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How to get free help with depression

1) Know about your condition - what you know about your depression has been shown to have an effect on well you respond to treatment. Take the Depression Learning Path - it's the best way to start helping yourself.

2) Cut down on rumination

Do whatever you can to decrease the amount of rumination you are doing. (Ruminating is 'chewing over' emotional issues in your mind without coming to any decision to act.)

If possible, decide to put off difficult decisions for 1 or 2 weeks while you get your energy back.

Ways to cut down rumination are to:

a) Stop yourself when you spot yourself doing 'all or nothing' thinking. (See thinking styles)
b) Read novels when you have nothing to do, to occupy your mind. (Make them exciting novels, not romance or self help books!)
c) Do exercise (see 5)
d) Work if you can
e) Keep yourself occupied as much as possible in ways that stop you thinking too much!

3) Find ways to assess and monitor your depressive episodes

The way depression makes us adopt all or nothing thinking is a unique and crucial part of understanding depression. The way depression makes us generate seemingly hopeless outcomes to our situation can make it almost impossible to see a way out of it.

Finding ways to gauge your depression can help to show the shades of gray, that will ultimately defeat the black and white thinking on which depression thrives. This is often done in the form of a diary, where you grade how bad your days have been on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is the worst and 10 is the best. Then, after 2 weeks or so, you can look back and see how things have varied over that time.

4) Lower your emotional arousal levels calming down emotions such as anxiety and anger helps your brain function more subtly and decreases the amount of catastrophising you do. Along with getting proper rest, being able to relax is incredibly important.

Relaxation therapies are effective in overcoming some of the other issues that can co-occur with depression. The effects of panic attacks, anxiety and anger, etc can be lessened and overcome with the ability to relax properly and deeply. Physical disciplines such as Tai Chi, which occupy the mind whilst performing gentle, relaxing exercise can be useful, as can relaxation training such as guided imagery or self hypnosis.

5) Get exercise if you can

If you can increase the amount of physical exercise you get, it can be a great self help for depression. The results of the physical exertion will lift your depression temporarily at least, in addition to the other benefits of exercise. (As always, consult your medical practitioner before starting any strenuous exercise regime.)

6) Do What You Enjoy

Do what you used to enjoy doing, even if you don't particularly feel like it. Even complete small tasks within the home if you don't feel like meeting other people. Seemingly mundane tasks, if they have an end result, can result in a feeling of satisfaction, and actually increase your serotonin levels!

7) Maintain a regular sleep pattern

Do not lie in if you feel exhausted in the morning. All that happens is that you dream a large amount if you sleep through the morning, because your REM periods get longer the longer you have been asleep. Set a time to get up every morning, and get up. Try to spend 8-9 hours in bed, and get up regardless.

8) IMPORTANT! Check that you are meeting your basic emotional needs.

More in self help for depression.


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