If you're suffering from depression, you are not alone: there are probably several thousand people suffering from depression in Exeter alone. But depression is a temporary state that many many people experience: it's not you. It's real but it's not who you are. There are different types of depression, and people experience different combinations of symptoms, have different triggers, and cope in different ways. Depression is a very individual experience and how you feel is unique.
There are three important things for you to know right now:
- Most people suffering with depression will get better even if without any professional help. It can take time - probably 6 months or so.
- Reaching out for help is a big step towards recovery. The simple fact that you're reading this means you've already made important progress.
- There are many ways to help you through a period of depression. It may be hard to believe right now, but you can and you will come through this.
Let's look briefly at what can help.
Talking to a counsellor is probably the single most effective form of therapy for depression. You can talk to your therapist about anything and be sure that you will be really heard with compassion and understanding. Talking can help you feel less isolated and can open up a different perspective. A therapist can also suggest ways to break the cycle of worry. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is recommended by the NHS for treating depression, and is very effective for many people. Depression and anxiety often come together, and in fact is the most common mental disorder in Britain. Therapy can be especially helpful in such situations and I have some advice on anxiety which might be useful.
Exercise can be helpful. Getting outside - especially into sunny or natural spaces -is also good. Ecotherapy Research confirms that spending time in nature can be really helpful with depression. Try to meet up with friends. Getting support from those close to you is really important, so decide to say 'yes' to people. It's tempting to make an excuse, but keep that 'yes' in mind. Diet is important, so try to eat regularly. Fresh fruit and vegetables are particularly helpful as is the omega-3 you get from oily fish or food supplements. Depressions can disrupt your sleep, but aim to keep to a healthy sleeping pattern. If you find difficulty sleeping, lie down with some relaxing music or a sleep meditation recording. Letting yourself relax is healing and you may find that you just drop off to sleep naturally.
Mediation not only helps during a depressive phase; it's also one of the most effective ways you can support your mental health in the long term. I have an ongoing meditation practice and can help you with yours - especially if you're a complete beginner.
Therapeutic journaling can be helpful. At the end of each day see if you can list three things you are grateful for or that went well. It can be something really simple like 'It was sunny today' or 'Someone smiled at me' or 'I heard a song I liked'. Journaling can also help you understand what's feeding your depressed state. If you've identified a particular problem, try writing it down and think of all the things you could do about it. Could you pick one of the simple ones and try it?
Anti-depressant tablets can be helpful and your doctor can advise you about them. Anti-depressants can be useful to take the edge off so that you find other ways forward.
Finally, avoid alcohol and cannabis. Although they might look like a way out, they will take you deeper into depression.
Contact me if you have any questions about depression or would like to meet for an introductory session. This initial meeting is at the reduced rate of £20 and provides an opportunity to talk about how you're feeling and how I might help.