There are plenty of things to do if you’re feeling depressed. It’s important to remember that, because feeling helpless and demotivated is a common symptom of depression! Thousands of people are affected by depression each day, and it affects people of all ages and genders. If you’re suffering from depression, you might have side effects such as being unable to sleep or sleeping too much, losing or gaining weight, feeling isolated and lonely, feeling lethargic or feeling angry. You might even find that things that used to interest you now seem boring. It’s not impossible to fight depression, though, and you don’t just have to deal with it. Here are some things to do if you’re feeling depressed.
One of the first things to do if you’re feeling depressed is to accept how you are feeling, and believe that it is normal. There is an outdated and unfortunate stigma surrounding mental health, and many people don’t admit to struggling with it. It’s fine if you don’t want to tell people, but remember that thousands of people feel like you do, every single day. Statistically, you’re likely to know a fair few people who know exactly what you are going through. Feeling depressed doesn’t make you ungrateful, weird, or a failure. It’s not something to be ashamed of.
Next, find someone whom you can open up to. This will be different depending on whom you feel closest to. Your parents are likely to want to support you, and being looked after for a while could help your depression, so consider telling them how you feel. Friends or siblings could also be good listeners. Don’t worry if you’re not sure what to say, either. You could pass the message on in person, through text, on the phone or in an email or voicemail – you just need to tell them how you feel and ask for support. You’ll feel much better once you’ve started to build a support system.
You might feel like spending the day in bed, or mindlessly floating around the house, or watching rubbish on TV. Depression tends to drain your excitement and make you feel like doing nothing at all. Fight back! Start easily – write down a bullet point or two that you can achieve today. Reading a book, going for a walk, having a shower. Tomorrow, do it again. As you manage to do more, build on it – make going for a walk or having a shower an everyday bullet point, and start having three or four targets. Convince yourself to do things because if you don’t, you could sink into a further depression because of your withdrawal.
I tend to suffer from both sides of the sleep spectrum…sometimes I find it impossible to sleep, and other times I’ll want to sleep all day and all night, and minimize awake hours as much as possible. Whichever way your depression leans, you have to get strict. Monitor your sleep schedule and set targets. If you sleep too much, set alarms and make yourself get up when they go off. Stop yourself from napping and if necessary, keep yourself awake by keeping rooms bright and not too hot! If you’re sleeping too little, try starting a bedtime routine – a bath or shower, reading and sleeping. If that doesn’t help you wind down and set a regular bedtime, speak to your doctor.
When you’re depressed, you really don’t need any additional drama. Do everything you can to avoid people who are likely to bring their own dramas into your life and cut out any toxic people, even if it’s just until you’ve recovered. Make an effort to avoid people who either ignore your depression or encourage it. You don’t need people like that in your life right now, and keeping them in it will just make your struggle more difficult.
If you’re still not feeling any improvement, it’s time to seek some professional help. The first step could be your doctor, who will run through some questions with you and help you to understand how you feel. You may then be offered a variety of treatments, from medication that will help you to sleep to antidepressants or therapy. You might even get a combination of all three. Don’t leave the doctor's office until you’re happy with the prescribed treatment and you have a follow-up appointment in a week or two.
Physical exercise releases hormones that will help to lift your depression. The only problem is getting started when your brain doesn’t want to do anything at all. As well as releasing endorphins, you’ll burn stress and feel strong. Find an exercise that you can realistically do most days. It could be a quick walk, pounding out a run, going boxing, doing an exercise DVD, using a stair master or doing a more relaxed exercise such as yoga. You could even play netball or active table tennis. Anything that gets you moving.
One of the most important things to do when you’re feeling depressed is to be patient with yourself and remember that this will pass. It might take time or it might pass quickly, but it will go. This isn’t forever. Give yourself time and be kind to yourself. You wouldn’t expect a friend or sister to make themselves better quickly, you’d support them for as long as it takes, so do the same for yourself.
I was once sent a list of things to do when you’re feeling depressed, compiled from the diaries of hundreds of depressed people. One of my favorites was to keep a mood diary, so you can spot any particular triggers that make you feel worse or any habits that make you feel better, and you can see your gradual improvement. Do you know any important things to do when you’re feeling depressed? I’d love to know.
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