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How to Battle Depression and Win

By Shannon Peel

There is no denying that this is a difficult time for anyone who sought support from others outside of the home, regardless of whom they live with.

Dealing with change in lifestyle is difficult even when one is excited about the changes. When a negative change is forced upon you, the ground is fertile for hopelessness and depression to take root.

This can happen at any time, not just during a Pandemic shut down. It can happen when someone you love dies, you experience divorce, your kids move out, you get fired or laid off, an investment tanks, your business goes belly up, you are in financial trouble, and when the world pushes you behind closed doors.

Battling Depression Quote:

“I have depression. But I prefer to say, ‘I battle’ depression instead of ‘I suffer’ with it. Because depression hits, but I hit back. Battle on.” — Anonymous

Different types of Depression

Not all depressions are the same and it is important to understand how depressed you are before you agree to medications. If someone you know is depressed, then understanding the type of depression they have will enable you to either accept the battle they are waging for the rest of their lives, or give you an idea about how you can help them get past this dark time in their lives.

Clinical depression is the type where medical intervention is needed. The following are different types of clinical depression:

Major Depression. People who exhibit depression symptoms for 2 weeks are longer can be diagnosed with major depression. The symptoms to look out for are sudden weight loss or gain,

Trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, feeling extremely tired all day, feeling restless, agitated, sluggish, feelings of worthlessness, trouble concentrating, trouble making decisions, thoughts of suicide. There are different levels of major depression, mild, moderate, and severe. Where someone fits in on this scale will determine their treatment. Most need to talk to a professional to help them obtain the tools to go into battle.

Some will need extra pharmaceutical help to balance brain chemistry or hormones. Medication is not something to avoid or be encouraged by non-medical loved ones to forgo taking.

Persistent Depressive Disorder (previously called chronic). People who suffer from this type of major depression have been battling it for over two years. Those who have this type need medication to balance their chemical makeup.

Psychotic Depression. This is major depression with hallucinations thrown in for *hits and giggles. Those suffering from this type of depression can see things that aren’t there, are delusional, or paranoid. This type of depression is very serious and needs to be taken seriously by loved ones who are in a supportive role.

Bi-Polar Disorder. Those who suffer from bi-polar disorder, otherwise known as manic depression, have extreme mood swings, which lead to self-destructive behaviours on both sides of the pendulum.

When they are in a manic phase, they feel invincible, have big ideas, and a truckload of energy. They don’t sleep when experiencing mania and they don’t have normal reactions to situations. A serious illness in a loved one won’t phase them because they can fix anything. Then the fall comes and suddenly they can’t do anything, all their plans and efforts go up in smoke as they hide from the world. For people suffering from this illness, the treatments are more complex.

Non-Clinical depression affects more people and thankfully is more temporary than it’s clinical counterpart.

Situational Depression. Most people who experience depression at some point in their lives have this type of depression. It is triggered by an event they have no control over and causes them a great amount of grief. At times they have lost their purpose, their reason for living, and feel like they no longer matter in this world. Once the situation has resolved itself or enough time has passed, the depression eases and they can lead normal lives again. Some people will need a mild anti-depressant to help them get through this time.

Seasonal Affection Disorder (SAD). We all can suffer from seasonal depression if we move to the north pole between October and May without any Vitamin D supplements. Those who live in places where the sun doesn’t shine for months on end, like Vancouver in the winter, seasonal depression can settle in, especially if your body lacks Vitamin D. With a special bright light and some Vitamin D pills, most people are able to get out of their funk during the long dark winter.

Postpartum Depression. This occurs in mothers who struggle after childbirth for a lot of different reasons, hormones, anticlimactic expectations, lack of support, life changes, lack of confidence, lack of sleep, and a number of other reasons. Mothers who are not bonding with their babies, cry all the time, or want to do nothing but sleep need to see a doctor, even if they don’t feel like it. They won’t feel like it. They might need someone to take control and get them help by taking them to the doctor and explaining what they are witnessing.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). This occurs in women monthly before their periods and can be hard to diagnose because there could also be PMS symptoms masking this problem. If you find yourself getting sad, disinterested, really tired, anxious before your period every month, you may need pharmaceutical help to manage your hormones or brain chemistry.

Battling Depression Quote:

“When people don’t know exactly what depression is, they can be judgmental.” – Marion Cotillard

Different types of Supporters for Depression

You need an army to fight with you against the enemy. No one can win this war without support and help. It is easier for someone to remain in the dark alone instead of asking for help. Those who speak up and ask for help are brave and have the strength to get better because they took the hardest step – the first one.

