"It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness."
Whilst exploring ways to recover from depression it becomes evident that there is a fair dose of paradox in the suggestions of how to assist recovery and the actual symptoms of depression. Recovery from depression requires the mobilisation of our life force that is stuck in the depressed state. Unfortunately that is where the paradox lies because depression, as anybody knows who has had depression or is experiencing depression, finding motivation to do anything ranges from hard to extremely hard.
Even though it may be hard it’s not beyond the realms of possibility to take steps, according to one’s capacity, along the path of recovery from depression. Here are some useful ideas that may help this journey.
Feeling depressed can reduce the desire to stay connected to family and friends. The desire to withdraw and isolate is not an uncommon response to feeling depressed. However, keeping oneself isolated and alone can worsen the depressed feelings. We are social creatures so an important part of recovery from depression is to stay in touch with family and friends. Let people who you trust and feel safe with know that you are struggling with depression. Talking about your feelings with family and friends lets you know that you are not alone, especially if there is shame about what you are experiencing. It’s important to try to keep up with social activities as isolation exacerbates depression.
Reaching out to others via email, telephone, social media are ways to stay connected. Joining a group with a shared interest or volunteering are also ways to kindle feelings of worth and meaning.
If family and friends are not available then participating in a group with others who are also struggling with depression can be very helpful as again this can alleviate feelings of loneliness by knowing that others are struggling with the same difficulties. If this is not an option then seeking professional help from counsellors and therapists to receive positive relational contact concerning the challenges of depression.
It can be easy to neglect oneself when depression is syphoning off desire to do anything constructive. It’s the activity of doing the opposite of what one feels like doing that supports recovery from depression, so engaging in exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, doing relaxation exercises can provide natural anti-depressants.
Exercise: It’s well known that exercising improves mood due to the release of endorphins, the brains natural feel good chemical. Going for a walk each day or at least a few times a week can have positive benefits. As well doing a mild aerobic exercise like walking or swimming, taking a gentle yoga or tai chi class can also have a positive impact on depression.
Food: Eating well and avoiding comfort food such as processed food can affect the way we feel. Vitamin B deficiencies have been shown to impact on peoples mood particularly folic acid and B 12 which create depressed feelings. Taking a supplement or eating leafy greens, eggs, beans and chicken maintain vitamin B levels, so negating this possible contributor to feeling low.
Omega 3 fatty acids from fish, such as salmon, sardines and trout are a rich source of this vital nutrient. Omega 3 has been shown to provide a big improvement to one’s mood.
Sleep: Not getting enough sleep will impact on your mood and will no doubt make depression even more challenging. Lack of sleep increases irritability, fatigue and sadness. The recommended amount of sleep is 7-9 hours per night. A coping strategy to low energy and motivation is to increase caffeine use or other stimulants. However, this can impact on sleep patterns, so it’s recommended to cut down drinking coffee or soft drinks such as coke in the evenings to allow the body time to metabolise these chemicals.
These are just a few helpful tips as part of a wholelistic perspective on depression. More information will come in the next blog. If you find yourself not coping with your depression please call Lifeline, 13 11 14 for immediate help or contact one of our therapists for counselling support.
May this day find you well.
Counselling and Psychotherapy Team