A new study has found that following two sessions combining meditation and aerobic exercise per week for two months can reduce the symptoms of depression by 40 percent. Read the News
Casey Berman writes, “Now, we can’t blame the practice of law in general for every not-so-good emotion and thought we have, but it is safe to say that many of us lawyers who yearn to leave law behind suffer from a great deal of anxiety that is directly caused by our jobs. For many of us lawyers, our default position is to be stressed.” Read his Blog
CNN reports the findings of a new study which found that approximately 15,000 currently employed attorneys reveals that between 21% and 36% drink at levels consistent with an alcohol use disorder. For comparison, those numbers are roughly 3-5 times higher than the government estimates for alcohol use disorders in the general population. The study also uncovered similarly alarming rates of depression and anxiety, while further identifying why it is that most lawyers don’t seek help: a pervasive fear of harming their reputation. Read the News
Kerri K. Morris writes in the Chicago Tribune, “A few months ago, I told a friend at work that I struggle with depression. She was surprised and said, ‘How can you be depressed with your job and your family? You don’t have any problems.’ I swallowed hard. But, then I stopped and realized, I’m not depressed because of these things. It’s not cause and effect. It’s depression, and depression defies rationality. It doesn’t follow the laws of physics or of logic. Read her Blog
Depression is tough. Stress is also tough. Being depressed and stressed at the same time is even tougher. As a person who struggles with depression and has to manage stress on a daily basis, I have some good news for you:
Managing stress while being depressed is possible if you have a plan.
Depression has been a part of my life from as early as I can remember. Like a never-ending fog, I walk through it each day. As I have gotten older, I have discovered that it manifests itself in a variety of ways.
● Sometimes it feels like anger.
● Sometimes it feels like sadness.
● Sometimes it feels like emptiness.
● Sometimes it causes me physical pain.
● Sometimes it is a combination of the above.
● Sometimes it is all of the above.
Like most children, I wasn’t as aware of my thoughts and feelings as I am now, as an adult. At it’s worst my depression became extremely frustrating and overwhelming. The only way I knew how to cope with it was to act out.
Acting out included violent outbursts and harming myself.
● Acting out got me hospitalized 3 times in a psychiatric hospital.
● Acting out got me expelled from 3 schools.
● Acting out lead me to try and take my own life at age 10.
● Acting out mad friendships and dating difficult.
Nowadays, I still experience depression. Fortunately, I don’t act out like I did as a child. Through therapy, support groups, and being a mental health speaker, I have learned that there are other people who struggle with depression, too.
In addition to depression, I also get stressed out from time to time. Stress can be the result of challenges at work, at home, or in my personal life. Sometimes stress is the result of living your life. Let’s face it, life can sometimes just be overwhelming.
Through learning to manage my depression, I’ve also learned to better manage my stress. I’ve learned the hard way that being stressed while you are depressed is a crisis waiting to happen. If you don’t have a plan in place to manage both, it can end up costing you your job, your health, your relationships, and worst of all, your life.
Here are some tips that I have learned to help me cope. They are part of my plan to manage my depression and stress:
1. Get sun every day
According to Healthline, “Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. This is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.”
My goal is to shoot for a half an hour of sun. Ironically, an hour before I began writing this article. I was feeling extremely stressed and sad. I spent about a half an hour in the sun and am feeling much better.
2. Exercise every day
Like sun, it’s important that I keep my body moving, even if it’s just a quick ten-minute walk in the morning. In fact, you can walk and get sun at the same time. The combination of both, even for a short period of time will do wonders for your stress level and depression.
My trainer and nutritionist, Maik Weidenbach, has helped me manage both my stress level and depression with customized plans. Check out his article, Depression and Exercise: 10 Tips to Stay Motivated and Strong and his book 101 Fitness Myths.
3. Writing Things Down
When you are feeling overwhelmed, sad, angry, upset, anxious, etc…, a yellow legal pad can be your best friend. By taking a few minutes to write down everything that is on your mind you can quickly clear your head. As you clear your head, you will feel better.
Also, by seeing what is on your mind written down on paper, you will feel less overwhelmed. I am not sure exactly why this works, but it does. Ironically it’s an exercise that many therapists and professional organizers give their clients.
As I am finishing up writing this article, I feel a bit depressed and a bit stressed. Regardless, it’s not stopping me from being productive because I have a plan in place that I used to take care of myself today.
Managing your stress while being depressed is doable, but you have to be proactive. I encourage you to make a commitment to try one of the ideas listed above every day for the next week. I also encourage you to spend the next week creating a plan for yourself to manage your stress.