You need to fill your army’s ranks with supporters who are equipped to help you. It is important you recruit more than one, as it is unfair to expect one person to take on the burden of helping you get back on your feet.

As the General of this army it is important for you to care for your troops. Unless you are paying for professional help, your support system is not all about you. It is important you find ways to support those friends and family members who step up to help you. When you help others you find purpose and meaning in your life, which will help you to get better.

Therapist. You need to find someone who will hear you and listen to what you are saying. Someone who is trained to help depressed people understand what is going on in their heads and can ask the right questions to unlock doors to discover solutions. It is important you find the right person and understand the type of therapy they offer so you can understand what to expect from it.

If you have major depression, you need to find a professional therapist, not a life coach, not a friend, not your mother.

Friends. People you can call and will drop what they are doing to go to a movie with you, go for a walk, have some coffee, whatever activity you enjoy doing. These people are there for you and you are there for them. It’s a two-way street. If it isn’t a two-way street – you need to evaluate your capacity to be a good friend or your type of friends.

Pet. Pets can work wonders on your soul by loving you and being there when you need them for a snuggle or a quiet listener.

Family. This area of people can be a minefield. If you have a toxic family then you need to look to others for support. If you have supportive family, be grateful for them and do whatever you can to be supportive back.

Family members aren’t your therapist, your savior, or your get out of jail free card. They are the people who love you no matter what stupid thing you do or say. Don’t expect them to carry your burden or be someone they aren’t.

Mentors, Teachers, Leaders. Throughout our lives we come across different people who mentor us, teach us, and lead us. These people can help you by sharing their stories of how they battle depression and give you helpful advice.

Understand their role in your life, they aren’t your BFF or your therapist. These are people who have been where you are and can teach you what worked for them. Some of it will work for you, some of it won’t. Be thankful for their time and listen attentively to their stories to find weapons you can use in your battles.

Avoid people who think they have it all figured out and an “if I can do it you can do it” philosophy, especially if they believe in a one size fits all solution. They are unable to see people as different from themselves and don’t understand others need different solutions.

If someone is quick to give you advice and slow to listen to what you are actually going through, don’t look to them for help. They are incapable of hearing you and don’t have the empathy to truly understand you, your story and where you are on your journey.

Make sure those whom you turn to are equipped to help and you are realistic in your expectations of them. Most importantly, find a therapist who is trained in your type of depression.

Battling Depression Quote

“Whenever I have a good few months and I think I’ve gotten over the worst on my depression, it silently returns. This isn’t a battle I asked to fight. I’m tired of knowing it’s always coming back.” — Anonymous

Different types of Treatments for Depression

Every soldier needs training to be effective in battle. For those battling depression, training comes in the form of therapy. There are three distinctive camps Psycho, Behavioural, and humanistic, all of which will provide you with the weapons you need to win this fight.

Psychodynamic Therapies for Depression

Psychodynamic Therapy – It is the lie on the couch and talk your problems away by diving deep into your past to discover why you are struggling in the present. These one-hour sessions with trained psychological professionals asking you “How does that make you feel,” go one for as long as the person need help. Psychodynamic Therapy believes chronic problems are rooted in the unconscious mind and need to be understood for a catharsis to occur. It helps the person become self-aware of their unconscious patterns and how they formed in order to rewire or change the pattern. Psychodynamic therapy is focused on the individual and is patient led free form sessions without a predetermined subject to discuss.

Freudian Therapy – This is the original therapy theory of the unconscious (id) which is moderated by the ego and the superego, and controls the id impulses through guilt and shame. You must dig deep into your childhood for an answer.

Ego Therapy – This type is derived from the Freudian and focuses on ego function as it relates to world outside the individual. It focuses on the individual’s capacity to form defenses, adapt, and test reality.

Object Relations Therapy This theory believes individuals are formed by those around them. The individual struggles to maintain relationships with other people while being unique. The representation of self is created in childhood and played out in adult relationships. We repeatedly engage in the same type of relationships to become free of them.

Self-Psychology therapy Self is the individual’s perception of their experience and their self-esteem. It focuses on the individuals perceived relationship with others based on differentiators and boundaries. It believes that those who choose self-destructive behaviours have a weakness at the core of their personalities. By engaging in addictive behaviours, they are trying to fill a void in their self-esteem.

