Everyone feels down or low at some stage, but when these lows last for long periods and affect general functioning and behavior, the person may be suffering from a depressive disorder.
What is depression?
Depression is a medical illness of which there are several forms. Everyone feels down or low at point in life, but when the lows last for long periods and affect general functioning and behavior, the person may be suffering from a Depressive Disorder.
Depression, which must be distinguished from sadness or “the blues”, is a fairly common and legitimate medical illness.
Everyone feels down or low at some stage, but when these lows last for long periods and affect general functioning and behaviour, the person may be suffering from a depressive disorder.
Although depression is defined as a disorder of mood, it affects more than just one’s mood and includes symptoms affecting the body (e.g. low energy, sexual dysfunction), thoughts (difficulty concentrating, indecisiveness) and feelings (depression, irritability).
If you're feeling depressed, it can be helpful to try some coping strategies.
David Richards, professor of mental health services research at the University of Exeter in the UK, offers these self-help tips for dealing with depression.
1. Stay in touch
Don't withdraw from life. Socializing can improve your mood. Keeping in touch with friends and family means you have someone to talk to when you feel low.
2. Be more active
Take up some form of exercise. There's evidence that exercise can help lift your mood. If you haven't exercised for a while, start gently by walking for 20 minutes every day.
Read about exercise for depression.
3. Face your fears
Don't avoid the things you find difficult. When people feel low or anxious, they sometimes avoid talking to other people. Some people can lose their confidence about going out, driving or travelling.
If this starts to happen, facing up to these situations will help them become easier.
Reading Ten ways to fight your fears may help.
4. Don't drink too much alcohol
For some people, alcohol can become a problem. You may drink more than usual as a way of coping with or hiding your emotions, or just to fill time. But alcohol won't help you solve your problems and could also make you feel more depressed.
Read some tips on cutting down on alcohol.
5. Try to eat a healthy diet
Some people don't feel like eating when they're depressed and are at risk of becoming underweight. Others find comfort in food and can put on excess weight.
Antidepressants can also affect your appetite.
If you're concerned about weight loss, weight gain or how antidepressants are affecting your appetite, talk to your GP.
See tips on how to eat more healthily.
6. Have a routine
When people feel down, they can get into poor sleep patterns, staying up late and sleeping during the day. Try to get up at your normal time and stick to your routine as much as possible.
Not having a routine can affect your eating. Try to carry on cooking and eating regular meals.
7. Develop a faith that things will get better
Believing in God, reading the bible and praying will help you develop a positive mindset.
Seeking help for depression
Get help if you're still feeling down or depressed after a couple of weeks.
Treatments for depression include psychological therapies and antidepressants.
You can refer yourself for psychological therapies like counseling.
Find psychological therapy services in your area.
You can talk it through with your doctor first if you prefer. Your GP can also tell you about antidepressants.
If you start to feel that your life isn't worth living or about harming yourself, get help straight away.