Choosing to seek treatment for chronic depression can be difficult. We hope that seeking treatment can be something to be celebrated. When depressed, it is challenging to feel any glimmer of hope, even for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. However, like so many, you can truly find relief from your depression symptoms by undergoing this cutting-edge treatment. While TMS has offered excellent results for countless chronically depressed patients, results can be even more dramatic when combined with other depression management techniques. If you’ve decided to move forward with TMS treatment, consider also participating in one or more of the following self-care methods to further improve your health.
Reconsider Your Diet
The Standard American Diet (SAD) that most of us eat can create insulin spikes in the blood that make it very difficult to maintain a balanced mood. The constant roller coaster of blood sugar surges and crashes, which are the result of eating processed food laden with sugar and other additives, can wreak havoc on your depression. Many depression sufferers have found mild to moderate relief from depression symptoms by moving towards a whole food, plant-based diet, or low carbohydrate diet. Consider meeting with a dietician or nutritionist who can help you find the eating plan that best fits your needs.
Living an active lifestyle increases the number of endorphins, or feel-good chemicals, in the brain. Try exploring many different activities- walking, spinning, swimming, surfing, skateboarding, biking, yoga or dance classes- to discover what you enjoy the most. Even simple methods for increasing activity, such as wearing a pedometer to encourage more steps each day and avoiding the elevator by taking the stairs, can make a huge difference in both your physical and mental health. If you live a mostly sedentary lifestyle, take small steps to be more active, in a fun, non-pressured way, so that engaging in activity feels joyful rather than stressful or burdensome.
Reconnect With Nature
Making an intentional effort to get outside each day also benefits mood. Fresh air and sunlight help you to get the Vitamin D you need to stay healthy and well. In fact, a lack of Vitamin D is associated with depression. Additionally, natural sunlight helps regulate circadian rhythms to improve sleep and restore healthy sleep cycles. Supporting a natural sleep cycle and sleep hormones help you relax with less effort and manage symptoms of depression better.
Depression can be isolating. You may often feel too overwhelmed or exhausted to reach out to friends, family members, or other loved ones. Connecting with people who know and love you, however, can help you feel a lot better. Reminding yourself that you are connected to others and are an essential part of the world can help you remain motivated to continue treatment for depression and to avoid feelings of apathy and thoughts of suicide.
Connecting with a mental health professional by committing to therapy with a counselor, rabbi or minister, is also a valuable adjunct to rTMS. A trained professional will help you process your thoughts and emotions and will provide effective tools and coping mechanisms to deal with stress and depression. Remember that you are allowed to choose the mental health supports that feel best to you. Meeting with several different counselors to find the ideal fit is always a good idea. Feel free to shop around and choose the professional who matches your needs for mental health support.
Commit to the Basics
Depression can make even simple tasks, like bathing and getting dressed, exceedingly difficult. Even if you don’t plan to leave your home, be sure to get up and get yourself ready for the day. Not only will you be more likely to be productive, but you’ll be able to experience the satisfaction that comes along with checking something off of your list for the day. If you feel that bathing and dressing are impossible, start with small steps, such as brushing your teeth and washing your face. Over time, you’ll remember the comfort and positivity that comes with caring for yourself and feel ready to add even more self-care items to your regimen.
Cut Down on Technology
It is becoming more and more apparent that excessive screen time is detrimental to mental and physical well-being. Try to limit cell phone, iPad and computer time and curb your exposure to social media and television. Recent studies have proven that cutting down on social media can help reverse effects of depression. Spending less time in front of the TV will encourage you to explore hobbies, both new and old, as well as help you to be more active and imbue more meaning into your life. Less screen time, especially at night, helps you to relax easier and sleep better.
Managing symptoms of chronic depression is a lifelong endeavor. You may have several months of success where you are caring for yourself and feeling optimistic about the future, followed by weeks when you can barely get out of bed. All of these experiences are a part of the process. Be sure to be kind to yourself, and don’t beat yourself up when your symptoms become more severe. With time, treatment and disease management skill building will allow you to live a consistent life largely unhindered by your depression.
Congratulations on choosing to seek treatment for your depression. While depression can be extremely challenging to manage, TMS treatment, along with other, intentional self-care methods, give you the best chance to live a life in remission, free of depressive symptoms and recurrences.