Where Psychotherapy looks deep inside the individual and can take an indeterminate amount of time to root out the cause and then create different patterns in behaviour, cognitive therapies focus on changing the behaviour in the present.

The more modern, Cognitive therapy focuses on what is happening now and doesn’t dive into your subconscious mind or your childhood, it is only concerned with what is going on right now.

“The alternative, “problem-based” therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, aim to reduce or eliminate symptoms instead of exploring the client’s deep-seated needs, urges, and desires (McLeod, 2014). “As a result, the therapy sessions are scheduled for a short period of time, follow a set course like structure, occur in both group and one on one sessions.

Battling Depression Quote:

“Depression isn’t a war you win. It’s a battle you fight every day. You never stop, never get to rest. It’s one bloody fray after another.” ― Shaun David Hutchinson, We Are the Ants

Cognitive Therapies for Depression

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy courses – These 20 session courses will help you understand your behaviours and your thought patterns to gain control over your mind and emotions. It is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on how a person’s thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes affect their feelings and behaviors. CBT focuses on the thoughts and feelings of the moment to change a person’s mindset and thereby affect their emotions at that moment. It can give you the weapons you need to combat depression during the darkest of times.

Dialectic Behavioural Therapy – Is a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy developed in 1980 to treat borderline personality disorder. Dialectics is based on the concept that everything is composed of opposites and change occurs when there is a dialogue, an example of this is my courtroom weapon, which attacks lies with truth. This therapy helps you to live in the moment, regulate emotions, manage stress, and build better relationships.

Mindfulness Therapy This 8-week course marries mindfulness meditation and techniques with interactive cognitive subsystem theory which says our mind has two modes to receive and process data, a being mode and a doing mode. It helps to disconnect thoughts from moods to liberate a person from their negative thought patterns and replace them with positive thought patterns.

Systematic therapy This therapy is derived from the belief we are all interconnected and how we interact affects the individual. It is used in family and couples therapy to understand how the unit interacts, communicates, and behaves towards each other to teach new communication and behavioural techniques. If your family is part of the cause of your depression, consider this type of therapy.

Supportive therapy This type of therapy is different than most psychotherapies which ask questions to help the person find the answers for themselves. A supportive therapist will inject their opinions, advice, encouragement, reassurance, and comfort when needed. They still listen to the person. However, they are actively helping the person by telling them what they need to do instead of allowing them to figure it out for themselves. This type of therapy is good for people who are unable to care for themselves or find it hard to think for themselves.

Cognitive therapies are short term therapies using positive thinking and mindfulness techniques in a course format. These therapists are focused on the present and changing your thought patterns without diving deep into the cause. It provides a group of people the tools (weapons) to win battles, but they won’t help you win the war. If you have clinical depression, you still need to find someone willing to dive into the cause and help you to understand how you got where you are and how you can move forward in the long run. A combination of therapies and drugs may be required to get you battle ready.

Humanistic Therapies for Depression

Humanistic therapy believes people can make choices to develop to their maximum potential. Unlike cognitive therapies, Humanistic therapy focuses on the individual instead of a group to define the approach. Cognitive therapies are a one size fits all type therapy with set course outline and worksheets. Humanistic emphasizes positive behaviours and the ability of the individual to achieve self-actualization through self-exploration.

Client Centered Therapy – This type of therapy let’s “clients” tell their own stories at their own pace in their own way. The therapist is there only to listen and create a safe non-judgemental environment for the individual to explore the meaning for themselves. It is believed that the client knows more about themselves than the therapist does so they do not need the guidance or wisdom of an expert.

Gestalt Therapy – This method helps clients to focus on the now and understand what is really happening rather than what they perceive as occurring based on their past experiences. Clients do more than talk about their past, they re-experience them through re-enactment to understand what really happened instead of what they remember.

Existential Therapy – Therapists help individuals find meaning and purpose in their lives to end the fear of the unknown. It believes you have free will to determine your future and help to make the choices with less anxiety and more authenticity.

What is Depression Quote:

“When you’re depressed you don’t control your thoughts, your thoughts control you. I wish people understood that.” — Anonymous

Different types of Tools for Depression

1. Knowledge:

The first weapon to take into battle is the knowledge that your mind and emotions lie to you. That’s right, they lie. You can’t trust them.

Crazy talk you say. Considering depression is sneaky and attacks your emotions and thoughts, like a demon whispering in your ear, it can make you do things you would not do in saner happier moments.

