What is depression?
Nearly all day, every day
- Depressed mood
- Lack of interest/pleasure
- Weight gain/loss without dieting
- Loss of appetite
- Very restless/drop in physical activity
- Fatigue/loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness/inappropriate guilt
- Difficulty thinking/concentrating/making decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death/suicidal thoughts/plans/attempts
How common is depression?
- Between 10 and 15% of people will experience at least one episode of major depression in their lifetimes.
- Stigma and shame associated with depression is changing and more and more people talk about it.
- Important things to keep in mind
- People who experience these symptoms do get well
- There are many things you can do to help yourself
- It is not your fault you have these symptoms
- People live with these symptoms, move on in their lives and do the things they want to do.
- Medication may be helpful now. Nobody knows the future.
- You should not have to put up with side effects from medication.
Things to do if you are depressed
- Keep remembering that there is hope
- Take charge and take responsibility
- Educate yourself about depression
- Ensure you get what you want, need and deserve
Possible causes of depression and things you can do to alleviate it
Genetic, biological, environmental
- Exercise: develop a routine/habit
- Diet: three balanced meals a day, plenty of water, high in complex carbs, cut sugar, processed carbs, caffeine, alcohol, be aware of possible allergies
- Make sure you get enough time outside in natural sunlight (glasses off if you wear them)
- Sleep routine: make sure the latest time you go to bed is 10pm
- Creative activities: do art/pottery
Focus on negative emotions, negative thoughts
- Notice sensations in your body without any judgement of them
- Notice when you start to judge sensations as good or bad
- Notice your mood and emotions and chart these*
- Notice your negative thoughts and change them*
- Write in a journal
- Relax in natural settings
- Spend time quietly in prayer, contemplation or meditation
Lack of meaningful spaces to share your experiences – feeling your family and friends don’t understand you:
- Find a counselor/support group that does understand you to share with
Not feeling you have valued functions in family system/school system/community system – playing negative functions in the family/school/community (e.g. the difficult child/the failure/the disorganized one etc.)
- Find opportunies (perhaps through voluntary work, the church, the school) to function in valued roles
Noticing early warning signals
- Charting your emotions, writing journals etc. should help you to start noticing warning signals
- Take action early
- Exercise, diet, time outdoors, relaxation
- Take a positive attitude: Change negative thoughts, wait it out, stay active, recall good times, focus on living one day at a time, make and stick to simple plans and schedules, seek help, focus on spirituality
- Seek support, build a strong support network of family, friends, support groups, health care professionals that you can talk to
- Do something to feel valued
* Charting emotions and moods: make a schedule of the different times during the day, note what has happened, what you are doing and the accompanying emotions – this will help you to find triggers
- Hopelessness and depression: depression ends, life is worth living
- Desperation: no matter what the problems or how hard they seem to deal with, there is always a way out that is better than death
- Loneliness: your friends and family do love you, even if it doesn’t feel like it, join a support group
- Bad memories: you may need help dealing with bad memories
- Psychosis: seek help if you hear voices telling you to do something
- Low self-esteem: if you feel a failure, are obsessed with memories of past failures, feelings of inadequacy, take an honest look at yourself, list your accomplishments, people you have ever helped/befriended/been kind to. Make it a habit of noticing the good things about yourself!
- Guilt: guilt about things you have done may be hard to deal with but you can pick up the pieces
- Seasonal triggers: if family times like Christmas trigger a bad response, make sure you spend time with people you enjoy being with
- Fatigue: eat foods high in complex carbohydrates, take a break, get exercise