a friend, cooking a meal or taking a bath. Doing so will boost your self-efficacy and increase your mood step by step.
Behavioural activation is an effective way to manage a depressive episode. It includes doing those things that used to bring you joy. Think of it as self-care. What is it that normally makes you calm or happy? Whether ordering a delicious meal or watching your favourite Netflix series, it can help you feel better long term.
Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude
Evoking a sense of calm and positivity while depressed is an important coping skill. Include mindfulness and meditation in your daily routine. They’re great tools for focusing on the present moment instead of dwelling on the past or fixating on the future. Notice your breath, your thoughts and bodily sensations. Additionally, try listing three things you’re for daily: an aromatic cup of coffee in the morning, sunshine on your face or having a roof over your head.
Practising self-compassion is an excellent antidote to depression, particularly when your head is full of criticism towards yourself. While it’s too easy to be your own worst critic, imagine treating yourself like a good friend instead. Here are a few tips to help you be kinder to yourself:
When you’re practicing mindfulness and those negative thoughts pop up, try to just notice them without judging. Remind yourself they’re normal, but they don’t define you.
Next, have a chat with yourself like you would with a friend. Offer some kind words and encouragement, like “I’m doing my best” or “I deserve kindness.”
And when you’re feeling low, remind yourself of your strengths and achievements. Jot them down and have a look when you need a pick-me-up.
Remember, it takes time and patience to master self-compassion. Be gentle and celebrate every bit of progress you make.
Learning how to get out of a depressive episode means opening up to others and asking for help. Isolation will only be detrimental to your health. If meeting with your friend seems overwhelming, call them or send a message. That’s a great start.
In addition to the strategies mentioned above, there are many other techniques you can use to manage depressive symptoms.
- Exercise, which has been shown to be effective in improving mood (even a short walk or light stretching can make a difference)
- Expressing your Creativity, which includes things like journaling, sketching, painting, playing an instrument, singing, etc. Doing this for a little time every day can help boost your mood and increase your self-efficacy (i.e., believe more in yourself)
- Social support, which includes speaking about how you feel with a trusted friend or family member, but also joining a support group (including online). These types of groups can offer you a safe a supportive environment where you can share your experience and connect with people who will understand what you’re facing.
Share this Image On Your Site
Get Professional Help with Therapy Central
Facing a depressive episode is a challenging experience, especially alone. Reaching out to an experienced therapist is an excellent opportunity to discuss your struggle, identify unhelpful thoughts, gain a different perspective and learn various coping skills.
Manage depressive symptoms and take charge of your life by contacting us here for a free 15-min consultation today.