02 May 2015

Dos and Don'ts if You're Suffering From Depression, Panic Attacks or Other Emotional Distress

This is what is called in 12 step programs sharing your experience, strength and hope. This means that I am only an authority insofar as I have been through the mill. While I hope this will help someone, anyone, remember I am not an expert. However I have experience -- lots of it -- and want to pass on what I have come to understand.

Do exercise. If you normally do then don’t break your routine, if anything exercise more. If you don’t exercise, this would be a good time to start. If nothing else go for walks. Long walks are therapeutic and can be a good supplement to exercise.

Don’t use a lot of alcohol or drugs. Especially if you don’t normally get high. If anything cut back — way back.

Do eat normally. Don’t eat less and don’t overeat. Either one can and will worsen depression.

Don’t listen to anyone who tries to minimize your suffering. There are plenty of people who will tell you that what you’re going through or what has happened is not as big of a deal as you’re making it out to be. Don’t engage with these people. If a person wants to be sympathetic or share their own experience, that’s fine. It’s best to be careful about who you share with.

Do see a healthcare professional it's also good to explore alternative methods of treatment and you should do your own research. Not all doctors are experts and not all of them are quacks, but it's better to listen to them than is to listen to Hal over in accounting.

Do remember you will feel better. Maybe there’s no evidence of that right now so perhaps you don’t believe it, but its true.

Don’t give in to despair. Remember you are not alone. Not by a long shot. Don’t sit alone in your home. Talk to people. Even if it’s just online. If you are a member of 12 step group that's a great place to start.

Do meditate. If you already medicate, do it longer.

Don't be afraid to see a psychiatrist or counselor or anyone else who has experience dealing with people suffering from depression. Particular types of therapists may not appeal to you but that's no reason to give up on the idea. There are all kinds of people who can help. Keep looking until you find someone who's right for you.

Do go to a nearby body of water. Oceans are best but rivers and lakes will do just fine. Water is very soothing for a lot of people and is even  proven to have menial health benefits. Hills, mountains and forests are good too.

Don't hesitate to go out. See a movie. Have dinner with a friend. Meet someone for coffee. Go to a museum or a sports event. It's good to distract your pain with positive experiences.

Do take panic and severe anxiety attacks seriously. They can reoccur and make a person feel depressed and vulnerable. Attacks are terribly misunderstood and you will get bad advice from well meaning people about them. Consult a healthcare expert and not a know-it-all.

Do laugh. Laughter may not be the best medicine in the long run but it is really good for you in the short run. Watch a funny TV show or movie, check out favorite comics on You Tube.

Don't do anything that can never be reversed. You may feel awful now and maybe you suffered a bad experience, but this is not your new normal. Hang in there. It really can be darkest before the dawn.

Do take your feelings and experiences seriously. People will sometimes try to discredit their own experience and because their malady is not physical will not seek treatment. Emotional pain is just as important to deal with as physical pain.

Don't be ashamed. Many of the world's most successful and famous people have suffered from depression and other emotional upsets. You are in very good company.

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