Battling A Panic Monster

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Today I would like to discuss a monster with you who is known for working together with Monsters like PTSD and Depression.

This monster is called ‘Panic Attack’ and is a nasty one to deal with.

First, let’s see what the specialists can tell us about it:

Panic attacks are periods of intense fear or apprehension that are of sudden onset and of variable duration from minutes to hours. Panic attacks usually begin abruptly, may reach a peak within 10 to 20 minutes, but may continue for hours in some cases. The effects of a panic attack vary. Some, notably first-time sufferers, may call for emergency services. Many who experience a panic attack, mostly for the first time, fear they are having a heart attack or a nervous breakdown. Common psychological themes associated with panic attacks include the fears of impending death or loss of sanity.

Like I said: Nasty!

This Monster is often triggered by something. This could be a activity, sounds, surroundings or even a smell.

 

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Signs and symptoms

The DSM-IV describes a panic attack as the experience of intense fear or discomfort where four or more of the following things are felt:

  • pounding heart or increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • trembling or shaking
  • feeling as though you are being smothered or having difficulties breathing
  • choking
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • nausea or abdominal pains and/or discomfort
  • feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint
  • feeling as though things around you are unreal or feeling detached from yourself
  • feeling as though you are going to lose control or go crazy
  • fear of dying
  • numbness or tingling feelings

There has never been a recorded instance of a person dying of a panic attack. They can only be fatal if accompanied by pre-existing medical conditions, such as asthma, or if extreme behaviors subsequently result (like jumping out of a window).

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Causes

PTSD and panic disorder commonly co-occur. This may not be surprising given that people who have experienced a traumatic event or have PTSD are at a heightened risk to develop a number of other psychiatic disorders, such as depression, substance use disorders, or other anxiety disorders.

Significant personal loss, including an emotional attachment to a romantic partner, life transitions, significant life change.

Avoidance of panic-provoking situations or environments, anxious/negative self-talk (“what-if” thinking), mistaken beliefs (“these symptoms are harmful and/or dangerous”), withheld feelings.

Chronic and/or serious illness

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What to do if you are being attacked by this monster:

Panic disorder can be effectively treated with a variety of interventions including psychological therapies and medication with the evidence that cognitive behavioral therapy has the longest duration of effect.

So get yourself some help, there is no need to battle this monster all by yourself!

Tell people in your immediate surroundings that you suffer from panic attacks. Tell them what they can do to help you if you ever get attacked by this monster.

Having panic attacks is NOT something to be ashamed off and it may be easier to deal with or to keep under control when you know that you are not alone in this.

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When being attacked by this monster because of a trigger from your PTSD:

◾Try to calm yourself down by walking away from the trigger

◾Use breathing exercises

◾Repeat to yourself that this isn’t now, it’s in the past. You are safe now. Get back to the present.

◾Reach out for support.

Breathing exercises

In the great majority of cases hyperventilation is involved, exacerbating the effects of the panic attack. Deliberate deep breathing exercises help to rebalance the oxygen and CO2 levels in the blood.

One such breathing exercise is a 5-2-5 count. Using the stomach and not the chest. You inhale (feel your stomach come out, as opposed to your chest expanding) for 5 seconds. As you reach the maximal point at inhalation, hold your breath for 2 seconds. Then slowly exhale, over 5 seconds. Repeat this cycle twice, and then breathe ‘normally’ for 5 cycles (1 cycle = 1 inhale + 1 exhale). The point is to focus on the breathing, and relax the heart rate.

Meditation may also be helpful in the treatment of panic disorders, or using a mantra you teach yourself.

 

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What to do if someone you know is being attacked by this monster:

1. Understand what they’re going through. People with panic disorder have sudden and repeated attacks of fear that last for several minutes. A panic attack can occur without warning and for no obvious reason. The mind is preparing for a false fight or flight mode, forcing the body to take over to help the victim face or run from the perceived danger, real or not.

2. Watch for the symptoms. If you can pinpoint that they’re going through a panic attack, this alleviates half the problem.

3. If this is the first time the individual has experienced this, seek emergency medical attention. This is mostly important if the individual has diabetes, asthma or other medical problems. The signs and symptoms of a panic attack can be similar to those of a heart attack. Do keep this in mind when assessing the situation.

4. Find out the cause of the attack. Talk to the individual and determine if he or she is having a panic attack and not another kind of medical emergency (such as a heart or asthma attack) which would require immediate medical attention.

