Gay & Lesbian Services of Western New York

Things that you can do when you are depressed

An earlier Info page took up the issue of depression and associated symptoms as well as suicidal feelings (“Depression and Suicidal Thoughts”). This edition continues that topic focusing on things that you can do to help yourself.

Depression can be a reaction to things that occur to you; chronic stress like harassment at school, a loss of a love or an important friendship, a difficult home environment to name a few. Therapists call this type exogenous. Depression can also come from inside us as a result of our family genetic makeup, personality traits like perfectionism, pessimism, negativism, feeling conflicted, guilty or frustrated for a long period or feeling conflicted over sexual orientation. Therapists call this form endogenous. Depression and suicidal feelings are often the result of an increase in emotional pain along with a real or perceived reduction in coping resources. You begin to feel trapped and victimized by your circumstances and start to feel hopeless. To feel better, you need to find a way to reduce your pain or a way to increase your coping resources or both.

Some things to do to reduce pain and increase coping:

Reduce contact with the cause of pain if it is in your environment. So, for example, if you suffer harassment at school don’t isolate yourself; Hang with people with whom you feel safe and good about yourself; Talk to a trusted adult; Get involved in a school activity or group to feel more involved. If the problem is at home then try to get involved in more positive activities outside the home (like GLYS); Find a more private space and activity at home to work on a hobby or homework. When I was a teen and a fight was breaking out (a routine occurrence) I would go down to the basement and work on a painting or woodwork or study in my room or the porch(weather permitting). Looking back I spent a lot of my teen years in the basement or at some school extracurricular activity.

-Locate others who are going through similar experiences or who have successfully gotten through them and use them for support. The Internet can be a tool here as well.

-Remember that in life you can count on change: People grow up and leave home; You move on to the next grade and eventually graduate; You can make new friends.

If the source of pain is internal:

-Find someone to talk to or write down your feeling and experiences in a journal or diary to externalize them a little.

-Get involved in activities that take your mind off yourself and focus your energies more positively.

-Socialize more; isolation only adds to your pain.

-Take good physical care of yourself: eat well, get enough sleep, exercise and develop healthy daily routines.

-Try to focus on one thing at a time and try to complete it before moving to something else to increase your sense of mastery and success and reduce feeling overwhelmed.

-Many drugs as well as alcohol are depressants to begin with and only reduce your ability to find more positive coping skills. In the end they don’t help and only add to the problem.

If your situation or your mood doesn’t begin to improve after a few weeks then talk to a counselor at school who may be able to help you directly or certainly help find someone who can. If talking face to face with someone seems too threatening or if your having suicidal feelings and ideas then call Crisis Services at 834-3131 (available 24/7) and talk with a staff person on the phone. Or, there is a toll free number in California at the Trevor project Hotline (a GLBT teen suicide hotline) It is 1-800-850-8078

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