Seek To Manage Your Depression, Not To Cure It
If you have attended a twelve-step meeting such as alcoholics anonymous, you have heard people describe themselves as “recovering alcoholics,” not recovered alcoholics. This is because they know that a return to drinking is an ever-present possibility. Relapse can occur after six months, a year, five years and even after twenty years of sobriety. Thus, those in the 12-step movement understand that recovery from addiction is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process.
The same is true for recovery from depression or anxiety. Unlike a childhood illness such as the chicken pox, one does not develop immunity to the disease. After having a depressive episode or a panic attack you cannot say, “I’m glad that is over. I am done with this forever.” I tried that approach three times, only to discover that my depression continued to return.
The good news is that while you cannot cure depression, you can successfully manage it. The tools and coping strategies that appear in these videos, in my book Healing From Depression, and in other self-help books can be used to balance your moods and prevent minor dips from becoming major ones. As shown in the diagram on this page, the five parts of my body-mind-spirit recovery program are physical self-care, mental-emotional self-care, social support, spiritual connection and positive lifestyle habits.
Depression is not the only condition that must be monitored over the long term. Take for example hypertension. High blood pressure runs in my family. It has affected my grandmother, mother, aunt, brother and me. Yet, by eliminating salt from my diet, eating more fruits and vegetables, exercising, losing weight, and taking medications, I have lowered my blood pressure to acceptable levels. Thus, my primary care physician recently said, “Douglas, you now have well-managed hypertension.” He also could have added, “Douglas, you have well-managed depression.”
Each day, millions of people successfully manage and live with their diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, as well as depression and anxiety. In the presence of these conditions, it is possible to live optimally and joyfully. May this become true for you.