5. If there is a trigger that causes the panic attack, remove the cause or take the individual to a quiet area. The person will probably have an overwhelming desire to leave where they are. Sometimes a person with panic disorder will already have techniques or medication which they know will help them get through the attack, so ask them if there is anything you can do.

6. Speak to them in a reassuring but firm manner. Be prepared for the possibility of the individual trying to escape. Remain calm yourself.  Ask the individual to remain still, but never grab, hold, or even gently restrain them. Suggest an activity that can help them focus. This can be something as simple as lifting their arms up and down.

7. Do not dismiss or write off their fears. Saying things like “there’s nothing to worry about,” or “it’s all in your mind,” will exacerbate the problem. The fear is very real to them at that moment, and the best you can do is help them cope. Just say “it’s OK” and move onto breathing. Emotional threats are real as life and death threats to the body. Just listen and let them talk.

8. Encourage them to try to control breathing. Try counting breaths. One way of helping them to do this is to ask the individual to breathe in and out on your count. Begin by counting aloud, encouraging the individual to breath in for 2 and then out for 2, gradually increase the count to 4 and then 6 if possible until their breathing has slowed down and is regulated. Get them to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, making the exhale in a blowing fashion like blowing up a balloon. Do this with them.

9. Keep them cool. Many panic attacks can be accompanied by sensations of warmth, especially around the neck and face. A cold object, ideally a wet washcloth, can often help minimize this symptom and aide in reducing the severity of the attack.

10. Don’t leave them alone. Stay with them until they have recovered from the attack. Never leave someone who is struggling to breathe. A person with a panic attack may seem like they’re being unfriendly or rude, but understand what they are going through and wait until they’re back to normal.

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Even if you don’t feel all that helpful, know that you’re a sense of distraction for them. If they were left alone, all they would have is themselves and their thoughts. You just being there is helpful to keep them grounded in the real world.

Wait it out. Though it may seem like forever (even to you — especially to them), the episode will pass.

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Tackling Severe Panic Attacks

Seek medical help. If the symptoms do not subside within a few hours, consider seeking urgent medical advice. Though it’s not a life or death situation, make the call, even if only for advice. The ER doctor most likely will give the patient Valium or Xanax and possibly a Beta-Blocker like Atenolol to calm the heart and the adrenaline in the body.

If this is the first time he or she has had a panic attack, they may want to seek medical attention because they are frightened of what is happening to them. If they’ve had panic attacks in the past, however, they may know that getting emergency care will worsen their state.

Ask them. This decision will ultimately depend on the individual’s experience and your interactions with him or her.

And the most important thing of all: Don’t Judge, Just Care!

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A letter to those who don’t believe PTSD is real…

June is PTSD Awareness Month.

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Break the stigma.

Dear people who don’t believe PTSD is real,

I wish you were right. Because then we wouldn’t have to live and fight like this. If PTSD didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have to battle our own minds and thoughts every day. I could say: ‘Try to live a day inside my head’, but I know you would not be able to handle that. Some of us don’t even make it. PTSD kills.

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Besides, what we are going through, we don’t wish for anyone. Except maybe the people who did this to us. It would be a fitting punishment, one that lasts a lifetime. Some of you say things like: ‘Just get over it, I have been through things as well.’ Or: ‘You just have to stop thinking about the past and move on.’

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Great advise, thank you very much. But don’t you think that if that was a possibility, we would gladly do it right away? Do you really believe we like feeling like this?

You probably mean well, at least I choose to believe that. But if you say things like that, you are not helping us. It makes us feel worse. It makes us want to say sorry for having PTSD. It makes us want to stop sharing anything with you.

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And never ever say that PTSD only happens when you are weak. We are warriors, we fight a war every freaking day. You can’t even begin to imagine what we are up against. You don’t have a clue what we went through.

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PTSD is not a choice, we didn’t wake up one day and decided: ‘Hey! Let’s have nightmares and flashbacks for the rest of our lives! Let’s panic because of triggers or become numb because we can’t handle the pain anymore.’

PTSD is something that happened to us. And you know what? It can happen to you too. Just as easy. All it takes is a horrific, life changing trauma that haunts you every day.

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We don’t ask you to understand us, because we know that is impossible. You can’t understand something like PTSD if you don’t have it. All we ask for is a little respect, some compassion and a dash of kindness.

