I think I am depressed, what can I do to get better?

I had a black dog, his name was depression.
30 Nov 2014
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I think I am depressed, what can I do to get better?

The first thing to do if you suspect that you may be depressed is to speak to a mental health care practitioner or a medical practitioner in order to make a diagnosis and exclude other medical conditions.

Depression can be managed with or without medication. Either route you take it will really make a difference if you make some changes in your day-to-day routine.

Ive used this wellness wheel to look at different aspects where simple changes can be made.

wellness_wheel_1

Intellectual

Educate yourself about depression, read websites, books. I always say you can’t try to ‘beat’ depression without fully understanding what it is. These are websites I would look at for more information.

South African Depression and Anxiety group

Black Dog Institute

Social

This is a tough one. You may not feel like socializing at all. Sometimes you may need just to go through the motions while you are feeling down. Surround yourself with people who care about you and understand what you are going through. Try not to avoid socializing altogether, but also be careful of overcommitting while you are not feeling strong.

Occupational

Many people, when they are depressed, can carry on functioning at work. Some, unfortunately, are not able to. Sometimes taking time off work is what you need, especially if you work in a high stressed environment. ( which most of us do in Joburg…)

Spiritual

Whatever faith you follow, this can be a huge source of support. Investigate at your places of worship what support they can offer you.

Emotional

Depression responds well to psychotherapy. There are different types of therapy that are proven to help. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, individual supportive therapy and Group therapy.

Environmental

Structure helps. I have seen patients recover from depression where the only change they make is a structural one. Write up a program for your day to day activities. Try and wake up and go to bed at the same time, have regular meals. Even if you need to sleep during the day, get up first if you can, get bathed and dressed, and then later go sleep. As you improve, you will need less sleep during the day. Try and plan a ‘treat’ for yourself every day. Some ideas of treats are a cup of coffee with a friend, getting a massage, a walk in the park, reading your favourite magazine, painting your nails, watching a new TV series, etc.

Try and keep your environment as positive as possible. Surround yourself with things that make you happy. Flowers, soft blankets, heat pads. Tidy up- even if you put things into boxes or bags to deal with at a later stage. A clear, tidy room can clear your mind.

Physical

Exercise. Exercise needs its whole own post, since it is so important and has been proven to help decrease depressive symptoms. I understand that when you are depressed it is probably the last thing you feel like doing. My advice would be to try and force yourself to do a little bit of exercise every day, even if it is just a short 15 minute walk.

Medication

I have deliberately left this till the last, since the all the above factors are also necessary in treating depression. Medication is needed for some especially if your depression is not responding to other measures, or so severe that you can’t even start thinking about the advice above. This is a huge topic though, so I will look at it in another post.