My Top Ten Depression Tips

A few weeks ago I was emailed via my Contact Me page by a website called TalkersTen.com, inviting me to write something for them. As you do, I did a little research to check out their site and their claim to get over 50,000 hits per day. They sent me a screenshot apparently proving that, but given that their Facebook page only had around 50 likes I was still a little sceptical. I should point out that this site is based (I think) in India, and isn’t to be confused with the better known American site Talkers.com. They promise to let you know within 48 hours if they will be using your piece, which is important to a small blogger like me, as they would claim copyright over what I wrote for them if they used it. Two weeks went by and I heard nothing, so I emailed them again yesterday and told them not to use what I had written, as I would be sharing it with my regular readers instead. My writing – my copyright!

The format used by TalkersTen.com is to go in ascending order, from 10 to 1, and though that isn’t really appropriate to a subject like depression, I did my best to fit in with them. As I said in that article, I’m not a doctor, or qualified to give medical diagnosis or advice. But I have experience, which can count for a lot! So, although those 50,000 daily readers of TalkersTen.com won’t see them, these are my top ten tips to help you get through depression, if you are unlucky enough to suffer it:

  1. Seek help

Try to be honest with yourself and seek help. The hardest part is to make that initial judgement on yourself, recognise that something might be wrong, and to do something about it, but if you don’t things may never improve. I finally plucked up the courage to call my doctor about four months after the first signs were there, but I had tried to put them out of my mind until the point where I just couldn’t do that any more. As a result, I was off work for nearly 10 months, when I may have been able to get back into my regular life much sooner if I had sought help earlier than I did.

  1. Talk to someone

Talk to friends and/or family: it can make such a difference if you know that others are aware of how you feel and can be there for you. If friends give up on you question how valuable they are as friends, maybe you don’t really need them in your life. Consider if you would be there for them if things were reversed: if you would, but they aren’t prepared to support you, drop them. It will make things worse for you if you waste time and energy worrying about why they are treating you the way they do. Find the people who show you that you can trust and rely on them – their support will be invaluable.

  1. Don’t shut yourself away

Don’t make the same mistake that I did and shut yourself away from other people, or block them out. People can help, and you need them, and I don’t just mean close friends and family by this. Even if you aren’t the type who makes conversation easily with strangers, don’t be afraid of mixing with people. Try if you can to get out of your home, even if it is just for a mooch around the shops, or maybe a coffee somewhere. The worst thing you can do is to isolate yourself – our brains can go into overdrive when we have a mental health problem, and trying to work it out on your own won’t solve anything.

  1. Don’t be afraid of it

Especially if this is the first time you have ever had such a problem, a mental health issue can be a very scary place. In many of us there is a natural tendency to fight against things we fear. Don’t! Try not to fight it: try to work around it and through it. If you treat it like a battle you’ll exhaust yourself. And you probably won’t have done anything constructive towards a longer-term improvement, either.

  1. Do something – anything

Try to do something – anything – to occupy your mind. If you can rebuild your ability to concentrate on activities, however trivial, it will help you take your mind off yourself. One of the signs that I was depressed was that I no longer enjoyed reading, watching TV or listening to music, all of which were a mainstay of my normal day. Part of this was that my illness meant that I couldn’t concentrate for very long, and ended up repeating what I had already done. I tried to read a novel, and must have read the first chapter at least five times before I gave up. But I can still recall the first time after I became ill when I managed to watch a TV programme for a whole hour, without losing concentration. That was five years ago, and the memory of that realisation is still very vivid to me, so I can’t understate the importance of persevering. It will help you through – I know that from experience.

  1. Take your meds

If you are prescribed medicine, take it! I know that it doesn’t work for everyone and you will hear people say disparaging things about dependence on anti-depressants. But depression is a form of chemical imbalance in the brain and the meds help to adjust that. If you feel uncomfortable about taking them, or if you think they are giving you side effects, talk this through with your doctor. Don’t decide on your own just to stop taking them, as this can do more harm than good.

  1. Eat and drink well

This is probably stating the obvious, as a healthy, balanced diet is always important to us, but particularly so when we are ill. Depression is an illness, and our body needs to be at its strongest to help us cope with any illness and, hopefully, to overcome it. It can be very difficult to go through the chore of cooking a meal when you are depressed, but do try to make the effort. Fruit and some vegetables can be eaten without the need for cooking, and they are all good for our health. There are plenty of simple recipes that take very little effort and help sustain us. Drink well too: regular liquids, especially water and juices, are essential. But try to resist any temptation towards alcohol: it doesn’t help! If your depression prevents you from eating, it will take longer to recover from it. Again, I know this from my own experience – a classic case of ‘do as I say, not as I did!’

  1. Exercise

Regular exercise is known to have lots of benefits. It can help you concentrate, sleep better and boost your self-confidence. The benefits of good physical health on your mental health – and vice versa – are well known, so it is important to take as much exercise as you can. This doesn’t have to be a strenuous gym session, even a walk around the block is better than doing nothing. Try it, you’ll feel better for it.

