Coping with depression is undoubtedly a one-step-at-a-time kind of process. Recovery requires action and dedication, which is a Catch-22 as depression can make you feel completely drained of energy and motivation. The first step is to realise that you have more control over how you feel than you think, and throughout the process of dealing with your depression you will begin to understand this for yourself.
Before attempting to deal with depression, let’s run through the general symptoms in order to identify depressive tendencies and tackle individual symptoms.
Symptoms of clinical depression:
- Severe pessimism
- Persistent anxiety, extreme sadness and the feelings of emptiness.
- Fatigue and low energy
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Loss in interest in usual hobbies and interests
- Loss of libido
- Overeating or extreme weight loss/loss of appetite
- Feeling of guilt, shame, worthlessness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts
What is depression?
What to avoid doing when feeling
By blaming yourself for feeling depressed and telling yourself that you shouldn’t feel that way can only be circular and makes these a lot worse. It can be confusing to understand why you feel so down, despite having lots of good things in your lie; whether that be a comfortable lifestyle or healthy and happy friends and family. But all that matters is you do feel the way you do, and that feeling is very real and deserves to be recognised, especially by you. Getting angry at yourself for feeling depressed because you think it unjustified is counterproductive, accepting that you feel a certain way despite all the other great things or not so great things in life helps a lot mentally. Once you accept this, you will be able to attempt to start recovery.
Everyone needs time to themselves and spending a short amount of time alone can be healthy. People who suffer from depression often opt to spend days upon days in isolation. When we are feeling depressed we have a tendency to lock ourselves away, avoid others and stay in bed. This isn’t necessarily because we don’t like other people, but we because we are afraid others won’t like you or want to spend time with you in your mental state. The truth is, people want to help and the people that you love and care for, love and care for you unconditionally. Again, isolation yourself for days is circular; depression leads to isolation, and isolation leads to depression. Even if you are in a situation which forces you to be alone that day, call or video call a friend or family member – the reminder of their support for you will brighten up your day! Furthermore, if you are alone by default, take yourself out of the house. Even if it is just for a short walk, the fresh air, vitamin D and change of scenery can completely uplift your mood.
Do not feel as though you have to deal with your feelings alone, seeking support whether professional or from a friend can do the world of good! And suppressed emotion can come back to bite you in the form of; continued depression, anxiety or panic attacks. Talk about your emotions!
There’s the common phrase “drowning your sorrows”, but this will not help. Relying on or turning to any type of substance or addiction disrupts the healing process, and consequently will take a lot longer. Alcohol is a depressant after all, and you do not need another problem on top of the one you are trying to deal with currently.
What you eat can change the way you feel for better or for worse. Lots of caffeinated drinks, large amounts of alcohol and food high in fat or sugar can cause anxious tendencies, which will ultimately only add to feeling of depression.
Eating well and exercising in general can make you feel good, whereas eating badly even on a good day can make you feel sluggish and fatigued. Don’t skip meals; you may have lost your appetite but try eating little and often to boost your mood – eventually your appetite will normalise.
Deficiencies in vitamin B can trigger depression, such a folic acid and B-12. Make sure to eat more citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs, and/or take a B-Complex vitamin supplement.
Accept negative thinking
It is important to constantly remind you that any negative or self-deprecating thoughts are the depression talking. Catch yourself doing it and try to combat it!
Types of negative thinking:
- Overgeneralisation: stemming from a single negative experience e.g “I can’t do anything right”.
- Jumping to conclusions (without any evidence) e.g “they must think I’m so stupid”
- Ignoring positive events and focussing on only negative events
- ‘All-or-nothing’ e.g “If I can’t achieve X, I am a complete failure”
How to get help for depression
Speak to your local GP, they can guide you in the right direction; whether that be CBT or medication. You can chose to go through the NHS for free, or pay to go privately to speed up the process.
Mental health treatment may be covered by a health cash plan, that allows you to get up to 6 times what you pay e.g £100 in cover equals £600 towards appointments and smaller treatments.
If you are feeling extremely low at any point or suicidal there are plenty of prevention hotlines available! Dial:
116 123 for the Samaritans
0800 068 41 41 for Papyrus
0800 58 58 58 for CALM
and of course, 999 for the emergency services.
If you are reading this in the hope of helping a loved one or you are just curious, to aid your understanding to what it is like to live with depression, watch this brilliant short made by the filmmaker Kat Napiorkowska.