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What to do when you’re depressed

It can be difficult to know what to do or where to turn when you’re feeling depressed. Depression is an extremely difficult mental health condition to cope with, with symptoms that often make it tough for people to take steps towards feeling better.

Within this blog, we will outline small and practical steps that we recommend you start introducing into your day-to-day life to help you manage your symptoms of depression and improve how you feel. We will also provide information on the support and treatment that is available for you here at Priory Group.

5 practical things to do when depressed

When depressed, many people will feel tired, deflated and low in mood. Combined with feeling worthless and hopeless about the future, this can understandably make it difficult to be proactive and take positive steps forward.

When dealing with depression, it’s important that you really push yourself so that you can start to make changes and improve how you feel. You may want to try incorporating some of the below into your daily life:

1. Speak to someone

We understand that when you’re depressed, the idea of sharing can be difficult. But, it is something that is well worth doing. Sit down with someone you trust and explain how you’ve been feeling lately. They will be able to offer you comfort, support and even advice.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a family member or friend, there are community platforms such as Side by Side by Mind. Here, you can share how you’re feeling with people who have had similar experiences and who truly understand what you are going through.

2. Set yourself small tasks

When depressed, many people feel so incredibly overpowered by their symptoms, that it becomes very difficult to complete everyday tasks. To help with this, set yourself very small and simple tasks one at a time – don’t think too far into the future.

For example, when you wake up in the morning, concentrate on doing just one thing, whether that is making the bed or cleaning your teeth. When you have finished, give yourself credit for doing it and focus on the next task at hand, whether that is making some toast or feeding the dog. Thinking about just one thing at a time can stop you from becoming overwhelmed. And, when you look back at the end of the day and remember all the tasks you’ve completed, you’ll feel accomplished.

3. Get outside

Try going outside for a quick 30 minute walk every day. When depressed, staying indoors may sometimes seem like the easiest thing to do, but it won’t help you to tackle your symptoms and improve how you feel.

By pushing yourself to head outside, you give yourself the opportunity to quieten your mind.  As you focus your attention on what you’re seeing, hearing and feeling, while also keeping to a good pace, you will start to become distracted from your negative thoughts. Walking outdoors can also stimulate the release of neurotransmitters including endorphins, oxytocin and serotonin. These can trigger a positive feeling in the body and enhance our mood.

4. Eat well

When depressed, you may find that you regularly reach for quick and often unhealthy food or you just don’t eat that much at all. It is important to recognise that what we eat can make a big difference to how we feel.

Really try to eat a healthy diet as this can help your mood. 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.

5. Be kind to yourself

When you have depression, you will typically think about yourself in a negative way. But, this will only ever leave you feeling worse.

Treat yourself with kindness and compassionate – dealing with depression isn’t easy and you’re doing a good job. Think about how you would speak to a friend with depression and how you would support them. Do this for yourself too as you really do deserve it.

Treatment options to think about when depressed

When depressed, it is so important to seek help. By getting access to the right treatment, you can start to take steps towards managing and recovering from your symptoms:

  • Visit your GP – GPs are there to help with our mental as well as our physical health. Talk to them about how you’ve been feeling and how these feelings have been impacting your day-to-day life. They will be able to decide on the best steps forward, which may include referring you for specialist therapy sessions or treatment through a provider like Priory Group.
  • Book an appointment at Priory Group – if you prefer, you can also come directly to Priory Group. During your first appointment, you will speak with one of our consultant psychiatrists who will work to determine the correct diagnosis as well as the most effective treatment for you to receive at Priory Group.
  • Access treatment – there are different forms of treatment available for people who are depressed. The treatment that you receive will depend on a number of factors including your symptoms, any previous support you’ve received and the severity of your depression.  The types of treatment available at Priory Group include:
    • Weekly therapy sessions at our wellbeing centres – the most common form of therapy used to help people who are depressed is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). During these sessions, you work with a therapist to identify the thoughts and beliefs that are likely to be fuelling your depressed thoughts. You then work on ways to move past these thoughts so that they have less of a hold on you
    • Day sessions at our hospitals and wellbeing centres – as a slightly more intensive form of treatment for depression, this is where you spend a series of days or half-days with us, taking part in a programme of group and one-on-one therapy sessions
    • Residential stays – if it is deemed appropriate by your consultant psychiatrist, you may be recommended a residential stay in one of our hospitals. This will give you with the time and space to start addressing your depression, where you will receive 24 hour care and support as well as a treatment plan including both therapy and wellbeing sessions
    • Medication – if appropriate, the consultant psychiatrist that you meet with will be able to prescribe medication alongside therapeutic support

At some of our hospitals and wellbeing centres, we are also able to offer:

  • Rapid acting programme in depression (RAPID) by triple chronotherapy – available at our North London hospital, this non-invasive treatment uses wake and bright light therapy to help people with depression. It can be used alongside medication and other psychological therapies
  • Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) – rTMS is available at our Harley Street Wellbeing Centre and uses electro-magnetic fields to stimulate areas of the brain associated with mood control. It is typically utilised for treatment resistant depression, where other avenues have been explored but haven’t been successful

 

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

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