How To Pull Yourself Out of Depression

How To Pull Yourself Out of Depression

If you’re suffering from depression, it can feel like a pit swallowing you whole in a slow descent. Every day you feel like you’re cascading deeper and deeper into that pit with seemingly no chance of surfacing. With that in mind, you may ask, “how to pull yourself out of depression?”

It may seem impossible, but there are ways to overcome this mental health condition. In this article, we will explore how to pull yourself out of depression and provide coping mechanisms and methods that one can incorporate into daily life to finally pull yourself out of the pit and start living life to the fullest.

Depression vs. Sadness: What’s the Difference?

Many who aren’t burdened by the weight of depression don’t fully comprehend what this mental affliction is or feels like. They often chalk depression up to a prolonged feeling of sadness, of being low, and an unwillingness to get over the feeling. This, of course, is not the case. 

While sadness is a component of depression, there are many other elements of the disorder that differentiates it from the more temporary feeling of simple sadness. The facets of depression are wide-ranging and they differ from case to case and person to person. That being stated the common symptom set of depression are: ¹ 

  • An overall “emptiness”
    • Ruminations of one’s self-worth and place in the world, result in self-hatred
    • Overwhelming sorrow 
  • Appetite fluctuations and weight gain 
  • Despondency for regular activities or in interests that once brought joy
  • Increase in irritability 
  • In deeper states of depression, there may exist suicidal ideation that can, if not addressed properly or taken seriously, result in self-harm or even death.
  • Sleeping complications, including either insomnia or oversleeping (in some cases it can be both in different cycles) 
what causes depression

What Causes Depression?

While it is important to identify whether someone has depression, the underlying cause of the said disorder can be incredibly useful in trying to best pull someone out of the disease.

Depression is not a one size fits all model and it’s important to remember that mental health does not fit a black-and-white causation reaction. Like with every healthy circumstance, there is nuance and complexity; what might be applicable to one person will usually not be applicable to another. 

With that said, you may develop depression from the following: ²

There is a common belief that the root cause of depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. And that prescription medication can correct this imbalance, thus reversing the depressive spiral. While medications can and do aid in balancing out symptoms, they’re not a cure.

How to Pull Yourself Out of Depression

Pulling yourself out of depression occurs through self-realization, considerable effort, and reliance on trusting others.

Studies have shown that real lasting and meaningful change to one’s own depression occurs with behavioral and lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Building a support network of friends and family
  • Diet changes
  • Regular physical activity
  • Routine therapy

When depressed individual takes control of their care and make small but significant actions to pull themselves out of their depression they report lasting results. These aren’t things to rush into or do all at once. Rather, they are actions that build on top of one another to create a cohesive care plan, one that can be useful for day-to-day life. ³

A study showed that utilized a behavioral activation therapy model for treating major depression in adults showed that the practices not only reduced depressive symptoms but that the impact was greater than treatments of antidepressants alone. ⁴

We are going to take a deeper look into some of the behaviors that have shown the best promise for how you can pull yourself out of depression.

1.) Break Bad Habits

Depression can become a response to long-term bad habits that go unchecked. Behaviors and choices such as abuse of intoxicants, drugs, and alcohol can negatively affect mood and cause complications to mental health such as anxiety, insomnia, mood swings, and depression. ⁵

However, it isn’t just choices and behaviors that can impact our mental health, it can also be the neglect or procrastination of doing things that we know can improve our overall health both mentally and physically.

The most common of these decisions that are put off is committing to a consistent exercise schedule. Exercise has been proven to ease both depressive and anxiety symptoms while also improving overall physical health. ⁶

2.) Make Lifestyle Changes

Branching from breaking bad habits, lifestyle changes are a fundamental way to pull yourself out of depression. Studies have shown that replacing a bad habit with a purposeful change toward one’s own well-being creates lasting results than just ceasing the poor choice, to begin with.

Although that isn’t to say that making sure a change is a simple or easy thing to do. It’s been proven that in order to make a change a habit, it takes dedication and time. There is a misunderstanding that forming a habit only takes 21 days. ⁷ This stems from a belief that has been around for several decades. However, what research and studies have shown is that habit-forming behaviors are more complex and can take months to years. ⁸

It can be affirming to have lofty goals when trying to put in place lifestyle changes such as building a new relationship, finding a new hobby, or breaking a bad habit. Still, it’s important to be realistic with the goals and yourself. Breaking a lifestyle change into segments or micro-habits can create a cohesive and more impactful change in the long term.

2a. Managing Through Microhabits

Micro habits have proven successful in those that are trying to make large-scale developments in their lives. Breaking goals down can be more manageable especially when you incorporate them into a daily routine. Micro habits also create a more achievable and goal-oriented operation to the lifestyle change. ⁹

For example, if someone’s long-term smoker wants to quit and start working out, it may be overwhelming to take on both challenges at the same time. Perhaps by breaking these large-scale goals into steps to take, a habit will form that breaks them of their addiction. Instead, a gradual reduction in cigarette intake and a scalable increase in exercise can ensure longer and more lasting results.

