Depression is a condition which often leaves the sufferer feeling helpless, confused and at the mercy of others. This does not have to be the case as there are many things which a sufferer can do for themselves to take back control and ease the symptoms which can feel overwhelming.
Some recommended strategies are:
- Communication – opening up about how you are feeling
- Joining activities, forums and groups with fellow sufferers
- Don’t be hard on yourself
- Education – knowledge of your condition can be a powerful tool
- Exercise is a well tested strategy to combat symptoms
- Alternative medicine such as St John’s Wort
When suffering from depression it is common for the people around us to have noticed that something is wrong. By putting on a brave front and blocking them out we are building up a bigger problem in the long run. Many depression sufferers feel that they do not want to ‘burden’ their loved ones with what is happening to them. Many sufferers also feel a sense of shame and lack of self-esteem.
Bottling up these feelings make them worse and the people around feel shut out and confused. Remember that depression is an illness just like any physical illness – there is no shame or self-blame. By talking to others we can include them and make them feel important in the recovery process.
If you do not feel able to talk to family or friends then the support of a counsellor offers much relief. Just being able to open up about our feelings can feel like a weight has been lifted.
Joining forums, groups and activities
Don’t feel isolated. There are many forums and groups online, have a browse and find a group that you feel comfortable with where you can chat with other sufferers and share your experiences.
There may be self help groups in your area. You can find out what is available by visiting www.depressionalliance.org/how-we-can-help/self-help-groups.php or try inquiring at your GP surgery.
Being part of a group provides the opportunity to discuss your problems with others and relieves the feelings of isolation. Just feeling that you are understood can lift your mood and make you feel better. Groups also often have speakers who provide useful information on how to walk the path to recovery.
For some people great comfort can be found through the support of their local religious community.
Don’t be hard on yourself
Try to consider yourself in the same way as you would consider a loved one. If someone we loved was suffering from poor health we would want to help them in any and every way we could. Try to apply this to yourself. Being kind to yourself has many benefits to the symptoms of depression.
One thing to avoid at all costs is being self-critical. Depression is not a sign of weakness, it is not your fault that you are suffering. By showing concern and care it is possible to lift the mood and ease symptoms. Be acceptant of the fact that you are where you are today and that you are having a rough time.
Knowledge is a powerful tool to aid you on your path to recovery. There are many CDs and books that help with this progress. Most libraries have a section dedicated to self-help and some NHS services operate a ‘Book Prescription Scheme’ which enables you to borrow literature at no charge. Depression can be scary but through knowledge we can break the chain of fear.
Very often depression comes hand in hand with feelings of anxiety. Learning how to relax can bring great benefit. There is a wealth of material available to help you to rediscover the joy of feeling stress free, CDs and books are a great way to start. Listening to music is also very therapeutic and relaxing.
A simple tip which can help is to check the position of your shoulders. When we are stressed we tend to hunch our shoulders up round our ears and simply by letting them fall and by pushing them gently back we can improve our breathing and relax our muscles.
Exercise is a well tested method of reducing the symptoms of depression. This doesn't mean that you have to rush out and join the local gym. Walking is a great depression buster and you can tailor it to your own pace and duration.
You can find out more about the the benefits of exercise by clicking on the 'fitness' section which is located under the 'lifestyle' tab on our navigation bar. Here you will also find suggestions for which form of exercise will be the best for you.
Many people who are suffering from depression find relief in natural remedies such as St. John's Wort. Whilst this type of medication can be very useful it is always advisable to consult your GP before you take it. Whether or not you are taking other conventional medication there could be reasons why this type of natural remedy may not be suitable for you.
Please see the guides below for more on how to help yourself, and other resources you may find helpful.