When you’re going through depression, you can’t just shake it off. You might have a couple of good days followed by a bad day or a string of bad days. And you don’t know how long it will last. Depression isn’t like the flu or an injured ankle, where your doctor can tell you about how long it will take to get better.
When you’re getting better, many experts call it recovery. Recovery is finding your path to the life you care about.
During your recovery, be patient and kind to yourself. Remember that depression isn’t your fault and isn’t something you can overcome with willpower alone. You need treatment for depression, just like for any other illness.
Continuing your treatment, helping yourself, getting support, and having a healthy lifestyle are all part of your recovery. Your symptoms will fade as your treatment starts to work. Don’t give up. Focus your energy on getting better. Your mood will improve. It just takes some time.
Living with depression is like living with a 40 ton weight on your chest — you want to get up and move, but you just feel like you can’t. ~ David J.
There are some key steps you can take to lift your mood and help your recovery from depression.
Take your medication – It is important to take your medication as prescribed, even if you start to feel better.
If you stop your medication too soon, you could have a relapse of your depression. If you have any questions or concerns about the medication you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Check with your doctor first if you plan to take any over-the-counter remedies such as painkillers, or any nutritional supplements. These can sometimes interfere with antidepressants.
Exercise and diet – Exercise and a healthy diet can make a terrific difference to how quickly you recover from depression. And they will both improve your general health, too. Research suggests that exercise may be as effective as antidepressants at reducing depression symptoms. Being physically active can lift your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, boost the release of endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals) and improve self-esteem.
It also helps your mood to have a healthy diet. In fact, eating healthily seems to be just as important for maintaining your mental health as it is for preventing physical health problems.
Mindfulness – It can be easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much. Paying more attention to the present moment, to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you. Some people call this awareness ‘mindfulness’, and you can take steps to develop it in your own life.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends ‘mindfulness based cognitive therapy’ for people who are currently well but have experienced three or more previous episodes of depression. It may help to prevent a future episode of depression.
Self-help and Dealing with – There are a number of things people can do to help reduce the symptoms of depression. For many people, regular exercise helps create positive feeling and improve mood. Getting enough sleep on a regular basis, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding alcohol can also help reduce symptoms of depression.
Depression is a real illness and help is available. With proper diagnosis and treatment, the vast majority of people with depression will overcome it. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, a first step is to see your family physician or psychiatrist. Talk about your concerns and request a thorough evaluation. This is a start to addressing mental health needs.