That’s not too much, is it? And it won’t even cost you a damn thing!

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So, dear people who don’t think that PTSD is real, please educate yourself before throwing your opinion in our face. Living with it is hard enough without having to fight stigma as well, trust me.

Read about it, ask about it and stop judging what you don’t understand.

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Thank you.

Sincerely,

A PTSD’er.

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10 things you should know about loving someone with PTSD

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1 Trust issues

People with PTSD have learned to distrust others caused by experience. It will take them a long time to put their trust in you. And when they do, make sure that you will be worthy of their trust. You won’t get a second chance.

2 Abandonment issues

Some PTSD’ers are used to losing people. They will expect to lose you too. To avoid the pain, they might even try to push you away. Just stay and don’t give up easy.

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3 Love

The ones who have known deep hurt are capable of loving very deeply. If they say that they love you, it’s because they really do and you are very special to them. They won’t show it soon though, of fear that their love won’t be returned.

4 Strength

People with PTSD are survivors and warriors. They fight their own mind and memories every day. But they do feel very weak sometimes, even if they don’t show it. They are masters in hiding their pain and true feelings. Be there for them.

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5 Baggage

PTSD’ers Come with baggage. A lot of baggage. They have been through some horrible things and can react differently than you expect. Nightmares,  triggers, anxiety and flashbacks can influence the way they behave. It’s not aimed at you, so stay calm and give them time to calm down too. Remove triggers if you can and stay with them if they have a panic attack. Be supportive.

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6 Disbelieve

People with PTSD might have difficulties believing that you care for them or love them. Their past has taught them otherwise. Be patient and show and tell them that you love them often. Eventually they will start to believe again.

7 Alone

PTSD’ers sometimes need time for themselves because their thoughts and feelings overwhelm them. Give them space but don’t let them be lonely. Let them know that you are there if they need you.

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8 Memories

People with PTSD are haunted by the trauma that changed their life. Try to understand this when they seem to be overprotective, guarded or even overreacting in your eyes. Their anxiety doesn’t come from what CAN happen, it comes from what already happened. They know, they already have been through it. Their fear is very real and very logical. Remember that.

9 Change

Someone who experienced a serious trauma will change. PTSD leaves scars. Try to get used to the fact that your loved one will never be the same again. Love them the way they are now.

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10 Reaching out

Most PTSD’ers will not reach out if they need you. Not because they don’t want to, but because they often don’t know how they can make you understand what they are going through. They might not even understand it themselves. Be there for them anyway. Check up on them and show that you care. It means the world.

Don’t Judge, Just Care.

 

 

 

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Bottling up

Bottling up…Fighting PTSD

One of the most common (and annoying) parts of having PTSD is that you keep things inside yourself. Feelings, thoughts, emotions… It’s like you are wearing a mask and nice thick armor.

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Logical? Yes. It’s a survival strategy and it works very well.

Good? Until a certain point. It helps you survive. After that, it becomes poison.

The reasons

There are a couple of different reasons why someone with PTSD keeps things inside themselves. They can exist simultaneously.

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Numbness

After you have been exposed to a trauma, your mind can protect itself by going ‘numb’. You felt so much, was hurt so bad, that you start to feel ‘nothing’. It’s a way to continue living without losing your mind completely. You need to protect yourself from your pain.

Protecting others

You don’t want to hurt your loved ones because you are hurting. So, you put on a ‘happy face’ and trick them for their own good. People with PTSD can be quite the actors, ya know.

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No understanding

People who have never been through a serious, life changing trauma often don’t ‘get’ a person who has flashbacks, panic attacks, random anxiety attacks, periods of rage, depression or nightmares. So, you keep your mouth shut. No one understands anyway and they are just going to think that you’re crazy.

Not knowing how

This often occurs after the Numbness period. You have locked up your feelings for so long, you forgot how to deal with them or how to show them. It’s very difficult to trust, love or cry again after wearing a mask. You start to feel again and it scares you to death because you don’t have a clue what to do with those feelings.

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Now what?

This sounds familiar to you? Then you probably have one of these two questions:

Can I keep this up forever?

Or

How can I heal?

About that first question I can be short and harsh: No, you can’t.

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Not if you want to have a life worth living. Not if you really want to become happy. All those bottled up emotions will come out some day and that can be very unpleasant.

That second question is a little bit more trickier. It takes time and courage. A lot of both.

It’s not going to be easy, but you can do it.

