What causes depression? There is no single cause of depression. You can develop it for different reasons and it has many different triggers. For some, an upsetting or stressful life event can be the cause. For example, bereavement, divorce, illness, redundancy and job or money worries. Often, different causes combine to trigger depression. For example, you may be experiencing work stress and then experience a traumatic event, such as bereavement, which brings on depression. Often if you are lonely and trying to deal with a stressful or traumatic event, this can lead to depression as you are trying to deal with these events on your own. Lastly, it could be due to your genetics or personality. You may be suffer from depression if your have low self-esteem or if your parent or sibling has suffered from being depressed. What can you do about depression? The recovery of depression is like a catch 22. The things that help the most are the most difficult to do. The key to dealing with depression is to take things slowly and just start with a few goals. Take things one day at a time and reward yourself with the things you have accomplished.
- Talk to family and friends. Share with the people who love you and ask them for the support you need. If you feel you do not have family you can talk to then you could think of a local support group or a professional counsellor.
- Try to keep up with social activities. Often this is the one activity you find easy to avoid. However, this can makes you isolated. You will find that often just being with people and doing the things you enjoy can help you feel better about yourself.
- Try to do events which involve other people. For example, volunteering or joining an evening class or club.
- Challenge your negative thinking. You can do this by writing down all your negative thoughts. Jot down what triggered that thought and try to think if there is another way to view that situation.
- Allow yourself a good night’s sleep. Sleep is important. If you don’t sleep this will increase your irritability and feeling low during the day.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or try mindfulness.
- Take up exercise. You will find that just a half hour walk can boost your mood. If you regularly take up some exercise it can sustain your better mood.
- Eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and try to minimise carbohydrates and sugars.
- Seek additional help by counselling or a self-help group.
- Try writing therapy. Start writing every day about your feelings and emotions. Just start with writing down your feelings. You may then find you can write around these. If possible try for 10 minutes of writing a day. It may help you sort out the confusing thoughts and help you express the emotions are you feeling.
- Make a ‘Happy Book’. Every time you enjoy a day with a family or friend or achieve something then put it in your happy book. It can be photos, writing, tickets etc. When you are feeling low, get out your book and look at it to remind yourself that you can have happy days.
Useful reading The following books can be additional help towards depression What to Do When Someone You Love Is Depressed by M. Golant and S. Golant. This book offers a guide for people who act as support systems for loved ones with depression. Overcoming Depression by Paul Gilbert is a self-help manual with looks at the causes of depression, and gives practical ideas of helping you taking control of your depression and low mood. It is based on CBT techniques. Useful websites www.depressionforums.org A Depression & Mental Health Social Community supports people who suffer with depression, their family, friends and carers. Its online depression support group allows you to read other people’s experiences with depression, and also provide your own (if you’d like). It is private and secure. Elefriends is a supportive online community set up by Mind Charity. It aims to provide a safe place to listen, share and be heard Depression Alliance specialises in providing support to people affected by depression. It has a national network of self-help groups and has chat forum.