A lot of people have been talking about depression this week in the wake of Kate Spade’s suicide. Her husband said she was trying to get help – but she was still suffering. I don’t know what kind of treatment she was undergoing, but I was saddened to see her to join the list of people who we have lost to depression over the years. Please know that recovery is possible – although while you are depressed, you may feel that it isn’t.
Depression isn’t something you can just “snap out of” but there are things that you can do to help yourself. Since one of the symptoms of depression is decreased energy, it can be overwhelming just thinking about making a change – so start with one and go from there.
Self-care tips for depression
- Look after your body and your brain
- participate in physical activity for 30 minutes a day – go for a walk outside if you are able
- eat healthier meals – avoid foods high in sugar/carbs that can contribute to mood and energy swings
- avoid alcohol and recreational drugs – alcohol can actually cause depression, people coming off of meth/stimulants can frequently feel depressed
- sleep in your bed – not in front of the t.v.
- Find a sense of meaning
- talk to your spiritual leader or someone from your worship community
- journal, make a gratitude list
- Decrease your stress
- postpone any major decisions you can until after you aren’t depressed
- keep with your daily routine – small things like getting up and making the bed and taking a shower can help – and you may feel worse if you don’t do them
- allow yourself to leave work at the end of the day and take your weekends/holidays
- do yoga, meditate, pray
- do something creative – draw, play music, write poetry, short stories – to get your emotions out – you don’t have to show anyone what you have done
- spend time with your pet
- Connect with the community you already have – stronger connections can help you get well faster
- participate in activities you are invited to even if you don’t feel like it
- do an activity with a friend you haven’t connected with recently – go get a coffee, go for a walk or swim
- schedule things in advance instead of waiting to see what you feel like doing – if you are depressed, you may not feel like doing anything
Treatment for Depression
If you have been dealing with symptoms of depression for more than 2 weeks and things aren’t getting better or if your symptoms are severe, talking to your doctor can help get you connected with the help that you need. You can go for counseling, take medications (or both) to get relief while you continue the self-help tips I have listed above. If your depression gets worse and you are thinking about hurting yourself – please reach out and call the Suicide Lifeline 1-800-273-8255.
Depression can make you feel isolated – in part due to symptoms of the disease, as well as the social stigma that may go along with it. You may find community from joining a small group at your place of worship, or through something like Meetup. If you want to connect with others who are dealing with mental health problems, there are organizations that help with that too. Groups like NAMI are designed to help people (and their families) find a community that understands what they are dealing with. In the Greater Cincinnati area, there is both a Northern Kentucky and a Southwest Ohio NAMI group. Another agency in Northern Kentucky that provides peer and family support is Mental Health America.
I don’t recommend that you take much time off of work and stay at home if you are depressed. I have found that the isolation that people feel staying at home and the lack of routine that comes with taking time off, can actually make people worse instead of better. If your depression is severe – but not bad enough to be in the hospital, participating in a structured program like partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment can help. Depression is a medical condition and you can qualify to take time off for treatment if you are covered under FMLA.
The most important thing to remember is that there is hope. Depression is treatable. And, you are not alone.
***Note *** This post, like all my other posts, is for general medical information only and is not to be taken as direct advice. Please consult your personal physician for more information.