Much has been said and written on the subject of depression. In recent weeks we have been reminded of the very human cost of depression with the death of Robin Williams. Depression is one of the biggest killers of men aged 20-49 in the UK according to C.A.L.M. (Campaign Against Living Miserably). Mental illness can affect anyone and it gets into all corners of our lives.
What is depression?
Depression is often mistaken for sadness by society. While sufferers undoubtedly experience a low-mood, depression is much more the questioning of the self-worth, a drop in self-esteem, feelings of guilt and of worthlessness and a sense that nothing can be done about it …ever.
There are many signs and symptoms of depression and it is not for this article to diagnose, but rather for the reader to note that the nature of the condition is to make us feel worthless, make us feel that we don’t deserve better or that it is pointless trying to improve things. That is the insidious nature of the illness.
Depression can almost always be helped. Your GP will discuss the best treatment plan for you. Talking therapies are one of the common treatments used to tackle it. Tacking depression can seem hard. It drains your energy and hope, making it harder to take action but take small steps at first. Soon you will find that you are moving towards recovery.
Accepting the help that you have around you is a good starting place. Try to avoid isolating yourself from friends and family. The condition can make us want to shut ourselves away. The result is there is less opportunity to value the positive parts of your life and to talk through the problems that you face. Often just talking about a problem can make it seem more manageable.
Part of being listless and having less energy is that we take less care of ourselves. There is a growing body of evidence showing that a well-balanced diet is as good for our mental health as it is for our physical health. Try swapping out biscuits and cakes for fruit snacks. You could eat smaller more frequent meals throughout the day. Getting out and taking some exercise, something simple like a walk or a swim can make a difference. Indeed many studies have shown that exercise in some cases is very effective in treating mild depression?
Learn to challenge the negative thought processes. You challenge your subconscious to prove the negative assertion. What are the facts? Remember feelings or what you think others believe are not facts. Now in the light of that process re-examine your thought. Is there a more compassionate, more realistic thought? We tend to judge ourselves harshly, more harshly than others, so offer yourself compassion while you are feeling ill.
What is my next step?
There is lots of help. Getting support is a key part of your recovery. Your GP is a good starting point. You may want to talk things over with a friend or a family member. You may want to try out some of the advice and techniques you have read about. Perhaps you want to see a counsellor and get help that way. There is help and by offering yourself the opportunity to take small steps you can get on the road to recovery from depression.