I’m not saying depressed people hear demons, unless they have psychotic depression. What I’m saying is your mind is feeding you lies by saying, “You don’t matter.” “No one cares about you.” “No one would notice if you disappeared.” “You are worthless.” “You can’t do anything right.” … You get the point.

These lies can be backed up with evidence from the outside world. Your brain says, “No one wants you.” Then provides the evidence to back up its claim, With evidence, it can be easy to believe the lies so you need the second weapon.

2. A Journal:

Write letters in a journal about how you are feeling and why. As you write your thoughts will become less jumbled and you will be able to analyze them.

3. Argue with Yourself

The third weapon, become a lawyer. Your mind says, “No one wants you.” And gives you evidence to back up the lie. What do you do?

You become a defence lawyer. “What about…” You list the people who want you in their lives to balance it against the prosecution’s evidence. You need to be honest and list those you take for granted.

Then comes the cross and the prosecution can be cruel. “No one wants you because you are always alone.”

Now it’s time to get real and be brutally honest with yourself. “I’m alone all the time because I choose to be so I can do the things I want to do without interruption.” The key is to be brutal with yourself during cross to get to the truth.

When we are in self-pity mode, we make “All” statements and can’t see what is in front of us because we aren’t getting what we wanted.

For example, the prosecution says, “No one will ever love you because you never get asked out.” At this point you have to be honest. Do you really never get a date or do the only ones asking not interest you? Keep going back and forth until you discover why you are struggling to find love.

4. Distraction

Another weapon is distraction. You need to distract your mind. Listen to audio books, play upbeat music, work on a project. Do something to occupy your mind.

5. Lists

As much as it pains me to say this, gratitude and affirmation lists work. They remind you of all the good things in your life when you can’t remember one good thing.

Affirmations balance the scales by offsetting the lies with truths. I’m not talking about positive thinking falsehoods or faking it ‘til you make it statements. I mean truths. When you are mentally strong and in a good place make a list of truths to reference when you need to.

6. Take inventory.

One of the ways depression will get you is to remind you about what you’ve lost or what you don’t have anymore. Take stock of what you do have, what you own, your skills, your talents, your achievements. Don’t think about what you want – focus on what you have.

7. Find your purpose.

Without a purpose, a reason for living, you can get caught in the undertow and get dragged down to where thoughts of suicide live. You need to find your purpose and then make plans to fulfill that purpose.

8. Dream of tomorrow.

This is different than taking inventory. This works when you get stuck in the past and your present situation will not get you out of it. Dream of tomorrow. Something you can obtain by taking action. Try to stay away from things where you need another person to make it a reality, like getting married or getting your dream job.

Think about your dream vacation and then plan it. Research it, find out how much it would cost, what Air BnB or hotel would you choose, everything. Save pictures to a Pinterest board. Pick something you can get excited about and you can achieve on your own.

Other weapons are:

Calling a friend.

Going for a walk.

Go for a drive.


Watch a comedy.

Listen to a stand-up comedian’s podcast.

Clean the house.

Have a shower.

Find zoom meetups.

Take an online course.

Create a vision board.

Read a book.

The key is to do something. Anything. Just lying in bed won’t help you get better. If you know what your purpose is, act on it.

During the pandemic feelings of isolation have increased, domestic violence is up, and people are disconnected. This is an environment depression thrives in.

It is important you work with someone who is trained in depression, who will listen to you, ask questions, and strive to understand where you are coming from instead of someone who wants to tell you how to live.

Avoid people who think they have it all figured out and an “if I can do it, you can do it” philosophy. Many of those who believe in a one size fits all solution are unable to see people as different from themselves and don’t understand others need different solutions.

If someone is quick to give you advice and slow to listen to what you are actually going through, move on. They are incapable of hearing you and don’t have the empathy to truly understand you, your story, and where you are on your journey.

Stay away from positive thinking people who jump down your throat when you make a statement which they deem negative and fling placating positive thinking statements at you. These people only want the happy positive you and are not equipped to help the sad, depressed you. Instead look to those who have the skills and training to truly help you.

Not everyone will be able to help you. It is important you don’t expect them to save you, be there for you, or fix you. Only you can do that with guidance from trained therapists willing to ask questions and listen to your story.

Understanding Depression Quote

“If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather.” — Stephen Fry


Feeling Anxious? Check out Buzz Rx's comprehensive article on Anxiety.



Shannon Peel is a writer and storyteller who publishes the Digital Magazine, APeeling, full of real stories by real people with real solutions for life and work.

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