Depression has become a common mental illness in the United States, where one in 15 adults suffers from depression annually. While depression can affect individuals of every age, it has an onset in the late teens. Patients dealing with symptoms of depression have reduced quality of life and productivity. Luckily, depression is a manageable condition.
After a self-test or formal diagnosis in a healthcare facility, an individual can enroll in a depression management program. Self-help for depression has also proven to work for most patients. This article provides self-help tips to help patients manage their depression and improve their quality of life.
What Is Depression
Depression (major depressive disorder or clinical depression) is a medical condition that impacts how a patient feels, thinks, or acts. The condition causes a feeling of overwhelming sadness and loss of interest in most activities. Clinical depression can lead to heavy emotions and physical problems. These problems may decrease the ability of an individual to function at work, school, or home.
Fortunately, depression is treatable. Patients can start with a self-test for depression. After the self-test, a patient can try self-help for depression before seeking help from professional therapists.
Symptoms of Depression
Depression symptoms can vary from patient to patient. However, patients should differentiate between occasional sadness or feelings of low mood caused by traumatic events in life.
For the symptoms to qualify as depression, the patient must experience them for at least two weeks. The symptoms may last a few weeks, become chronic, or intermittent.
Some common signs and symptoms of depression include;
- A feeling of sadness or depressed mood that lasts for at least two weeks
- Changes in appetite, including an increase in appetite and weight gain
- Loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities
- Changes in sleeping patterns: sleeping too much
- Increased fatigue or loss of enthusiasm to work
- A feeling of worthlessness and guilt
- Inability to remain focused and make sound decisions
- Suicide ideation
Patients using the self-test should also know some health conditions mistaken for depression. These health conditions include thyroid problems, vitamin deficiency, or brain tumors that may mimic the symptoms of depression. A patient should only go for self-help for depression after ruling out other medical risks.
Self-Help for Depression
Depression can destabilize the life of a patient. The stigma around clinical depression may exacerbate the symptoms and impact the health-seeking behavior of patients. However, the self-care tips listed below can help the patient manage the symptoms and overcome depression.
For most patients with depression, engaging in physical exercises is the last thing they want to try. They may desire to remain in bed the whole day. When they start a workout session, they get a refreshment that helps them deal with their negative thoughts. Although the link between physical exercise and the treatment of depression and anxiety remains unclear, working out reduces the symptoms.
Workouts may ease depression in the following ways:
- Take the patient’s minds off their worries. In most cases, depression fills an individual with negative thoughts. Engaging in physical activities helps the patient to forget the negative thoughts and focus on the workout.
- Release the feel-good hormones. Physical exercises trigger the release of endorphins and other natural feel-good chemicals in the body.
- Reduce side effects of depression. Patients with depression run the risk of gaining unhealthy weight. Physical exercises can help them control their weight even as they deal with depression symptoms.
Patients can also use yoga therapy to manage the symptoms of depression. Yoga is increasingly becoming incorporated into treatment plans for most mental health issues. Patients can learn yoga skills and use their therapeutic benefits to ease depression. Other relaxation techniques such as muscle relaxation and music therapy can help patients deal with depression.
Patients who have not learned yoga and muscle relaxation can focus on music therapy. Music influences the brain to respond positively to negative feelings and situations.
Some forms of depression, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) are intensified by darkness. Patients experience this form of depression during the darker months of the year. Patients can get a light therapy device and use artificial light to ease the symptoms of SAD. The patient can sit in front of the light every morning for thirty minutes.
Some people find it hard to share their depressive feelings. However, talking to a friend can help reduce the intensity of negative thoughts. If the patients are worried about their privacy, they can use virtual group therapies that maintain a high level of confidentiality.
Spending Time in Nature
Depression may make individuals seek comfort indoors. However, gathering the courage to take a walk in nature may be all they need to ease the negative feelings. Patients should be encouraged to spend time in nature since research suggests nature helps improve moods and cognition.
Avoid Alcohol and Other Drugs
Patients with depression may want to control their negative thoughts with alcohol or drugs. However, drugs only worsen the symptoms of depression. The best thing is to withdraw from alcohol and focus on other beneficial methods of dealing with depression. A patient who feels like drinking or smoking can take a walk in nature or start a workout session.
Work in the Garden
Patients with a garden can get their hands dirty and stay busy to forget their negative thoughts. Research shows that contact with soil and spending time in the fields (green therapy) helps reduce stress and depression.
Deal with Specific Issues Instead of Generalizing Things
Depression may result from events in life that cause heavy emotions. Challenges in life are unavoidable most of the time. Depression patients should focus on other positive aspects of life instead of generalizing their whole life.
Defy the Depression Voice
People with depression will constantly get an inner feeling or voice that directs them to sink deeper into depression. An example of the depression voice is spending the entire day in bed. To manage the symptoms of depression, patients should defy depression control. They can get out in nature, talk to friends, start work sessions, and avoid isolation.
Get Professional Help
If the self-help solutions for depression do not work for you or your loved one, treatment can help. D’Amore Mental Health is here to help people find the road to recovery from depression. We are here to help people find a happier and healthier lifestyle.