Mind Your Mental Health: Depression is an illness you can beat
PUBLISHED: 19:00 15 January 2016
Depression is very common and almost half of adults experience at least one episode at some point in their lifetime.
There are no instant solutions to stop depressive feelings but these tips can help.
Break the cycle of negativity: It can be easy to get into a cycle of negative thoughts that become difficult for you to challenge. Make a conscious effort to break the hold that depression has on you. Deciding to do something to help yourself is the most important step you can take.
Keep active: Regular exercise can be very effective in lifting your mood and increasing your energy levels. It is also likely to improve your appetite and sleep. Physical activity stimulates chemicals in the brain called endorphins, which can help you to feel better.
Connect with other people: Although you may not feel like it keeping in touch with people can help you feel a bit more grounded and sometimes get things more in perspective. Try a short phone call to a close friend or relative, or if you can’t manage it, just an email or text message.
Care for yourself: Allow yourself positive experiences and treats. Pay attention to your personal appearance. Set goals that you can achieve and that will give you a sense of satisfaction. Eat healthily – oily fish has been linked with helping depression. Be cautious with tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, which can make depression worse.
In its mildest form depression causes lowered mood, which wouldn’t stop someone leading a normal life but can make everything seem much harder and less worthwhile.
In its severest form depression can be life-threatening and may make a person feel suicidal.
Sufferers can feel down for long periods of time. It can also lead to other issues such as anxiety, low self-esteem and panic disorders.
Vanessa Bennett, chief executive of Havering Mind, said: “We often use the expression ‘I feel depressed’ when we’re feeling sad or miserable about life. Usually, these feelings pass in due course.
“But, if the feelings are interfering with your life and don’t go away after a couple of weeks, or if they come back, over and over again, for a few days at a time, it could be a sign that you’re depressed in the medical sense of the term.
“Depression is a real illness with real symptoms and it’s not a sign of weakness, or something you can snap out of by pulling yourself together.
“The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people can make a full recovery.
“The most important thing you can do if you think you are feeling depressed is talk to someone.
“People can help, so don’t suffer on your own. It’s important to seek help early, so you can get on the way to recovery.”