If I can do it, you can too.

How?

First off all, start opening up to someone you can trust. Someone who understands.

Maybe someone else with PTSD. They will know what you are talking about, won’t judge you and know how hard it is. Trusting someone is one of the hardest things to do for someone who has PTSD.

But, it’s also a good way to start healing.

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Change your attitude.

Revealing things to someone from which you think they are completely crazy is very hard.

Let me tell this: They are not as crazy as you might think!

PTSD is not about what’s wrong with you, it’s what happened to you.

Your thoughts and feelings are a normal reaction on PTSD, like bleeding is a normal reaction on being stabbed. The only difference is that your soul and mind are wounded instead of your body.

You have to start seeing yourself as a warrior, a survivor. Because that is what you are!

Accept yourself. After that, you can start to get a better you.

Start small.

There is no need to expose yourself completely right away. Just start with some minor disclosures. You can see how the other person reacts and it will give you a safer feeling to continue. If talking is too hard, start with writing.

You need to experience firsthand that sharing pieces of yourself isn’t that dangerous and often has a positive result, and that on the odd occasion that one of your secrets is received badly, that it’s something you can handle. You have survived worse, trust me.

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Give it time

Opening up about things that you have kept hidden for so long is a process. It’s okay to get nervous, it’s okay to choke and be silent for a while. It’s also okay to get overwhelmed. Talking about your emotions and the things that happen to you can be very stressful and you can get overwhelmed when emotions start bubbling out of that bottle. Give yourself a break, you are learning here! Just don’t give up when it gets hard.

Step it up

Share slightly more serious things about yourself with people you know, and who you’re comfortable with. The more you talk and open up, the easier it will get.

Yes, it’s all very scary, I know. But you deserve to be yourself and you can’t be yourself completely when you are always guarded and keep things bottled up.

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I have successfully bottled up and used my mask for a lot of years. I don’t anymore. This is me and people will just have to deal with that because I am way happier and relaxer this way. Stay Strong!

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PTSD Quote

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PTSD Facts and Fables

Facts and Fables…Fighting PTSD

Like with every mental problem or disorder, there are a lot of fables and myths about PTSD. That’s not that strange, people can’t see it or they don’t understand it, but it can be very frustrating to those of us who suffer from it.

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So, let’s set some things straight today!

Fable 1

Only veterans can get PTSD.

Nope. Anyone who suffers from a traumatic experience can get PTSD.

(Sexual) abuse, the sudden death of a loved one, domestic violence, serious injury, witnessing or going through a terrifying event and more are all causes for PTSD.

Fable 2

Everyone who experiences a life-threatening event will develop PTSD.

Although it’s true that a lot of people have symptoms of PTSD after a life-threatening event, they can reduce after a couple of months. But, only when you still have the symptoms of PTSD 10 months after the event, you might develop PTSD. There is a difference between ASD (Acute Stress Disorder) and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

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Fable 3

After a certain amount of time, I should be over my trauma.

No. There is no time-table for healing from a trauma.

Sometimes a person can be just fine for some time, but then something triggers the memories and they find themselves plagued by symptoms.  Also, some people keep the memories of the trauma hidden away in their mind to protect themselves. But at a certain point, they start to surface and they may find themselves overwhelmed by things that didn’t bother them for decades.

Fable 4

My trauma was so long ago that it’s too late to do anything about it.

The good news is that it’s never too late to address your trauma. In fact, there are a lot of reasons that someone would wait to get treatment. In some ways it is easier treating people with a trauma that’s older than individuals whose event was less than a year ago.

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Fable 5

PTSD is only seen in people with ‘weak characters’ who are unable to cope with difficult situations in the same way that most of us do. You should just ‘get over it’. 

Are you freaking kidding me? If you are fighting PTSD you are a warrior! You are stronger than whatever it was that hurt you so much. Don’t ever think that you are weak! And for the ones who seriously believe this crap, I invite you to live one day, just one day, with my mind and see if you can survive!

Fable 6

If you have PTSD, you are crazy.

PTSD is a normal response on an abnormal experience. You are not crazy, you are wounded.

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Fact 1

Untreated, PTSD does not get better in time. It often gets worse.

PTSD doesn’t just go away. In fact, on many occasions, the flashbacks and nightmares get more severe as you remember more and more about the traumatic event you have been through. There is no shame in getting help. If you would break your leg, you would go to a doctor too.

