Last month I wrote about depression in the briefest of terms (click here). It’s a major contributor to mental health issues and is on the increase. More than a low mood or ‘the blues,’ depression can be severely disabling and a real struggle to get out of. However, you are not without help in that fight. Any and all of the following can and will have a positive effect.
Compassion is a therapy all of its own. However, the depressed are notoriously down on themselves and there is a lot of stigma attached to the condition. So, be kind to yourself! You are not a failure, you are not worthless, you are not stupid for having depression, it is not your fault and there is nothing to be ashamed off. So, start talking to and treating yourself compassionately. Accept yourself as you are; good points and bad, accept that this is something you are going through, a disease that is a reaction to something stressful in your life. Focus on your good points, you do have them – lots of them!
Get some. Real quick. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is considered a highly effective form of treatment for depression, backed up by lots of scientific studies (as is hypnotherapy). Both therapies are solution-focussed (the type of therapy that’s thought to be more effective in the treatment of depression).
All forms of meditation provide an excellent buffer to the stresses and strains of modern life. Mindfulness meditation, especially, is receiving a lot of good press (again backed up by research) as an effective treatment. Meditation stimulates the production of happy hormones such as serotonin and dopamine. There’s a reason those monks look so happy!
The idea of medication scares people. But there really isn’t anything to be scared of. Yes, it’s a mood-altering substance, but so are alcohol, cigarettes and coffee! People are also often concerned about the side effects of antidepressants but, very few people experience those side effects plus, they are usually mild and of short duration. However, if your medication really doesn’t agree with you, you can quickly switch to one that does. Even aspirin has side effects – and few people worry about taking those. Some studies have shown that antidepressants help 80 per cent of those that take them. You don’t have to take them forever. Think of them as a sticking plaster protecting you as you heal underneath.
Study after study after study has proven a link between exercise and a lifting of mood for the depressed. Not only is it forcing you out of your negative cycle by getting you to do something but also, like meditation, it is producing more happy hormones. But, ‘get some exercise’ is easier said than done when you are depressed. However, if you can force yourself, you will be impressed with the results. You don’t have to join a gym; going for a walk will help. And, start off small, you can always build on your fitness regime.
Much has been written about diet and depression. The depressed don’t usually look after themselves; and so their diet tends to become poor or practically non-existent. Although there is no ‘depression diet’ per se, eating healthily, including plenty of nutrient rich food, foods high in anti-oxidants and going for smart carbs such as whole grains and so on will help. Think ‘Mediterranean diet’ and you’ll have it covered.
As with most things in life, an early detection is important. The earlier depression is diagnosed, the earlier treatment can begin, leading to a better outcome and a swifter resolution.