Depression is one of those things people don’t really talk about, but it often rears it’s ugly head during deployment.
Whether it’s brought on by stress or by worry, depression is a very real and very serious illness. Whether mild, moderate or severe, it takes it’s toll on you and your family. It affects your life at home and at work.
I was diagnosed with depression 7 years ago, and while I’ve been medication-free for almost 4 years, it’s still something I battle every single day.
Here are 5 tips for coping with depression during a deployment (or anytime): **Disclaimer: Please talk with a health care provider if you feel you may have depression or any other mental or physical illness. **
Ask for help - Taking medication does NOT make you weak. It makes you smart. It took me almost a year of feeling “off” before approaching my doctor about it. Don’t wait. The sooner you figure out what’s going on, the sooner you can fix it. I cannot stress it enough – seek out help if you are feeling “off” at ALL.
Know your symptoms - For me, excessive sleeping and fatigue were my symptoms. I knew when I started to get the “I don’t want to get out of bed” feeling that I needed to do something quick.
Know what works for YOU - I didn’t mind the medication at first. After a few years I got to thinking about how I didn’t want this to be something I had to take FOREVER when I knew that there were ways to control my depression naturally. So, I started playing with my diet and exercise. Experiment. Try new activities. See what works for YOU.
Have a support network - Surround yourself with people who care about you and know your symptoms. Let them know what to look out for – in my case, it was cancelled plans, excessive complaining, fatigue and mood swings. Sometimes, they’re the first ones to notice when you start to slip. And they can be the best at helping you get back on track.
Stay positive - This can be hard – especially when also dealing with deployment. But, you can get through it. Staying positive and looking for the positive in things is one of the most simple, yet difficult, things to do. Keep a gratitude journal to remind you of all that is good in your life.
Depression is not a death sentence. You can manage it, but you have to be willing to let others help. If you think you’re suffering from depression, please reach out to someone.