Fact 2

PTSD can be triggered in a moment by a memory, an image, a sound, or even smell.

Everything that remembers you of the experience you have been through can be a trigger. This trigger can cause a flashback, a fall-out or even a panic attack. Get to know your triggers and, if it’s possible, teach the people who are close to you what your triggers are. It will save you a lot of stress and anxiety.

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Fact 3

PTSD can often lead to alcohol and drug abuse.

To numb, to forget, to try to cope with your PTSD, alcohol or drugs may seem like a good and easy option. They are not. It’s not dealing with the problem and it won’t take the PTSD away. If anything, it will make things worse. You will need more and more of the substance you are abusing to keep the PTSD under control. Besides your PTSD, you may now have to fight an addiction as well. Double trouble.

Fact 4

Trauma survivors who have PTSD may have trouble with their family relationships or friendships.

Their symptoms can cause problems with trust, closeness and communication, which may affect the way the survivor acts with others. In turn, the way a loved one responds to him or her affects the trauma survivor. A circular pattern may develop that could harm relationships. People with PTSD often withdraw from social life. Don’t let them go, be there for them and check up on them.

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Fact 5

People with PTSD have a high risk of committing suicide.

The flashbacks, nightmares and panic attacks as well as the social isolation can get so severe that someone doesn’t see another way out anymore. Also, depression is a common symptom of PTSD. Reach out and care! It may save someone’s life.

Fact 6

You can heal from PTSD.

The things that happened to you will not magically disappear. They will leave scars, like every other wound. But, you can learn how to deal with your PTSD and live a good life. This will take time and courage. Just don’t give up and keep fighting. Common treatments for PTSD are: Exposure therapy, EMDR therapy, support groups and cognitive behavior therapy.

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Fact 7

PTSD needs understanding, not judgment.

Don’t judge yourself for having PTSD. It’s not about what’s wrong with you, it’s about what happened to you. It’s NOT your fault. It’s okay to break down, you don’t have to be strong all the time. Just remember to always get back up and continue to fight. You are worth it.

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A Monster Called Depression…

Let’s talk about a monster that’s always lurking in the shadows shall we?

It’s a beast called Depression.

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This monster makes many victims every year, has the ability to show up out of nowhere and is a tough one to battle.

First of all, let’s see what the specialists can tell us about this monster:

Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being. Depressed people feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, worried, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, hurt, or restless. They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions, and may contemplate, attempt, or commit suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains, or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may also be present. Depressed mood is not always a psychiatric disorder. It may also be a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions, or a side effect of some drugs or medical treatments. Depressed mood is also a primary or associated feature of certain psychiatric syndromes such as clinical depression.”

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Like I said, one hell of a monster!

This monster comes in different sizes and shapes. Everyone knows the days that you just don’t want to come out of bed. The days you feel like crap and dark thoughts are swirling through your head. Those days are perfectly normal and your mood will brighten up after a couple of days.

But what if it not brightens? What if you are stuck inside a dark, cold shadow place and the monster that’s called Depression is sneaking up on you? What happens when that monster slowly approaches and suddenly grabs you by the throat?

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The darkness, the loneliness,  the emptiness and sadness become a part of your daily life. Despair, hopelessness and sometimes anger become your only reality. No light. No happiness. No hope for the future.

Of course you try to battle this monster. You fight with all that you have. But battle makes you weary and the sleepless nights make you weak. You don’t want to give up but….What was the point of going on again?

This particular size of monster is called: Clinical Depression and is the most fearsome of all.

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How to identify this monster.

Symptoms of clinical depression:

This monster called Depression doesn’t care if you are young or old. It sees no difference in race or religion. It just grabs everyone it can get its dirty claws on.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms of depression may include the following:

* Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions

* Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness

* Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

* Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

* Irritability, restlessness

* Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex

* Overeating or appetite loss

* Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment

* Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings

* Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

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What to do if you are battling a monster like this:

Recovering from depression requires action, but taking action when you’re depressed is hard. In fact, just thinking about the things you should do to feel better, like going for a walk or spending time with friends, can be exhausting.

Start small and stay focused.

The key to depression recovery is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Draw upon whatever resources you have. You may not have much energy, but you probably have enough to take a short walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one.

Take things one day at a time and reward yourself for each accomplishment. The steps may seem small, but they’ll quickly add up. Make a small list of things you want to do for the day and stick to that list.

