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Coping with Depression
Depression is all round us.However,many of us fail to recognise depression in ourselves or a loved ones because the mental illness often is disguised as a physical symptom or a seemingly minor change of mood or energy.
Depression can manifest itself in different ways in different people.A sad mood is the most common manifestation of depression,but there are some other signs in other people.
To be accurately diagonised with depression ,you need a constellation of at least five symptoms which have lasted at least two weeks.
These symtoms can include:
- Being sad
- sleeping too much or too little
- Withdrawal from pleasurable activities
- Anger or irritability
- Physical symptoms like a stomachache or headache
Depression can happen to any one ,at any age,of any race or ethnic group.It can be triggered by chemical imbalances in the brain,hormonal changes,medications or things going on in your life.
If you think you may be depressed,discuss your conerns with your physician who may suggest professional counselling or prescribe antidepressant medications.The good news is that depression is a highly treatable illness.No matter what your depression sympoms or if you are taking medications and/or undergoing psychotherapy,there are things you can do to help you cope with depression,speed recovery and help prevent depression from returning.
Don't wait too long to get evaluated or treated.There is research showing the longer one waits,the greater the impairment can be down the road.Try to see a professional as soon as possible.
Stick to your treatment plan.Attend every psychotherapy appointment,even if you don't feel like going.Take your medications even if you don't think they are helping you.Talk to your doctor before stopping or skipping medications because you may experience withdrawal-like symptoms if you stop suddenly.
Set up a routine.Depression can deplete motivation for even the most mundane tasks.
Break up your day into hourly schedules.Try and create managable chores which can be accomplished.These can be simple things like walking the dog,going to the grocery store or cleaning out a cupboard.
Get some excercise.Physical activity helpsreduce depression symptoms.When you are depressed,exercising may be the last thing you feel like doing.But studies show that regular execise can be as effective as antidepressant medication at increasing energy levels and decreasing feelings of fatigue.
Research suggests that physical activity triggers new cell growth in the brain,increases mood-enhancing neurotransmitters and endorphins ,reduces stress nad relieves muscle tension-all things that can have positive effect on depression.
Consider walking,jogging,swimming,gardening or taking up any other activity you enjoy.To gain the most benefits,aim for atleast 30 minutes of exercise per day.It is ok to start small,since even short 10-minute bursts of activity can have a positive effect on your mood.
Get some sunlightExpose yourself to a little sunlight every day.Lack of sunlight can make depression worse.Take a short walk outdoors,have your coffee outside,enjoy an al fresco meal or people-watch on a park bench.
Avoid alcohol and illegal drugsIt may seem like alcohol or drugs lesson depression symptoms,but in the long run they generally worsen symptoms and make depression harder to treat.
Get plenty of sleepSleeping well is important for both your physical and mental well-being.If you're having trouble sleeping,talk to your doctor about what you can do.
Eat a healthy,nutritious diet. What you eat has a direct impact on the way you feel.Aim for a balanced diet of protein,complex carbohydrates,fruits and vegetables
Don't skip meals.Going too long between meals can make you feel irritable and tired,so aim to eat something at least every three to four hours.Minimize sugar and refined carbs.You may crave sugary snacks,baked goods or comfort foods such as pasta or french fries.But these "feel good" foods quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy.
Keep stress in checkNot only does stress prolong and worsen depression, but it can also trigger it.Figure out all the things in your life that stress you out such as workoverload,unsupportive relationships or health problems.Once you have identified your stressors,you can make a plan to minimize their impact.
Write it downFinding words to describe your depression is another way to take your life back.
Express yourself creatively.Let your creative juice flow through music, art,writing or cooking.