Diagnosed/clinical depression affects one in four adults according to a recent UK survey. It can cause relationship problems, occupational difficulties, suicide and self harm, it can also make life a misery for those unfortunate enough to be affected. The good news is that it is treatable and there is a way out. Gaining access to good therapy and a well accredited therapist is a great way forward but here are a few tips for dealing with this most common of all mental health problems:
1. BUILD A GOOD SUPPORT NETWORK
One of the issues with depression is that we often withdraw from social contact but this can simply make matters worse as we then come to reflect on why we are alone and isolated and how we might well be a burden and not nice to be around. Its not just being around others for the sake of it. Try to be around those that make us feel good or as a minimum, don't bring us down with negativity.
2. DEAL WITH NEGATIVE THOUGHTS EFFECTIVELY
When we feel low and depressed, our thoughts become much more melancholic in nature. We are more likely to have negative thoughts about ourselves, for example, not being good enough, being incompetent, unattractive or a failure in some way. We may also have negative thoughts about others, for example, they are uncaring, punitive and may see us as a failure or a burden. Lastly, we may also have a very pessimistic view of the future and that it is hopeless and whatever we do next is consigned to fail. Using therapy, often through challenging negative beliefs and developing more productive ones, we can begin to shift this worldview. Sometimes challenging our negative assumptions can be too much to do on our own, this is where a good therapist will be able to help.
3. IMPROVE SLEEP
Many studies have demonstrated the correlation between sleep deprivation and disruption and the onset and maintenance of depression. Some key tips are to develop a regular sleep routine. Deal with negative thoughts about sleep, including catastrophising about not getting enough as this simply adds to pressure around getting to sleep. Wind down and get ready for sleep at least 1-2 hours beforehand. Be mindful of what you feed your mind and body. Try not to drink alcohol or drink caffeine prior to sleep and if you are a smoker, refrain from smoking at least 4 hours beforehand. Lastly, keep your bedroom for sleep and don't use it for taking work home or watching late night TV, that will simply stimulate neural activity.
4. EAT WELL
Research continues to find clear links between diet and mental health. In fact, there have been so many studies that have shown improving nutrition can prevent and treat mental illness, that nutritional psychiatry has become mainstream. Consult your GP or get professional nutrition advice before embarking on major changes to your diet. Please ask and we may be able to refer you to a suitable clinician.
5. EXCERCISE AND GET IN TOUCH WITH NATURE
Human beings are not designed to be sedentary beings. It is important to make sure we build in some form of exercise everyday. It is worth booking in to see your GP to discuss a suitable exercise regime for you. There have been recent studies that have suggested the positive effects of exercising are further enhanced by being out in the natural world. If you are near to a park or the country side, take advantage of this and go for a walk, simply being in this environment seems to have a positive effect on our well-being and may help alleviate depressive feelings alongside other changes.
6. RECONNECT WITH WHAT YOU ENJOY AND TRY TO ENGAGE IN MEANINGFUL PROJECTS/ACTIVITIES
One of things people report feeling when low is an inability to feel pleasure. Unfortunately, this can become another vicious circle that will require breaking. Making a list of things that have previously self-soothed or made us feel better is a good starting point. So for some it might be listening to music, a childhood hobby, walking in nature or cuddling a pet. Its entirely a personal thing, but its important to reengage with these behaviours even though we don't feel motivated to do so. We often focus too much on being happy and not on what can make us happy. Happiness can follow when we are engaged in activities that we feel gives our lives meaning and value. Quick fixes through alcohol, drug use, gambling or pursuit of instant gratification often leads to more misery.
So here are some basic tips. If you'd like to find out more, particularly relating to the challenging of thinking patterns and processes, please get in contact using or contact page.