In order to overcome depression, you have to take care of yourself. This includes following a healthy lifestyle, learning to manage stress, setting limits on what you’re able to do, adopting healthy habits, and scheduling fun activities into your day.

Aim for eight hours of sleep.

* Expose yourself to a little sunlight every day.  Aim for at least 15 minutes outside every day.

* Keep stress in check. Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out. Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can make a plan to avoid them or minimize their impact.

* Practice relaxation techniques. A daily relaxation practice can help relieve symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and boost feelings of joy and well-being. Try yoga, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or meditation.

* Care for a pet. While nothing can replace the human connection, pets can bring joy and companionship into your life and help you feel less isolated.

While you can’t force yourself to have fun or experience pleasure, you can choose to do things that you used to enjoy. Pick up a former hobby or a sport you used to like. Express yourself creatively through music, art, or writing. Talk to friends and family.

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Push yourself to do things, even when you don’t feel like it. You might be surprised at how much better you feel once you’re out in the world. Even if your depression doesn’t lift immediately, you’ll gradually feel more upbeat and energetic as you make time for fun activities.

When you’re depressed, exercising may be the last thing you feel like doing. But exercise is a powerful tool for dealing with depression. In fact, studies show that regular exercise can be as effective as antidepressant medication at increasing energy levels and decreasing feelings of fatigue.

Here are a few easy ways to get moving:

* Take the stairs rather than the elevator

* Park your car in the farthest spot in the lot

* Pair up with an exercise partner

* Walk while you’re talking on the phone

tumblr_n454pf0aig1sf6ldyo1_500When you can’t defeat the monster yourself:

If you find your depression getting worse and worse, seek professional help. Needing additional help doesn’t mean you’re weak! Sometimes the negative thinking in depression can make you feel like you’re a lost cause, but depression can be treated and you can feel better.

What to do when someone you care about is attacked by this monster:

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When you know someone who’s a victim of this monster,  don’t walk away! Don’t think that this person is faking these feelings and do not judge him or her!

Instead, try to care. Let this person know you care. Show your support and offer them a shoulder to lean on.

Because Depression may be one hell of a monster to battle,  it’s almost impossible to fight it on your own.

Tips to support a loved one:

  1. Be there.

The best thing you can do for someone with depression is to be there. Let them know you care.

  1. Try a small gesture.

Sending a card or a text to cooking a meal to leaving a voicemail. Again, let the person who’s fighting this monster know that you care.

  1. Don’t judge or criticize.

What you say can have a powerful impact on your loved one. Saying statements such as: “You just need to see things as half full, not half empty” or “I think this is really all just in your head. If you got up out of bed and moved around, you’d see things better.” won’t help your loved one at all.  Do not judge!

  1. Avoid the tough-love approach.

Many individuals think that being tough on their loved one will undo their depression or inspire positive behavioral changes, Serani said. For instance, some people might intentionally be impatient with their loved one, push their boundaries, use silence, be callous or even give an ultimatum. But consider that this is as useless, hurtful and harmful as ignoring, pushing away or not helping someone who has cancer.

  1. Don’t minimize their pain.

Statements such as“You’re just too thin-skinned” or “Why do you let every little thing bother you?” shame a person with depression. It invalidates what they’re experiencing and completely glosses over the fact that they’re struggling with a difficult disorder – not some weakness or personality flaw.

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  1. Avoid offering advice.

It probably seems natural to share advice with your loved one. Whenever someone we care about is having a tough time, we yearn to fix their heartache.

What helps instead is to ask, “What can we do to help you feel better?” This gives your love one the opportunity to ask for help.

  1. Avoid making comparisons.

Unless you’ve experienced a depressive episode yourself, saying that you know how a person with depression feels is not helpful.

  1. Learn as much as you can about depression.

You can avoid the above missteps and misunderstandings simply by educating yourself about depression. Once you can understand depression’s symptoms, course and consequences, you can better support your loved one.

For instance, some people assume that if a person with depression has a good day, they’re cured. Remember that Depression is not a static illness. Days will shift a lot before a person who is battling depression is victorious.

  1. Be patient.

When you have depression, hope can be hard to come by. Patience offers hope.

Sometimes supporting someone with depression may feel like you’re walking a tight rope. What do I say? What do I not say? What do I do? What do I not do?

But remember that just by being there and asking how you can help can be an incredible gift.

Most important thing to remember about this monster: It can attack anyone, so don’t judge, just care.

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