Coping with depression
Coping with depression can sometimes feel so exhausting you wonder if it’s worth the effort. But there are things you can do to help your symptoms and not let it control your life.
I feel depressed, do I have depression?
If you’re worried about how you’re feeling the most important thing to do is talk to your GP. Not only will they be able to diagnose you, but they can also recommend the right treatment, like counselling or antidepressants.
The NHS has an online depression test here. You can always try doing that beforehand if you’re unsure whether you have the symptoms.
How can I cope with depression?
When you’re low, you just want to crawl under your duvet and stay there the whole day. Things like exams, your friends, your family and work, may feel too huge for you to cope with, but that’s just the depression talking.
Once you’ve seen your doctor you can begin to think about how to cope with depression in your daily life. Try to slowly build these things into your routine.
1. Eat healthily – It may taste amazing, but eating loads of junk food will make you feel rubbish. Try to eat lots of fruit and veg. You never know, getting creative in the kitchen could be therapeutic in itself.
2. Get some sleep – Depression can affect your sleep a lot. You may have trouble getting off, or seem to be sleeping all the time. Whichever it is, keep a record of your sleeping patterns and tell your GP if there’s a problem.
3. Spend time with people – Locking yourself away won’t help, instead you should “aim not to feel alone,” according to Helen Cleather from SANE. This means looking to your family and friends for support.
4. Don’t take drugs – or drink lots. Alcohol, drugs, and even lots of caffeine, could make your depression worse.
5. Look after your appearance – It’s a proven fact that looking bad can make you feel bad. There’s no need to go all out, but putting in some effort can lift your mood.
6. Get some exercise –Try to find something active that you enjoy and start small, maybe a 20-minute jog, then build up to a longer routine.
7. Mindfulness – Practise being aware of your thoughts and the world around you. Doing it every day can have a really positive impact on your mental health. We have a more detailed article about it here.
How do I cope with depression during my exams?
When you’re depressed it’s easy to get apathetic and tell yourself you’re a failure, which isn’t great during exam time. Try to remember you’re NOT a failure; it’s just your depression making you FEEL like a failure.
Don’t stop looking after yourself during this time. Eat well, try and get some quality sleep and talk to people about how you’re feeling, then try and do some revision.
Just do what you can. Start by spending an hour or so revising a day then build it up to two hours, and so on. Revision can be overwhelming, but instead of thinking about how much you need to learn focus on just building revision into your daily routine.
It’s also really important you tell your school or university you have depression. You may be able to get extra time or extended deadlines for coursework. “Have regular meetings with your tutor or teacher,” says Helen. “Or use your university counselling service.”
My depression is ruining my social life
You’re not the only person who doesn’t go out every Friday night – even though it often feels that way. Staying in is a completely OK way to spend an evening. Don’t beat yourself up about it.
On the other hand, it’s important to have the support of others and not be alone all the time. So whilst there’s no need to head to the nearest bar, how about inviting one or two friends over to watch a film or just hang out?
Instead of letting depression affect your friendships, talk to your friends about how you’re feeling. They’ll probably be able to relate to a lot of the things you’re going through. They may be thinking: ‘I should be out enjoying myself because everyone else is’ just like you.
“It may feel scary to talk about your depression at first, but when people start talking about mental health it becomes less taboo,” says Helen.
How do I cope with depression at work and in my relationships?
These two are big issues, but depression doesn’t have to be a barrier to healthy relationships and working life. We have in-depth articles for you about mental health at work and mental health and romantic relationships.
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Updated on 22-Dec-2015
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