One of the most misunderstood and difficult mental illnesses for anyone to suffer from, has to be depression. The road often seems very long and very dark and quite difficult to face when we are considering our recovery. Follow our top 10 tips to help you to learn to cope better and find a happier inner you.
1. Admit it
Admitting to yourself that you have a problem with depression is one of the hardest steps to take, but is definitely the turning point from being depressed to recovering. We all deal with situations and problems differently, and it is quite common to try to “brush it off” as feeling a bit low. If you KNOW you have depression, talk about it. Hiding it will make it much worse in the long run. Remember, you are ill – and that isn’t your fault.
2. Be open about it
For those living with depression, trying to hide your feelings can become almost second nature. Your friends and family will no doubt know there is something wrong long before you do, by the noticeable change in your mood swings and attitude. Be open with them, talk to them and tell them truthfully how you are feeling. Don’t be ashamed of being unwell, even if you sometimes think your behaviour is a little challenging. If they care about you and love you, they will understand that it is most definitely NOT your fault that you are ill. And the support you will receive will be a huge help when you are trying to recover.
3. Avoid Isolation
It is very tempting when in the throes of depression, to isolate yourself from others. At all costs, try to avoid this. Even though it’s probably the last thing you feel like doing, saying yes to someone you wants to spend time with you is the best way to avoid those darkest episodes. Being in and around the company of others can help to give you a clear head and more a positive outlook on your problems, even if you don’t actually discuss them.
4. Listen to yourself
Many people with depression actually feel guilty or embarrassed if one day they find themselves having a little fun. Go with what you are feeling. With depression there are good days and bad days. By making as many days as you can “good days”, you will undoubtedly find that your “dark days” become fewer and fewer.
5. Stick to your treatment
Once you have agreed a treatment plan, stick to it. You may be having therapy or be prescribed antidepressants, or it could be a combination of both. As soon as you find something that works for you, stick to it as much as possible. Only by doing so will give you the tools you need to get yourself back on a more positive road.
6. Get healthy
One of the most natural and positive ways to help in your recovery is to take gentle exercise daily. Clean up your diet and ensure you are eating healthy too. Failure to do either of these could quite possibly end up with unwanted weight gain which in turn will feed your depression. There is a lot of truth in the saying “healthy body – healthy mind”.
7. Reduce your stress
Stress can be a huge factor in keeping a depressed person in a dark frame of mind. Keeping yourself as relaxed as you can is extremely important for a positive recovery. If you are feeling stressed, get yourself out of the situation and do something relaxing to calm you down. Take up Yoga (or buy a home Dvd), go swimming, walk your or your neighbour’s dog, run yourself a warm bubble bath, or simply pick up the phone and talk to a friend who makes you laugh. The less stress you have to deal with, the faster your recovery will be.
8. Find that one thing that you enjoy doing
Unless you are suffering with severe clinical depression, you will still be able to find some fun in a few of the things you used to enjoy. Find whatever it is that makes you happy, and do it – a lot. When we are happy, we release natural endorphins from our brains into our bodies. These are our natural happy drugs and will really lift your mood.
9. Cut out alcohol
Ideally, you should be cutting out alcohol completely when you are trying to recover from depression. Alcohol is a mood stimulant on its own, which really isn’t something you need adding to your already depressed frame of mind. You may also be taking antidepressants, and to drink alcohol with them could cause seriously unwanted complications and will absolutely greatly affect the way the medication works for you.
10. Take your time
Depression can be a serious illness though often greatly misunderstood. There is no fast way to recover. It could possibly take some considerable time before you are feeling better, but you must allow yourself this time without blaming yourself, if you feel your recovery is taking longer than it should be. Stick to your treatment plan, give yourself lots of positive reinforcement and be open and honest to those around you about how you are feeling. Talking is one of the best therapies for Depression that there is – especially when there’s laughing involved!