If you are affected by depression, you are not “just” sad or upset; you have a condition that involves intense feelings of persistent sadness, helplessness and hopelessness, together with physical problems such as sleeplessness, loss of energy, and physical aches and pains.
Depression is an illness and you need support to help fight it. Treatments can involve a variety of different approaches including antidepressants and psychological therapies. But there are also many self-help techniques you can use to complement professional treatment.
Options include attending a self-help group, making changes to your diet, improving your sleep habits and learning relaxation techniques. Research on acupuncture, herbal medicines (including St. John’s Wort), and aromatherapy suggests that these treatments can help to reduce anxiety and to alleviate mild depression.
Don’t expect too much of yourself, as depression makes it difficult to do what you need to feel better, but you do have some control. Make small changes, persist with them, and you will begin to notice a benefit.
Of course, it’s not that easy. Even small changes may seem impossible, so it’s crucial not to pressure yourself to take action. Imagine yourself completing a few small goals to start with. Consider the resources available to you: friends, loved ones, doctors, information, support from an employer, health facilities, outdoors areas to relax in. Gathering information can help reduce the misconceptions, guilt and fear which are often associated with depression. Look out for books and websites on depression.
Ideas for action include taking a short walk, calling a trusted friend, sending a few emails. If you feel up to it, think about communicating with other people in a similar situation. Sharing experiences within supportive relationships can help alleviate your depression and provide new coping strategies. It can be hard to maintain perspective on your own so, although it can be a challenge, it is worth breaking out of the isolation and reaching out for help.
Once they know how you are feeling, trusted friends and family members will want to help you through this tough time. If you’ve had some bad news or a major upset, tell someone how you feel. You may need to talk (and maybe cry) about it more than once, but a good friend will understand.
Make plans to have lunch or coffee with a friend and explain the situation. You could ask them to check in with you regularly, and set regular events for the two of you such as going to the movies, a concert, a museum, to dinner, or to a small gathering.