Depression is a condition that appears frequently in psychological consultations; a worldwide health problem that affects children, young people, adults and the elderly ; as well as men and women.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 350 million people in the world live with depression, making it the leading cause of health problems and disability worldwide. In Mexico alone, 34.5 million people have become depressed, of which 14.48 million are men and 20.37 million are women; being the fourth cause of disability in the country.

Let’s see what are the coping strategies for depression .

The basic characteristics of depression

Depression is characterized by maintaining a state of deep sadness for more than two weeks, often without knowing the reason ; unlike sadness as an emotion, which is transitory and usually caused by something perceived as negative for the person.

To this is added an absence of pleasure and lack of motivation for any activity . There is an alteration in the appetite and weight, as sometimes there is a loss of these, while in some cases the person shows an excessive appetite.

Similarly, sleep is also affected in the form of insomnia or excessive non-restorative sleep. The person presents fatigue or loss of energy, showing dejection in his face and lack of care for himself; in addition to walking, moving and talking slowly.

However, the characteristics of depression are not limited to physical changes such as those just shown, as the person also experiences feelings of worthlessness and guilt about unimportant things, as if they were a hindrance to the people around them. Inevitably, limitations in mental capacity manifest themselves, i.e. thinking becomes slowed down and attention and concentration decrease.

Finally, thoughts of hopelessness appear , showing an apathy towards life; so the person thinks of death as a remedy. In fact, according to the WHO, about 800,000 people commit suicide each year, representing the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29.

Coping Strategies for Depression

What to do when a friend or family member suffers from depression? Let’s see.

1. Recognize their suffering

First of all, you need to listen and acknowledge their suffering. Suddenly, one often tries to encourage the person by using phrases such as: “Courage! Don’t be sad”, “Don’t cry anymore”; provoking guilt and frustration, since it is not up to the person how to feel.

On the other hand, when their feelings are validated and empathy is shown, we become companions .

2. Do not feed your sadness

It is not a matter of reinforcing their condition by encouraging self-pity or incapacitating the person, but of treating them as someone who is going through a difficult time. It also helps the family member to keep busy with walks, entertainment, small jobs, etc.

3. Take seriously any suggestion or threat of suicide

A serious mistake is made when such signs are overlooked, as the person may be giving a warning. It is best to keep an eye on the person with depression , not to leave them alone for long.

4. Seek professional help

At this point, it is very common to resort to medication alone. However, although it is helpful, it only reduces the symptoms but does not solve the problem of depression. So it is common to find people under drug treatment dealing with depression for a long time: months or more than a year.

In addition, the person on antidepressant medication does not begin to notice the effects of the medication until after two or three weeks of treatment. So the most advisable thing to do is to start a psychotherapeutic process to work on the required areas .

Tips to prevent this mental disorder

These are some recommendations to be applied on a daily basis.

1. Performs aerobic physical exercise

The chemical and hormonal balance produced by drugs can also be achieved or replaced by sport and physical activity.

Fatigue is a source of health and good mood, since this kind of exercise produces serotonin , which is a neurotransmitter that is related to feelings of pleasure and well-being; besides, exercise promotes a state of mental peace, decreases levels of daily stress and improves self-esteem.

These kinds of benefits make exercise the most effective antidepressant and, sadly, the least used.

2. Avoid isolation

A study (Nolen-Hoaksema and Morrow, 1991) carried out in the city of San Francisco (USA), showed that isolation favors depressive emotions and thoughts . It is advisable to have a support network, such as friends or family.

3. Keep busy or occupied

Whether outdoors or at home, find an occupation; that way the activities will help keep your mind off the thoughts that accentuate the depression.

4. Seek professional help

If these tips are not enough, the help of the psychologist will always be the best option to get out of the depression . Adequate psychotherapy can achieve the desired results.

Depression is a complex problem, so the recovery process is often slow, requiring patience from both the person concerned and those around him. Although depression often requires psychological intervention, self-help strategies are beneficial in supporting psychological treatment and even prevention.

Bibliographic references:

  • Jornada, L. (1 October 2018). Depression continues to increase in Mexico; women are the most affected. Vanguard.
  • Melgosa, J. (2008). How to have a healthy mind. Madrid: Safeliz.
  • Nolen-Hoaksema, S. and Morrow, J.A prospective study of depression and distress following a natural disaster: the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61:105-121 (1991).
  • Rodríguez, D. (October 10, 2018). In Mexico there are more than 2 million young people with depression. Publimetro.
  • Sánchez, A. (October 5, 2018). Everything you should not do when someone is suffering from depression. La Vanguardia.