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I think I have depression – what can I do?

While it’s normal for everyone to be sad or upset occasionally, if these feelings are intense, constant or are affecting your quality of life, you may be suffering with depression.

Depression can be very difficult to cope with. But there are a number of things you can do if you think you have depression. In this blog, we give some tips on how to cope if you think you have depression, and provide information on the professional help that’s available here at Priory.

Research into the symptoms of depression

If you think you have depression, it’s a good idea to learn more about its symptoms. This means you will have a better understanding of what you’re going through and what to expect. It can also help you to spot when you’re going through a difficult time and whether there’s anything in particular that may be triggering your low moods. The most common symptoms of depression to look out for are:

  • Intense sadness – this might be so bad that you struggle to look after yourself or function in your daily life
  • Crying more often than usual and for no clear reason
  • Becoming angry and frustrated over minor things
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless and unable to see a way out
  • Feeling as though you can’t cope in your daily life
  • Not wanting to see your family and friends
  • Not wanting to take part in hobbies or activities that you used to enjoy
  • Not getting enough sleep or sleeping more than usual
  • Feeling tired all the time and feeling as though you can’t get out of bed in the morning
  • Unexplained aches, pains and digestive problems
  • Changes to your appetite which has caused you to either gain weight or lose weight
  • Not looking after your physical appearance or personal hygiene

Connect with others

If you think you have depression, try talking to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. By opening up, they will be able to support you when you’re feeling low and make you feel less alone.

Another way to connect with people is to try and get ‘out there’ a bit. You could look at joining a local club or group, such as a sports team, a book club or even volunteering. Things like this can act as a distraction from your negative thoughts, help you to meet other people and form friendships, and give you a reason to get up and get out of the house, all of which can increase your positivity, motivation and general wellbeing.

Be realistic and practical

If you’re worried you have depression, it’s important that you set yourself realistic daily goals. These can include things like aiming to have a shower, get dressed and leave the house at some point every day. Also try to keep to a daily schedule such as cooking or eating at the same time. These practical steps can give you structure and purpose, and if you manage to achieve them every day, this can motivate you to gradually take on bigger goals.

But, make sure you don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t able to achieve your goals. Instead, just tell yourself that tomorrow is a new day and you can try again. It’s so important to be kind to yourself.

Try to be positive

Even though being positive may seem to be impossible when you’re feeling so low, it’s really important that you try. A way of doing this is to write down three things you’re grateful for every night before you go to sleep and reflect on them when you wake up in the morning. You can also take conscious steps to discover what makes you happy, whether these are certain people, activities, places or pets. When you have identified them, try to incorporate as many of them as possible in your daily life. You could even write them down in a list which you can look at when you’re feeling low, to remind yourself of the things you’re passionate about and which bring you happiness.

Look after your physical health

When we’re struggling with our mental health, our physical health can suffer and this can make us feel even worse in the long run. If you think you have depression, try to make an effort to look after yourself physically and you may find that this helps you to feel better mentally. Try to:

  • Exercise each day – this boosts the ‘happy chemicals’ in the brain and can improve your mood. Even going for a short walk every day can help
  • Eat well – try to eat as healthily as you can and avoid junk food and overeating. Research shows foods that are rich in omega-3 acids (such as tuna and salmon) and folic acid (including spinach and avocado) can actually help to ease the symptoms of depression
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs – even though you may think these substances will help you feel better, they can make you feel a lot worse in the long-term and could lead to addiction
  • Get enough sleep – try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, avoid electronics in the bedroom and avoid napping if you can. All of these increase your chances of getting a good night’s sleep, helping you feel more rested and positive the next day
  • Look after your hygiene and appearance – these things may not seem important to you if you think you have depression, but simple things like washing, getting dressed and combing your hair can have a positive effect on your mood

Get professional support for your depression

While the above steps can help, it’s important to understand that you may need professional help to overcome your depression.

At Priory, we provide specialist treatment for depression at our hospitals and wellbeing centres, including therapy, counselling or residential stays if needed. Through our support, we can help you tackle your symptoms, learn coping mechanisms for the future, and take steps towards the healthy, happy and fulfilling life you deserve.

Blog reviewed by Dr Leon Rozewicz (MBBS, FRCPsych, MRCGP, MRCPsych), Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director of Priory Hospital North London

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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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