Depression is a mental illness that most people seem to have some experience of, be it direct or indirect. Depression is controversial to offer solutions to because it is extremely multi-faceted; it can be due to genetic factors, brain chemistry, a response to illness, or social factors such as bullying.
As such, the best advice to give will always be to seek professional help from a qualified health professional, starting with your GP. However, this does not mean there aren’t things you can do to try and alleviate the symptoms or intensity of your depression.
Please note that the advice given here may not apply to all circumstances, and will likely not ‘cure’ your depression, but is intended only to explore options that may assist you in the interim. Please follow this link for an article on Treating Patient Depression aimed at care workers.
10 tips to help cope with depression:
1) Don’t think about the future: Focusing your efforts and energy on getting through today should always be your priority. The past can’t be altered, and the future isn’t set in stone; whatever you think might happen might not happen, and it is better to leave it to deal with at the moment. Doing this can help clear your mind and, as you get used to it, help alleviate a lot of your worries.
2) Be around other people: Being in the company of others means two things. Firstly, it provides you with something to do. Holding a conversation with others will help your mind drift off your worries, and might lead to laughter or even plans to look forward to. Secondly, it helps keep you safe. A well-known symptom of depression is self-mutilation, and being around other people means there are people around to stop you from performing any self-destructive behaviours.
3) Avoid Drugs and Alcohol: Many, many people turn to drugs or alcohol as an escape from depression. In reality, this is a terrible coping strategy. Relying on these substances to escape your depression will inevitably lead to addiction, which only amplifies all the problems you are facing (not to mention the number of health issues heavy drinking/substance abuse can cause). Follow this link to learn about Drug and Alcohol awareness.
4) Start Exercising: Multitudes of studies have shown that exercise helps manage the symptoms of depression. Deciding to exercise can give you goals to set that can help you look forward to a future result. The act of exercising boosts energy levels, helping you combat the lethargy that frequently combats depression. You don’t need to start running marathons either, any level of exercise.
5) Do your Hobbies or something you find fun: Depression can make you feel like you don’t want to do anything, but you shouldn’t let it stop you from doing the things you enjoy. Spending time with a pet, drawing, playing music, or doing whatever else you used to enjoy can help provide another avenue of escape that is healthier and more fulfilling.
6) Balance your diet: Depression can have various effects on your eating habits, be they overeating, undereating, or eating ‘comfort foods’. Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet will keep your body healthy and hopefully help give you a boost of energy to get through the day.
7) Try Volunteering: This will obviously depend a lot on the amount of free time you have, and as always only apply to certain people, but volunteering can help you find a place you feel like you can fit in. Alternately, it might just be something that gives you an excuse to get out of bed and do something; giving your time to others may help you feel better about yourself. Having the responsibility that comes with volunteering may also help you reorient your goals, and give you a sense of self-worth.
8) Use Online Support: Online communities such as Big White Wall and elefriends (since replaced by Side by Side) can provide you with the social contact that helps many with depression, without the added stress of actively travelling somewhere, or sidestepping possible social anxiety through face-to-face or phone contact.
Reading other people’s experiences on such sites can help provide you perspective or the inspiration to carry on and beat your own troubles too. Plus, the people on these sites will all have their own stress coping strategies that may also be of help to you, and you may be able to help someone in a similar vein.
9) Challenge your own thinking: If you find you tend to have negative thoughts, or expect the worst in all situations, then it may be worth trying to learn a new way to think. This can improve your outlook on life, and help deal with self-destructive over-thinking. Resources on websites such as Students Against Depression can provide more details on this tactic, as well as providing methods to learn to challenge one’s thoughts.
10) Talk to Someone: A friend. A family member. A person on a helpline like the Samaritans. A teacher. A stranger on the bus who noticed you’re a bit down. While you have to remember that other people don’t have to -and often can’t- give you advice, they can always be there to lend an ear to listen to you. You may feel like you will be a burden for others if you talk about your problems, but so long as they are willing to listen to you, you don’t have to force yourself to cope with it alone.
There are many other ways to help yourself if you’re suffering from depression, which you can find across the internet. Note that not all of these are going to offer useful or even accurate information though. As a rule of thumb, try to stick to government or charity websites; personal blogs can be useful, but unless they are a trusted and verifiable source it’s probably best to avoid them.
At Tutorcare we offer a number of Mental Health related courses.
For those looking at the broader field of anxiety, we offer our Depression, Anxiety and Phobia awareness training course. While our Mental Health Care range covers everything from Dementia Awareness to legislation on the Mental Health Act.