If you've googled how to beat depression, chances are you've come across some good suggestions - eat a healthy diet, exercise, manage your sleep well, keep routines, take omega 3's, manage stress etc. etc.
If you're experiencing low grade depression and functioning pretty well in daily life this is helpful advice.
For many people though, the extreme exhaustion that comes with depression can make completing even the smallest everyday tasks a struggle - so exercising and eating healthy can feel simply unattainable.
So if you're struggling with day to day life what steps can help you on your road to recovery? Well, here's my top 5 practical tips on what really helped me through depression to a happier and more balanced life. I hope they can help you too.
#1. Don't ignore depression
Without a proper diagnosis and treatment, clinical depression can last for weeks, months, or even years.
Did you know that undiagnosed depression is the leading cause of youth suicide? Whether you're a teen or adult if you've been feeling down for more than a few weeks, it's important to act now. You don't have to remain stuck feeling like this.
Appropriate treatment helps most people with depression feel better.
#2. See your GP
If you've been feeling low or sad for more than a few weeks and you're wondering if you have depression, make an appointment with your GP. Your GP can test you for depression.
It takes courage to reach out and seek help. And it's an empowering step on your journey back to feeling good again. Remember there's no shame in experiencing depression, it affects so many of us. GP's are experienced in helping people with depression and will be able to answer any questions you may have.
Your GP may recommend an anti depressant. Consider whether this is the right option for you. Anti depressants can be very helpful in lifting mood and easing depression - but they're no silver bullet. If you decide to try out an antidepressant, be aware that it may take a number of visits to your GP to find the right anti depressant and the right dose for you.
No Silver bullet
For me, I found anti depressants helpful, but not a cure all. They eased my anxiety and lifted my mood somewhat. I was able to function better and get stuff done. I found I was still ruminating on things, beating myself up and feeling worthless. I realised I still needed more help if I wanted to feel happy again.
#3. Try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Seriously.
When I came across CBT a lightbulb went on in my brain. It was the missing piece of the puzzle I had been looking for on my journey to recovering from depression. CBT helped me break free of the negative thinking that was keeping me down. It taught me how to think in more healthy, balanced ways, stopping those negative downward spirals. As I applied CBT in my life I started feeling happier and more confident.
CBT is a drug free, proven approach to treating depression and anxiety which is why I love it.
Personally, I think we can all benefit from learning CBT tools, but it's especially helpful if you're experiencing anxiety or depression.
The good news is that even though things may feel really bad right now, and you can't imagine things getting better - most people feel better as they start to recover. And happiness and enjoyment of life can come back too :).
#4. Talk about it
One of the most important things you can do when you're feeling depressed is to open up about how you're feeling. Talk to someone supportive - a good friend, family member or a Counsellor who can support you in your recovery.
It takes courage to open up, but it's a really important step in your recovery.
If you're worried about being a burden on others, let that go. If someone you care about was feeling down I bet you'd be there for them. So give them the same chance to be there for you too. That's what real friends are for.
#5. Start socialising again
If you've been a bit of a recluse, it's hard to get out and start socialising again, especially when you're not feeling chipper. Giving yourself that push though can really speed up your recovery.
Don't expect to enjoy socialising straight away, but in a short period of time you might notice a boost in your well-being and lessening of symptoms of depression.
Reconnecting with friends was a HUGE part of my journey back to feeling happier and it can be for you too. If you can have regular catch
ups with friends that's even better.
#6. Be creative
Mounting evidence shows that creativity helps ease depression.
Expressing yourself could be as easy as colouring in an adult colouring in book, dot painting some stones, doing a DIY project, baking your favorite sweet treats, building something from scratch, joining a knitting circle or planting a new bed in the garden - to name just a few options.
Creative activities are so helpful because they focus your attention on the activity you're working on, right in this moment allowing worries and rumination to subside.
If you don't consider yourself to be an artsy person - don't worry.
Give yourself permission to practice being creative without any expectations, and just notice if you start to feel calmer and more relaxed as you ease into it.
#7. Make a positive difference in someone's life
Helping others boosts your own self esteem and confidence. It helps you get out of your head and into doing something meaningful for others.
Is there a cause you'd like to contribute to? Would you like to gain some new skills?
Google "volunteering" in your local area and you'll come up with lots of interesting opportunities that you can volunteer for - whether it's helping people, volunteering with animals, the aged, youth support, the environment etc.
If you're currently out of work, volunteering can grow your confidence, skills and offer a gentle reintroduction back into the workforce.
These are the big 7 things that made a real difference in my recovery. I'd love you to share this article with friends and loved ones. Anyone who may be experiencing depression and looking for some relief.
I'd also love to hear from you on what's helped you on your journey of recovery from depression. You can message me or PM me on Facebook. I believe that talking about depression and opening up about our personal experiences helps normalise depression and lets people who are suffering know they're not alone.
If you have any questions about this article or you'd like some support please get in touch email@example.com