If you have been living with depression, chances are you have tried or at least considered therapy. While therapy can be a very useful service (especially if you find a therapist you relate to and trust), it can also be very expensive. This is especially true if it is not covered under your insurance or if your deductible is very high.
So, what are the millions of Americans living with major depression (or intermittent depression) to do if money is short? First of all, don’t lose hope. There are several options to look into. A combination of the following nine ideas may be helpful.
Check your local university for therapy services
If there is a university or college near where you live, they may offer free or low-cost therapy. Some universities across the nation offer community counseling services with graduate students in their psychology departments. These students receive supervision from trained instructors to make sure they are providing quality care. Some colleges may offer free or low-cost counseling services, as well.
Give your local university department of psychology a call to see if these services are offered to members of your community. Some of these programs are only open to students, while others are available to the community at large. Same with college campuses. It only takes a phone call to check.
Look for resources in your community
Check the listings around your community for support groups and meetings for people suffering from depression. Check your local community centers, hospitals and libraries. There may be groups that meet to talk more generally about various issues. A lot of this information may be available online as well. Check the websites for your city and county, as well as websites for your local hospital, to find options in your area.
Start a buddy system
If you have a friend (or a group of friends) who is also going through depression, or another mental issue, team up to tackle your respective difficulties together. Arrange a session where the two of you can talk, therapy-style, once a week. In person is best, but if that’s not an option, phone or even Skype meetings can work.
If you don’t know anyone who is in a similar situation, reach out. Start a Facebook group online or post on a community message board. Say you want to start a group for people who are depressed or going through a rough time to talk to and mutually support each other. You may be surprised by how many people answer your call.
Consider guided meditation
Meditation can be incredibly soothing and beneficial for the body and the mind. One of these benefits is helping to alleviate depression. While you can meditate at home by yourself, guided meditation can offer something extra. When you attend a meditation session, you are surrounded by others who are also there to find their center. Even if the others in the room have completely different lives from yours, and are dealing with different issues, there is a common goal afoot.
Immersing yourself in this environment can help you feel connected. You may also make new friendships and discover that others are having the same struggles as you are. Check your community listings and the internet for guided meditation sessions in your area. There are many different types. See this guide to find one that’s best suited to your needs. Many meditation sessions do not require you to be a member. Some are open to all faiths and denominations. Many are either free or ask for a small donation.
Writing down your thoughts and feelings can be extremely soothing. They may also serve to uplift your spirits and teach you a lot about yourself. Next time you’re feeling down, grab a notebook and a pen. Just start writing. You can write down what you are thinking, what you are feeling, observations of the world… anything that comes to mind. Or, you can just write in a stream of consciousness, not stopping to think about what you are saying until after you’ve written it.
When you go back and read what you’ve written, you may gain a lot of insight into your own subconscious.
Get out in the sunshine
It may sound trite, but getting outside, especially on a sunny day, can really help to alleviate depression in a lot of cases. This is known as “eco-therapy.” There has been research done showing that getting outdoors helped to improve the moods of people suffering from mental disturbances. If the weather permits, get out there for a walk. Get as much vitamin D from the beautiful sun as you can. Bring a friend or family member if you wish.
Getting your body active can work wonders for your mind. Research has found that exercise can help to alleviate mild to moderate depression. It may work for more severe depression, too — and it could at least help. So, get moving. Make a plan to exercise for at least half an hour, three times a week. A daily walk is also a great idea. Bonus points if it’s outside in the sun.
Change your diet
The things you eat, and don’t eat, have a strong effect on your mental state. Along with the other tips on this list, make sure you are eating a healthy diet. Check out this article for some nutritional pointers for combatting depression.
Call a crisis care center
If you are in a really bad place, and feel like you are losing control, it’s time to reach out. Call a crisis care center in your community — you can get the local number through your health department. The staff on the other end may be able to help you make a plan to get the services you need. Alternately, call the Samaritans 24 Hour Crisis Hotline or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The people on the other end of the line are trained to get you the help you need.
Tomorrow is a new day. Make a plan today to have a better future.
– Tanya Mead