What will you include in your plan to manage stress while depressed?
Copyright, Daniel T. Lukasik, 2016
Sometimes, your best therapist is yourself—or at least a CGI avatar of yourself. A new study published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that virtual reality (VR) therapy can serve as a possible solution for treating depressed patients by encouraging self-appraisal and compassion. Read the News
Erika Z. Byrd writes in The Desert Sun newspaper, “Most people think of stress in a negative connotation. But the problem is unabated stress when women try to carry an ‘I must be all things to all people’ mantra. When they develop this expectation, everything becomes a ‘five-alarm’ response’ and when stress continues for more than six months, it can make a person prone to depression.” Read the News
Depression blogger Therese Borchard writes, “Stuck thoughts. Painful ruminations. Unrelenting obsessions. They are the curse of depression — among the most excruciating symptoms, in my opinion. More than any other symptom of my depression — more so even than unrestrained tears and bawling my eyes out in public — the stuck thoughts make me feel truly insane, scared to be living inside my body and mind.” Check out her 5 ways to help loosen depression’s grip. Read her Blog
Steve Petrow writes in The New York Times, “Most people, even those who know me well, don’t see my depression. I’m a ‘high-functioning’ depressive, for sure, and perhaps an artful one, too, obscuring its symptoms with a mix of medication, talk therapy, exercise and knowing when to close the door on the world. And unlike my surgical scars (thank you, cancer), those left by depression are invisible.”
Read the News
Depression corrodes our sense of hope.
Elizabeth Wurtzel, in her her best-selling book Prozac Nation, wrote:
“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”
We can’t imagine a future without depression. When we’re in the thick of its slimy grasp, our deadened and bleak state seems to go on and on and on. Days become more about survival and meeting our most basic obligations. And nothing more because we don’t have anything left to give. Our life becomes smaller. We’re treading water because there doesn’t seem an end in sight. We’re hit by the stun gun of depression.
Our most urgent hope is . . . the absence of depression.
But the absence of pain isn’t the presence of joy and all that makes life worth living. As Richard O’Connor, Ph.D. wrote in his book Undoing Depression:
“We confuse depression, sadness, and grief. However, the opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality – the ability to experience the full range of emotions, including happiness, excitement, sadness, and grief. It’s not sadness or grief, it’s an illness.”
Amanda Knapp writes eloquently of her own experience:
“Depression, for me, is a miles deep crater that I believe I will never crawl out of. It’s disillusionment born of an unfulfilled longing for peace. It’s fear that hope will raise me up just to drop me even further down. It’s a cocoon of despair snuggled all around me doing its best to keep me from breaking when the inevitable fall comes. The irony in all of that is that it precludes me from living and dreaming and hoping and praying. But I hold on to it so strongly at times, as if my life depends on it. Because sometimes it feels like it does. But I sit here today, decently removed from the worst of those moments of despair, and I feel myself longing for hope.”
It’s critical that we deliberately nurture a hope better than just relief from our melancholy. We need to rise up out of the dust of our suffering. It’s not enough to exist. Our existence must matter. Living a life with meaning and purpose give us hope because it brings out the best in us – even with depression. And it’s a heroic journey.
I once wrote:
“In my view, folks with depression are not so much hapless, as they are heroes.What’s a hero after all? Someone who has a great challenge to confront? Check. Someone who must confront great adversity? Check. Someone who must get up every day and do battle with a formidable foe? Check. You see, for those of you who are struggling with depression right now, YOU ARE THAT PERSON. You’re the person who has to get up every day and cope with your depression. Others can help and support you, but it’s ultimately your walk to walk. And what a courageous walk it is; every single step of it.
Some of the best people that I’ve been privileged to know struggle with depression. While they don’t have shiny medals pinned on their lapels, there is an unmistakable strength in them – even if they don’t see it. I know it’s real because I see and feel it – just like when I am in a grove of giant and majestic pines during a walk in the forest.”
Dr. Anthony Scioli, author of Hope in the Age of Anxiety, writes that one of the things needed to build up our hope muscles is faith and a spiritual foundation (whether it be in God, nature or a higher power) to experience a more open attitude for developing faith in others as well as the universe.
Pope John Paul II once said,
“Do not abandon yourself to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our hope.”
So, nourish hope in your heart. Surround yourself with hopeful people, places and books.
And resolve to be hopeful.
Copyright, 2016 by Daniel T. Lukasik