According to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the year 2020, depression will be the number two cause of "lost years of healthy life" worldwide. However, the cost in human suffering cannot be estimated.
Having discussed the types of depression and the possible cause, in the previous article, it now seems appropriate to discuss how sufferers can help themselves. Remembering that help for chronic, clinical and manic depression should be sought from your doctor. Indeed it is your doctor who would diagnose these types of depression and so even if you feel you have mild depression it is still important to seek your doctor's help first.
Causes and Solutions to Depression
Some of the possible causes of depression have already been listed. The list is not definitive but it is a useful start. If you know the cause of something then at least you have a target for your energies and focus. So if the cause of your depression is work related, then this should be the focus of your energies with the aim of reducing or completely eliminating the cause.
In very few instances do matters change through inaction. If you do nothing about something than that also tends to be the result, nothing. Taking positive action can produce benefits on a number of fronts such as: -
1) You feel better because you are doing something as opposed to just accepting your situation.
2) Doing something or taking action means that it is more likely that there will be a change in the situation.
3) Your options automatically increase if you take action because in doing so you are looking at what choices you have. Looking for something, whether that is your options or something else, means you will discover more than if you just did nothing.
4) The feeling of being trapped starts to dissolve as you realise the only person keeping you trapped is you.
Even if the action you take is to discuss the situation with a close friend, partner or relative at least you get a chance to let it out. Often this by itself will help you feel better.
Changing the Feeling of being Overwhelmed or Unable to Cope
People with depression talk about feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope with what has happened in their life. Often this occurs when more than one of the major areas in a person's life produces a problem.
You might say that there are 5 major areas in a person's life: -
1) Health and well-being
2) Work (or anything that occupies your time)
3) The personal relationship with another person (wife, husband, partner)
4) The home (rented or bought, living with relatives, friends)
5) Anything else (wider family, friends, social aspects etc.
If you get a problem in one area of your life then you can probably cope. If you get another problem at the same time as the first issue and both of these last for some time then this is when a person may start to feel overwhelmed, unable to cope and therefore depressed.
A change of how you view your situation when you have more than one problem is the first thing to do if you feel overwhelmed. Often the feeling of being overwhelmed happens because you are viewing the two (or more) problems as one. You then may start to think and say that everything is wrong with your life and even good news may be turned into negative news.
So start by keeping the problems (unless they are genuinely connected) separately. A way of doing this is to think of each problem as having a separate box in your mind that you keep them in. Then decide to only tackle or think about opening one box at a time in order to tackle them one at a time.
Now this does not mean that you have to see through one problem to completion until you tackle the other problem. It means that you think about and take action on one problem, take it as far as you can and then start on the other problem. You may have to take a number of bites at a problem before it is dealt with. Some problems may involve waiting for others to do something and come back to you before you can do the next step in resolving it.
It can help to have a separate notepad for each problem. Then write down the main points of the problem. Write down the realistic outcome you would like. Then write down the steps you need to tale for that outcome to be realised. Again keeping a note of any dates and interactions you have with anyone. You may need to combine your notepad with a diary to remind you have a future date for further action.
Keeping unrelated problems separate in your mind by thinking of them as being stored in separate boxes can ease the sense of being unable to cope. Then tackling them one at a time can boost your confidence as you start to take manageable bites out of each.
No one eats a piazza in one bite. Now one goes from one floor to the next floor in one step. Each bite or step you take are small enough to be manageable and yet you know with each one that you are getting closer to finishing.
If you need professional help then seek it out. You cannot know how to do everything and an expert might know how to resolve easily what for you has seemed complex.
To summarise: -
1) Focus your energies on the cause
2) If you need to unload, tell a good friend about it
3) Keep different problems separate from each other in your mind
4) Write down the steps you need to take to resolve the problems
5) Remember one step at a time
6) Don't be too proud to seek professional help with any steps you have to take.
Exercise of any sort is a useful addition to getting back control of your life. Whether it is swimming, running or even line dancing, do make sure your physical body gets exercised. For when we exercise the body a number of positive things happen: -
1) The 'feel good' hormones are released lighting our mood
2) Any stress or tension is released from the muscles
3) Our sleep is likely to be improved
4) Energy levels will increase
5) You will feel healthier
6) Your motivation levels will increase.
Lastly, but by no means least, find a relaxation regime that works for you and you enjoy. This might be meditation, yoga, self hypnosis or any practice that helps with stress release will be more than helpful. You can learn meditation from books or cds. Likewise self hypnosis can be easy to enjoy from an appropriately titled self hypnosis cd.
Above all else, be kind to yourself. You’re doing the best you can. Who could ask for more than that!