Depression is a mental disorder which affects the moods you experience. The word is often used loosely to describe when one is feeling a bit down or sad.
True depression is serious mental condition and the first step towards helping deal with this problem is to get a proper diagnosis from your doctor.
They will want to have as many details of your symptoms as possible in order to work out the type and severity of depression you are suffering from. They may feel it necessary to refer you to a hospital specialist or psychiatrist.
It is important to remember that there is no quick or easy answer or a simple way of ‘snapping’ out of depression and treatment can take time to work.
Your doctor may, however, find that you are not suffering from depression but from episodes of low mood. This is not a serious medical condition but still requires careful attention. Low mood is experienced by everyone at some point in their life but severe episodes can border on mild depression and have an equally negative impact on your life.
On this page, you will find several self-help measures to help you overcome both low mood and occasional, mild depression. If you do not find them to be helpful, it is important to go back to your doctor to look for more help.
In addition, if you are worried about your condition or begin to have suicidal thoughts, seek medical attention immediately.
Often, people with depression find it extremely difficult to communicate with others. If they are overwhelmed by a feeling of worthlessness or inadequacy, they begin to feel reluctant to speak to even their nearest and dearest about their health concerns.
However hard it may be, it is vital to keep in contact with people. Speaking to a positively minded individual can be a massive support in difficult times. If you do not have close friends or relatives, then seek help from local support or community groups.
Many people lapse into depression when they feel that they have lost control of their lives. This can be a result of money difficulties, relationship problems or ill health.
If this is the case with you, it is important to tackle the issues head on as these are significant triggers of depression and probably lie at the root of your problem. Talking to the right people, such as a Citizens Advice Bureau for financial difficulties, will often help you tackle these problems more effectively, allowing you to regain control of your life again.
Keeping occupied and busy is also important. Some people become depressed after losing a job and find that their normal routine has gone. Start a new hobby or volunteer to help others. This will help you keep busy and if you are looking for a new job, your CV will look better. Remember that you will be able to do voluntary work alongside job hunting.
Diet and exercise have been shown to have a significant impact on mood. Exercise releases endorphins in the brain - these are neurotransmitters that produce feelings of happiness.
Eating healthily can make you feel generally better and healthier, and will also give you more energy. Certain substances such as alcohol are depressants, and regular and habitual consumption will cause your depression to worsen.
In addition, make sure you drink plenty of water. Dehydration has been shown to affect mood, energy evels and memory function, and women are thought so suffer more greatly from these effects.
Having a fixed routine has also been shown to help lift mood. This is because the body reacts well to a regular schedule, including the time you eat, sleep and wake. People with depression often have problems sleeping, but if you go to bed and get up at the same time each day, you are more likely to sleep well at night.
It is often difficult to express your inner feelings, particularly to other people, but having a way of venting these feelings can often be very helpful.
Writing a diary is an effective way of venting your insecurities, worries and concerns without fear of being judged. Try and write in your diary every day, not least so that you have a record of your emotional health and can see how you have improved.
When you are depressed, you can become disinterested in what is going on around you and reluctant to go out in public. It can then become very easy to let small details slip by you.
By dressing smartly and keeping yourself neat and tidy, you will have more confidence when out in the public domain. Some people also find that a new hairstyle or outfit helps them to tackle fears of being seen out of the house.
Negative thoughts can become more dominant than positive thoughts – when this happens, it is important to take action. Surround yourself with positive thinkers, and their natural reactions will begin to rub off on you.
Every time you have a negative thought, turn it around and make it positive. Every time you go through a negative experience, think about what you can learn from it and find some positives in it.
Of course, this can be extremely difficult and will take a lot of time and dedication as you will have to change your whole mindset. You may find that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) sessions can help you change the way you think.