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How to cope with depression

Depression can be debilitating for many people. With NHS waiting times and prohibitive costs for private treatment, it’s also something that people have to deal with on their own (at least for a time until treatment is secured).

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and while awareness is extremely important, it’s good to know practical tips that can get you through.

If you have depression, these coping strategies can help you find each day a little easier than the last.

Seek treatment early

Although we’re looking mostly at the day-to-day things you can do to make things better, a good starting point is visiting your GP and looking into what is on offer.

You may be prescribed medication, which can improve your mood, and if therapy is offered, you’ll be able to have something to aim for.

In the first instance, even just talking to somebody who understands what you’re going through can be cathartic.

Nominate at least one friend to check in

You might not be ready to disclose to the world that you’re feeling low.

However, if there’s someone you trust enough to tell, let them know that you might withdraw from time to time, and ask them to drop in or give you a call.

Although being alone is what you might want to do in the moment, socialising can improve your mood.

Reduce substance intake

The NHS recommends that those with depression should cut down on alcohol.

Their website states, ‘You may drink more than usual as a way of coping with or hiding your emotions, or just to fill time. But alcohol won’t help you solve your problems and could also make you feel more depressed.’

This is also the case for any drugs or other substances that affect your mood. It’s better to have a clear head.

Exercise and eat right

You don’t need to become a gym bunny or clean eat 24/7, but staying active can produce endorphins that lift your mood.

We also all have to eat, so why not do it while keeping your body fuelled up with vitamins and nutrients?

Try this list of easy meals you can make when you’re feeling low. The NHS recommend starting exercising by walking 20 minutes per day.

Write a – very small – to do list daily

Instead of seeing weeks of emptiness spread before you, chunking things down into days and tasks can make it seem less insurmountable.

In the morning (or before you go to sleep each night) jot down a few things to get done, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you do.

These don’t need to be massive – it can be as simple as having a shower or making the bed – and if you don’t manage to finish it, simply throw it away and start again tomorrow. No need for guilt, here, just little wins when you can get them.

Keep to a routine

Depression can do thing to your brain that you might not understand – including making you want to sleep all day or be unable to sleep at all.

Try to stick to your normal wake up and bedtimes, and eat regularly as your normally would too.

This guide can help you get a better night’s sleep if you’re struggling.

Do one thing each day that scares you

It’s easy to reject speaking to people, going to work, or doing any of the things that make you ‘you’.

Depression is an illness just like any other, and there’s no shame in feeling fear in things that others may deem mundane.

To help yourself long-term, though, it’s good to try and break through those barriers.

Once you do meet friends or do whatever’s worrying you, you’ll likely find it was much more beneficial than staying at home.

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