  1. Be proud of yourself

When you have depression, your self-esteem is usually very low. You have negative thoughts about yourself, or worse. But try to recognise that this isn’t the real you, it’s the illness speaking. I know how hard it can be, but try to think of the positives in your life: your achievements, your job, your family and friends. Look for the good things in all of these, and build an image of who you really are. Then be proud of yourself, and feel valued by yourself as well as by others.

  1. Never, ever give up hope

It is very easy, when you are depressed, to feel that things will never get better. Life seems impossible, and you question where it can go. But, again, this is the illness at work. I know it is hard to believe when things feel at their worst, but there really is a light at the end of that dark tunnel. Try to remember that, and never, ever give up hope.

I’m not pretending that this list is in any way definitive or exhaustive, and no doubt anyone who has experience of depression can tell me lots of things that work for them but which I’ve left out. However, these all have some meaning for me and, if you are a fellow sufferer, I hope that at least one of these ten tips is useful for you.

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32 thoughts on “My Top Ten Depression Tips

  1. Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve come across your blog at just the right time. I needed these reminders because I am in that dark place. I’m isolating and blocking out everyone that loves and cares about me. I just don’t feel like talking to anyone, but I do go to my therapy twice a week………………………Being chronically ill is a depressing thing. Take care. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely love this. I have dealt with the sting of depression more than I’m willing to talk about, and its amazing that you would take the time out and energy to address this issue and how to deal with it. Peace and love to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks for your kind words, and for following. I’ll check out your blog too! This is why I started my blog, and although I’ve wandered off topic a bit I do try to get back to it now and again!

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  3. The creeping black dog that lurks in the shadows and silently leaps onto your shoulder. These are great mechanisms for at least controlling it. I particularly value exercise and have also found that meditation is helpful.

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  4. Wonderful list, Clive. I would add service or emotional support animal. I have a psychiatric service dog and her greatest gift is that she is available, reliable and accepting … even at 3:00 AM. People, on the other hand, can be unreliable. They may have the best of intentions but they also have other commitments and priorities.

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    • Thank you! That’s a dimension I hadn’t thought of, to be honest. It’s great that you have that support and that it works for you. Dogs are very loyal friends.

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  5. Meditation, Aromatherapy oils, writing a daily gratitude journal, art/craft work all worked better for me than clinical intervention. As a teenager I was prescribed strong meds -far too strong – that literally put me to sleep for a month, another doctor took one look at them and threw them on the fire! Family have never understood or been able to help. After my son was born and I had depression, the doctor was only interested in my sex life. A Community Psychiatric Nurse visited once when I was a much older adult and I never saw or heard from her again. When I called in desperation I was told she was on holiday and not given any other avenue. Pills are no help as I generally react badly to pharmaceuticals. In the end, self-help has been the best care in my case. Recognising the onset of symptoms, knowing that eventually they will subside, taking care of my physical health and those other methods I mentioned at the beginning. Talking doesn’t help for me, it sends me deeper into the spiral. Understanding the right foods to onclude and avoid is a great help, anything that is a good source of magnesium for instance, the mineral most people are deficient in and which keeps us calm, 2 handfuls of cashews for example has the same beneficial effect as a dose of Prozac. In Germany, GPs give prescriptions for the herbal remedy St John’s Wort for mild to moderate depression. B vitamins are also essential for good mental health as are omega oils. Juicing also resets hormones and makes you calmer. Sunshine is also a great tonic.

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    • Those are wonderful tips, Chris! Some I’ve not tried there, but will do if the need arises. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such problems but it seems that you’ve worked out how to deal with them and overcome them. I also seem to have had better support from the system, must be that lottery effect of the local services being better in some places than others.

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      • I think personality has a lot to do with how you respond to different therapies too. I would never cope in a group situation, I have always preferred to treat myself having had so many negative experiences in clinical situations, both for physical and mental issues. I am perceptive, intuitive, knowledgeable and analytical and can now usually work out what is needed, but in the past you were brought up to do what the doctor said and too many times I allowed doctors to make decisions I intuitively knew were wrong and I would end up worse. They once put me in a full body plaster cast and literally forgot about me for 4 months! They ‘lost’ my records! I did have one lovely female GP who would come and pop in for a chat once in a while when I was bedridden, she understood I didn’t want prescriptions and was fully supportive of my use of alternative therapies. She did however arrange for a consultant psychiatrist to visit me at home when I was really struggling mentally. He listened, pronounced me completely sane, told me that I was extremely perceptive and there was nothing he could tell me that I didn’t already know and I probably just needed soemone to talk to!

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      • I agree. Groups wouldn’t work for me either, I’d be too reticent about sharing in a face to face situation. Funnily, it’s much easier to do it in the virtual world, even though people I know in the real world have read what I’ve said. You’re clearly more than capable of working through problems, others can’t do that and the natural tendency then is to believe the ‘expert.’ As you say, they are far from infallible and the systems aren’t perfect!

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      • And self-help only works when you’ve already been through it and have some understanding and self-awareness. And I was never on my own. So many individuals struggle because they are on their own and also don’t have the resources to take care of themselves.

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  6. Hi Clive, suffer from the black dog myself and I can honestly say that its the guilt of not being able to function which can paralyse me further. Love your advice and I would like to add that the best advice my husband was given by my french doctor was to emotionally hug me in a duvet and expect nothing in return until it lifts..and it always does. X

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