While, if you’re struggling with depression, you should certainly make seeing your GP a priority because a combination of medication and therapy has shown to be the most effective treatment for depression, there are a number of things you can also do for yourself to help you recover faster.
Here are some simple DIY ways to diminish your depression that you might want to try:
Take Some Time Off
Work can be stressful at the best of times, but when you’re depressed, it can be torture. So, if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask time off, it could make all the difference, especially if work is a contributing factor to your depression.
If you’re worried about the money side of things, remember you should be entitled to sick pay, and take a look at this statutory sick pay guide to put your mind at ease. Getting your depression under control should be your first consideration, and it may be harder to do that when you’re working.
Believe me, I know it’s the last thing you feel like doing when you’re suffering from clinical depression and just getting out of bed in the morning is a cause for celebration sometimes. However, on your better days, when you’re able to get up and about, doing a little exercise, even if it’s only walking around the block, will do you the world of good. It’ll get your endorphins pumping, and if you exercise in nature, it will sooth your stress too.
A Little Ray of Light
If you get depressed in the winter months when the days are short and the nights are long, it could be that the lack of sunlight and the lack of vitamin D that it results in could be causing your depression. If that’s likely, investing in a light therapy box and sitting in front of it for 15-20 minutes each morning might help to diminish your depression.
Keep a Mood Diary
Keeping a mood diary is another one of those things, like exercise, that you scoff at when it’s suggested to you, but which really can make a big difference and ease your depression more quickly than medication and therapy alone.
To keep a mood diary, all you have to do is keep track of your positive moods, writing down as many positives as you can find. You might also want to write down negative thoughts and issues and then look at ways of reframing them so that they aren’t quite as troubling to you. If this sound like something that could be helpful to you, you might want to look into CBT. You can also find mood diary apps online and via your smartphone.
There is some controversy surrounding acupuncture and whether it’s effective for treating anything, let alone depression, but there is one study from the University of Arizona that seems to suggest that acupuncture can lead to remission in depression symptoms 64 percent of the time, in women at least. This was a small study, but you have nothing to lose and if nothing else I can guarantee you’ll come out of your session feeling a lot more relaxed, which is great for depression in itself.
Join a Support Group
Again, please don’t throw anything at me! I understand the idea of spending an hour every week in a room with other depression sufferers spilling your guts sounds like a nightmare right here on earth to a lot of people, but going to a support group – check out this support group guide for more info- is actually a really good way to get support from people who really do know what you’re going to. The social aspects of support groups are great for depression sufferers who often tend to isolate too.
Omega-3 oils, which are most commonly found in fish oils, but which veggies can get from flax and algae supplements, may be able to prevent mood swings and low moods. If you add them to your diet, it may give you the boost that you need to take on your depression with gusto, but you may have to wait a week or two before you start feeling the effects.
There is a lot of promising research around meditation, specifically mindfulness, and its ability to help people suffering from depression. A technique called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has helped countless people to tackle their negative thought patterns, stop ruminating and reach somewhere approaching equilibrium AND it has been shown to be as successful as antidepressants in some studies at least.
I didn’t include this with exercise because, although yoga is certainly a good way to keep fit, that doesn’t have to be the main focus of this ancient technique. In fact, yoga’s combination of long slow stretches and calming breathing techniques are perfect for relieving stress, getting more in tune with yourself, sleeping better at night and, yes, managing your depression more effectively, according to many people who have tried it.
Arts and Crafts
When you’re depressed, as you will probably know, you can be prone to rumination. You can spend hours and hours thinking about that stupid thing you did five years ago, or telling yourself that you’re worthless. It’s a symptom of the illness and something that can cause your efforts to get better fail.
One thing that is pretty effective at taking your mind off the constant barrage of negative thoughts your brain is subjecting to you is arts and crafts. Things that require a little focus, like crocheting and painting, which also give you something physical to do provide a great distraction which will give you the space you need to start getting well.
St. John’s Wort
If you’re the kind of person who only ever takes prescribed medication as a last resort, try St John’s Wort. It’s a natural supplement that is actually prescribed for depression in Germany, and which has been found to benefit sufferers of mild depression without any nasty side effects.
If you’re interested in taking St John’s Wort, you should always see your doctor first because, although it’s pretty safe, it can react with other medications.
Fighting your way out of depression is rarely easy, but if you see your doctor, take their advice and try out some of the DIY suggestions above, you may find that your depression starts to diminish faster than you thought it would, or could.