Saturday, 29 September 2012

Are you feeling blue? Here's something that may help!

You think a rare percentage of people have to deal with but it’s actually something that 20% of people experience every year.

For something to go beyond the ‘blues’, to be classified as depression, it has to last for at least two weeks (Only! I was surprised as I thought it had to be longer!) and affects a person’s abilities to carry out their daily activities and to maintain personal relationships. The signs and symptoms will probably surprise you as something you have  probably experienced at least once in your life:
  • Unusually sad mood
  • Loss of enjoyment and interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Lack of energy and tiredness
  • Feeling worthless or guilty for no reason
  • Thinking about death a lot or suicide
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Moving more slowly or becoming agitated and unable to settle
  • Having difficulties sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of appetite or increase in appetite- Changes in eating habits can lead to weight loss or gain.

Having gone through a mental health course, I’ve been thinking about how to help recover from depression (together with seeking professional help: links below)
  1. When you are depressed, you have a filter in front of you that prevents you from seeing anything good. One thing you can do to start making a habit of seeing good things is by making a list everyday of the good things around you, things you are grateful for and slowly you will start to see the positive side of things. ‘I hate my job BUT I have the potential to be good at what I do, get a promotion and that is something I want from my life.’
  2. Try to appreciate the little things in life such as a beautiful day or when a person is nice to you by offering you their seat on the bus. It won’t be an immediate change but the small things do add up.
  3. Try reading a book or watching television, anything that makes you escape from your own reality and immerse yourself into the troubles and mysteries of another for awhile, but be careful not to overdo this one.
  4. The worst thing to do is to sit around on the couch, doing nothing, wallowing in self-pity, refusing invitations from friends and family because that just amplifies the feelings of loneliness to the point of no return. If your friends don’t know or aren’t asking, make the effort to ask them. Tell people how you are feeling and it will feel like a weight off your shoulders.
  5. Go out of the house, find something to do. Volunteer, get a job, make new friends…never miss a day of school or work, no matter how horrible you feel. One of the best therapies is exercise, so go for a jog or bike ride, whatever tires you out.
  6. If you are severely depressed, you might be thinking of suicide but just remember that 100% of people who have attempted suicide and recovered from depression have been thankful that they didn’t die.
  7. Know that depression doesn’t last forever. It’s a terrible disease that f***s with your head and makes you see the worst that the world has to offer but at the end of the day, you CAN get better, there is HOPE.
  8. If at the end of all of these things, it just does not get better, get professional help who will help you manage the stress of life and possibly the adverse events that might have gotten you to that stage in your life.

Professional help:
Your first point of call is the GP. Tell your doctor about your symptoms and be sure to mention how long you’ve been feeling this way. Hopefully, they’ll refer you to a counsellor who will most likely try one or a combination of the following therapies:
Interpersonal: helps people resolve conflict with other people, deal with grief or changes in their relationships and develop better relationships.
Cognitive behavioural: Focuses on increasing a person’s level of activity and pleasure in their life
Problem solving: Involves identifying problems, thinking of different solutions, choosing the best solution, developing and carrying out the plan and then following up after.
This may all seem quite straight-forward and something that we all do in times of a problem but the thing with a depressed person is that they may not feel like anything they do is helping so a guide can make all the difference.

Otherwise, there are medical causes for depression (such as thyroid problems, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, medications or co-existing illnesses) and other medical treatment such as anti-depressants if none of the above therapies are working.

Something that always works for me personally is reading about things online so I understand the disease better and therefore, how to deal with it.  
Possible sources:
Wikihow: Ways to Cope with Depression
In my defence, instead of blogging about my feelings, I wrote about how we can all feel better together! :)
Not the person you want to emulate.
Yes, the guy in the blue sweater...that's who you want to be!

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