It’s the catch 22 of depression recovery: The things that help the most are the things that are the most difficult to do.
Compiled by: Phillipa Morassi
However, there is a difference between something that’s difficult and something that’s impossible. The key to a depression recovery is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Take things one day at a time and reward yourself for each accomplishment. The steps may seem small, but they’ll quickly add up.
Symptoms must cause significant distress and they must last for atleast two weeks.
Depressed Mood – Sad, anxious, empty, hopeless etc.
Sleep difficulties – Lack of sleep/over sleeping
Loss of interest or pleasure in life
Significant weight change – weight loss or weight gain
Fatigue nearly everyday
Feelings of worthlessness
recurring thoughts of death
Psychotherapy and medication (A combination of psychotherapy and medication has been found to be the most effective treatment for depression)
Psychotherapy – cognitive behavioural therapy
– Works in changing self-defeating thoughts and behaviours
– Has been found to be equally, if not more effective than medicine in many cases.
– Most researched form of psychotherapy for depression
Medication – Selective serotonin (a chemical related to depression) reuptake inhibition.
– Increase the level of serotonin in the brain.
– Studies suggest that SSRI (any of a group of antidepressant drugs) are the most effective when used to treat severe depression.
– SSRI doesn’t work overnight – it might take up to six weeks before they reach the full effect
– Over ½ of those diagnosed with depression also suffer from anxiety
– 60% of those who commit suicide suffer from depression or a related mood disorder.
– Physical exercise has been found to have a significant antidepressant effect.
– Depressive episodes also occur during bipolar disorder alongside manic episodes.
Self-help tip number 1: Cultivate supportive relationships
– Turn to trusted friends and family members.
– Try to keep up with social activities even if you don’t feel like it.
– Join a support group for depression
10 tips for reaching out and building relationships:
– Talk to one person about your feelings.
– Help someone else.
– Have lunch or coffee with a friend.
– Ask a loved one to check in on you regularly.
– Accompany someone to a movie, concert, or a small get-together etc.
– Call or text a friend.
– Go for a workout with a buddy.
– Schedule weekly dinner/lunch date.
– Meet new people by joining a cultural club or by talking a new class.
– Confide in a counsellor, therapist, or clergy member (the body of all people ordained for religious duties).
Depression self-help tip 2: Challenge negative thinking
– Think outside yourself.
– Allow yourself to be less than perfect.
– Keep a positive log.
Depression self-help tip 3 – Take care of yourself
– Aim for eight hours of sleep.
– Expose yourself to a little sunshine, everyday.
– Keep stress in check.
– Practical relaxation techniques (e.g breathing exercise, music etc.)
– Care for a pet.
– Do the things you enjoy (or used to enjoy).
– Develop a wellness toolbox.
Examples of relaxation techniques:
– Spend time in nature.
– List what you like about yourself.
– Read a good book.
– Watch a funny movie or TV show.
– Take a long hot bath or shower.
– Take care of few small tasks.
– Play with a pet.
– Talk to friends or family (face to face) – stay away from negative people or people who are overly positive.
– Listen to music (relaxing or uplifting music).
– Do something spontaneous.
Depression self-help tip 4: Get regular exercise
– Take the stirs rather than the elevator.
– Leave the car and walk to the convenience store.
– Go for a walk or take your dog for a walk.
– Pair up with a gym partner.
– Join a sports club (eg. Running club)
Depression self-help tip 5: Eat a healthy, mood boosting diet
– Don’t skip meals.
– Mininmize sugar and refined carbs.
– Focus on complex carbohydrates (found in foods such as peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables.)
– Boost your vitamin B (eg. Vitamin B complex supplement)
To seek professional help contact SADAG (The South African Group and Anxiety) on: 0800 567 567
24hr Helpline: 0800 12 13 14
SMS 31393 (and they will call you back)