Depression is something we should never ignore. When we feel depressed, we need to listen to what our mind, brain and body are trying to tell us. Depression is a signal telling us we have something going on—that there is a “because of…” in our life that we need to investigate. The sooner you recognize the signals associated with feelings of depression, the sooner you can make the necessary adjustments to your life and get the help you need to start healing.
But it is important to remember that you are not your depression; it’s not your identity. You experience depression—it does not define you.
Because the mind is how we experience depression, and because the mind is our “aliveness” (the driving force that keeps our body alive and helps us experience life), learning how to manage the mind is of paramount importance. This means listening to the signals of depression we experience, not suppressing how we feel, to get to the root (the “cause”), and reconceptualize it.
Essentially, we need to become thought detectives to find the source(s) of our depression. This starts with understanding the signals that the mind, brain, and body send us when we are going through something. These signals alert us TO protect us.
There are 4 main signals: our emotions, our behaviors, our physical symptoms, and our perspective/outlook. Some examples are:
- Feelings of irritability and/or hopelessness (an emotional warning signal)
- Ignoring calls, texts or emails (a behavioral warning signal)
- The world feels more negative (a perspective warning signal)
- Muscle aches and/or pains (a physical warning signal)
Let’s say you feel down. As an exercise to help you start managing these feelings of depression, try to categorize what signals you are experiencing into these 4 categories. Some other examples of signals from a recent post I shared on social media are:
- Feeling self-conscious or flat around people
- Your personal hygiene goes out the window
- Your thoughts make you sad
- Your room gets messy
- Your hobbies no longer make you happy
- Brain fog
- You stop missing people and isolation feels more comfortable
- Constant fatigue
How do you feel emotionally? Physically? Are any of your behaviors bothering you? What is your outlook/worldview/perspective? Write this down any way you wish to help you start organizing your thinking.
Then, once you go through this exercise, you can start listening to what these signals are telling you, and work through how you feel to reconceptualize these thought patterns. For more on this, see my in-depth podcast on depression (episode #105) and blog on depression, or check out my latest book Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess and app Neurocycle.
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