This structure of habit-forming behavior can be applied to almost any lifestyle change. The common lifestyle changes that can pull someone out of depression and anxiety are: ¹⁰

  • Change in diet
  • Increase in exercise
  • Spending increased time with friends and family
  • Forming or developing a hobby or interest
  • Getting more and deeper sleep
  • Abstaining from drugs, alcohol, and tobacco
  • Traveling outside the normal environment

3.) Find Your Purpose

One of the most common aspects of depression is self-loathing. Self-loathing is defined as a degradation of one’s own self-image, and subsequent ruminations of their place in the world. This fracturing of the structure of their lives can be really reductive and cause the person suffering to close themselves off further to things that bring them joy, such as hobbies and activities. ¹¹

It has been shown that younger people, especially those in their late teens and early twenties, suffer from depression more than those in their thirties and forties due to feeling like they don’t have a purpose. ¹²

The same situation can be witnessed in the elderly in that depression and anxiety seem to creep in for those that have lived the majority of their lives, raised families, and are now looking at their sunset years. ¹³

For both segments of the population, one thing that can start to ease the darkening of depression and anxiety is to find and commit to a purpose that brings them joy.

4.) Develop a Support System

One of the most impactful structures to put into place for those trying to lift themselves out of depression is to build a strong, reliable support system. It’s been shown that those who have a support network of caring and dependable friends, family, and mental and physical health staff have more long-lasting and rounded results. ¹⁴

The benefits of a strong support network are visible and can make the difference between success and failure. Having a group of concerned and caring contacts to rely on upon through the highs and lows of recovery and sharing developments.

These are the other common benefits that have been shown by creating and maintaining a strong support system: ¹⁵

  • Improved physical and emotional health.
  • Improved sense of belonging and security.
  • Relieving stress and recontextualizing circumstances.
  • Keeping the sufferer accountable.
depression support can make the difference between success and failure in treatment

5.) Stay On Top of Treatment

Overall, above everything else, depression is not a one-and-done sort of illness. It’s episodic in nature, thus there’s a rolling risk that even if depressive symptoms ease and may even seem to go away, a recurrence is always possible. ¹⁶

Therefore, building and commitment to a strong treatment plan with a psychological team can ensure that there is a plan in place in case a depressive swing becomes too much to handle.

A treatment plan may include having both a psychologist and a psychiatrist, one that incorporated talk therapy and the other that monitors and maintains the medical and prescription-based therapy options. It is vital that appointments are met, developments are made and any and all complications are communicated with the treatment team in order to best treat you and your individual needs.

Medications and prescribed treatments need to be followed and any changes or desires to change need to be planned and not done on a whim. Most of those that have major complications in their mental health often result due to a ceasing of medication or a lack of effort to follow up on their care. ¹⁷

Mental health treatment is a partnership between a patient and their support network, a breakdown in any part of that chain can break positive developments and send the affected spiraling.

Final Word

Depression can often feel like you’re a soldier fighting an unwinnable war seemingly against yourself. However, that doesn’t have to be the case, you don’t have to feel beleaguered by your own existence. You can take charge and find solace.

There will be changes that will have to be made but if you are willing to put in the work by breaking habits, committing to a treatment plan, and surrounding yourself with a good support network, the sky is the limit. Depression doesn’t have to be a demon that you drag around: You can make it the challenge you overcome to grow as a person.

Don’t go quietly into that dark night. Become the beacon you know you can be, for yourself and for others.

Your Questions

Do you still have questions about how to pull yourself out of depression?

We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.

Reference Sources

¹ Jefferson Mental Health Clinic: Getting Out of a Funk – Getting Out of Depression

² MindUK: Casuses of Depression

³ University of Michigan Publicaitons: Behavioral Activation for Depressive Patients

⁴ Medical Media Library: Behavioral activation therapy for treating unipolar major depression

⁵ National Library of Medicine: Role of unhealthy lifestyles in the incidence and persistence of depression

⁶ National Library of Medicine:  Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed

⁷ NBC’s West Charlotte News Channel: Verifying how long does it takes to form a new habit?

⁸ Harvard Business Review: What Does It Really Take to Build a New Habit?

⁹ National Library of Medicine: The psychology of ‘habit-formation’ and general practice

¹⁰ National Library of Medicine: Lifestyle medicine for depression

¹¹ National Library of Medicine: The role of self-blame and worthlessness in the psychopathology of major depressive disorder

¹² National Library of Mediicne: Goal setting with young people for anxiety and depression

¹³ Michigan State University: Recognizing depression in older adults

¹⁴ National Library of Medicine: Social and Emotional Support and its Implication for Health

¹⁵ University of Michigan – Eisenberg Family Center on Depression: Importance of Support Systems on Depression Treatment

¹⁶ National Library of Medicine: Risk for Recurrence in Depression

¹⁷ National Library of Medicine: Discontinuing Treatment for Psychiatirc Disorders – Effects and Complications

Leave a Reply