Everyone goes through funks in life—times where nothing seems to go right. Thankfully, these sad periods tend to go away on their own without causing too much disturbance to daily life. But sometimes, these sad periods are much more severe, and they don’t seem to go away easily. These are depressive episodes, and they can indicate a larger problem that may need professional treatment. But why do some people get these periods of sadness? And what can you do about it? Keep reading for crucial information on depression and how to get out of a depressive episode.
What Is a Depressive Episode?
Put simply, depressive episodes are periods of low mood and other symptoms of depression. These are different from other periods of sadness in a few key ways, mostly relating to both severity and the duration.
For example, in a person who is not experiencing a depressive episode, their sadness should not greatly impact their day-to-day functions. They might feel less excited about things or experience temporary anxiety, but they will still be able to go to work and practice decent hygiene. Additionally, these negative feelings should dissipate within a week or so as new events happen and take primary mental focus.
On the other hand, depressive episodes work quite differently. First, they can present with much stronger depression symptoms, such as:
- Lack of desire to do tasks that you used to enjoy
- Trouble going to work or completing tasks
- Feelings of intense guilt or sadness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
- Thoughts of suicide
With the symptoms established, it’s time to look at how long depressive episodes last. In order for a period of sadness to be classified as a depressive episode, some of these symptoms must last for two or more weeks. However, because of the cause of depressive episodes, this period of sadness and apathy is not likely to go away on its own. But before we get into how to get out of a depressive episode, it’s important to first understand how one happens in the first place.
What Causes Depressive Episodes?
If you are experiencing a depressive episode, it likely means that you are living with major depressive disorder. This is a common mental health issue, affecting almost eight percent of American adults. Generally, this condition manifests via major depressive episodes, where symptoms tend to flare up for weeks at a time.
Since depressive episodes are caused by an ongoing mental health condition, they are much more complicated to treat than a typical period of sadness. That said, there are ways to get out of a depressive episode, especially if you have professional help.
How to Get Out of a Depressive Episode
Thankfully, when it comes to getting out of a depressive episodes, you have many options you can try. Some of these solutions are things that you can try at home, while other, more intensive solutions require professional help. The way out of a depressive episode varies from person to person, but trying various solutions can help you find a path forward.
1. Track Your Symptoms
Journaling is a great way to monitor your depressive episodes and identify triggers. By recording your day and how you felt at various points throughout it, you can start to notice patterns in your depression. From there, it becomes easier to change your behaviors to avoid these depression triggers.
2. Indulge in Your Favorite Things
When you’re not in a depressive episode, what types of things make you happy? Whether it’s watching a comedy, reading a good book, or anything else, try to engage in activities that you know you enjoy. This can be hard, since part of a depressive episode can include not wanting to do things you usually enjoy. But if you go ahead and do them anyway, you may still get some of that enjoyment, which makes this a great coping skill for depression.
3. Reach Out to People You Care About
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation makes depressive episodes even worse. In fact, there is evidence that loneliness and social isolation can greatly worsen an individual’s mental health. But by making plans with people you care about, you can get some much-needed social interaction, which can help you get out of your depressive episode. You don’t have to do anything big or special either—just inviting someone over to sit and talk or watch TV for a few hours can make a world of difference.
4. Try to Practice Gratitude
When you’re in the middle of a depressive episode, being grateful is probably one of the last things you want to do. But by identifying the good things in your life, the negatives can seem less overwhelming. And for anybody, there are a lot of benefits that get taken for granted every day—having a home, being healthy, and even just being alive.
5. Professional Mental Health Treatment
It can be hard to admit, but sometimes a depressive episode is too big to handle on your own. But accepting professional help is okay. In fact, in many cases it is the best way to get your life back on track and to get rid of your depressive episode.
At Ridgeview Hospital, our adult psychiatric program exists to help people with issues like depressive episodes. Through inpatient care with mental health professionals, we provide evidence-based treatments like:
- Individual-focused therapy
- Therapy groups
- Proactive discharge planning
If you’ve tried other methods and you still can’t get out of a depressive episode, then it’s time to turn to the professionals. To learn more about how we can help, call our friendly admissions specialists at 419-968-2950 or ask your questions online. Figuring out how to get out of a depressive episode can be challenging, but we’ll help you get your life back under control.