Depression is the most common mental health disorder, and it effects more than 264 million people globally (WHO). It can impact people in a myriad of different ways, from mood fluctuations to day-to-day debilitation, and can become a serious health condition if suffered over a sustained period of time. Some sufferers choose to take drugs or alcohol as a means of reducing the symptoms of depression, but this can lead symptoms to worsen in the long-term and cause the individual to sustain other health conditions. Part of our alcohol and drug rehabilitation programmes is to raise the client’s self-esteem, helping to eradicate the need to use substances, but it is far more preferable to prevent addiction and dependence from developing in the first place. Being able to cope with depression in the correct way is essential to avoid getting trapped in the cycle of addiction.
Many will not even be aware that they have depression, or they may have only just started on the slippery slope. Therefore, it is important to make improvements to your lifestyle before the cycle of depression takes over. Here are some tips on how you can help to combat depression:
See a doctor
If you are suffering from depression, make sure that you see your local GP as soon as possible. Less than half of those with symptoms of a mental illness actively seek help, and there can be numerous reasons for this. Some of the most common reasons for not accessing treatment include financial reasons, believing that the symptoms can be dealt with individually and not knowing what options are available. This vital first step can help in several ways. Simply being diagnosed with depression helps; this gives an explanation as to why you may be feeling the way you are and why simple tasks seem so difficult. The doctor can also look for the reasons that may be triggering depression and find ways to combat it. Finally, your GP is best qualified to advise you on how you can change your lifestyle to make life easier to cope with.
Often there will be reasons behind depression; including current job, unemployment, relationships, finance or even the weather. Make a list of ways that you would like your life to improve your life and form a step-by-step plan on how you can achieve your goals. Start with very small steps and remember to be client and realistic.
Exercise releases natural anti-depressants into your body. Not only does it create an immediate short term effect, but research shows that there are long term benefits as well. Don’t worry if you’re a bit out of shape. Start off with a gentle stroll and gradually build yourself up.
Get a hobby
Do something that you find enjoyable. It doesn’t need to be something that’s expensive or difficult, even a visit to the local museum or voluntary work will help. Not only will hobbies prevent negative thoughts from going around your head, they are also a great way to meet new friends.
Get a routine
Depression can remove the structure from your life so it is important to add a routine to your daily activities. Most important is to ensure that you have a good night’s sleep and to go to bed and get up at roughly the same time of the day. Set a daily routine, including cooking, cleaning and getting out the house.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Social media can have an adverse effect on your mental health for a number of reasons. The ease of access to other people’s lives can cause an individual already suffering from mental illness symptoms to compare themselves to others, causing the symptoms to worsen in the long term. Try limiting your screen time and making time for other activities such as exercise, reading and socialising in order to boost your mood.
Whilst there is no magic diet that fixes depression, eating healthily will improve how you feel. Not only does a poor diet affect your mood, but it also creates a sense of guilt when you know that you should be eating something better. There is evidence that omega-3 fatty acids(found in salmon and tuna) and folic acid (found in spinach and avocado) can help ease depression.
Many who suffer from depression will look for excuses to stay in the house and not see their friends. Keeping social will dramatically improve how you feel and your friends can also cheer you up. Talking to friends and family about your feelings and emotions can also be extremely therapeutic if you feel comfortable enough to do so.