The common cold of mental illness
Depression is known as the common cold of mental illness. It is a treatable disease. Millions of people who suffered from depression have fully recovered. From prescribed medication to alternative ones like St John’s wort and LSD, from conventional talking therapies to complimentary therapies like mindfulness and yoga, many more have found a combination of ways to manage their depression and live fulfilling lives. If your doctor has diagnosed you with depression there are many things you can do to reclaim your life.
Why do people become depressed?
There are 2 types of depression:
- Endogenous depression: There are no triggers as it comes from within.
- Reactive depression: There are triggers that cause the depression. Here are some examples of stressors.
- Physical illness
- Sense of loss: death of a loved one, loss of a role in life, loss of job, loss of support
- Low self esteem
- Substance misuse/ abuse
- Inability of cope with stress within the work place, family or society
- Unresolved trauma
- Unsolved problems
How do depressed people think?
- All or nothing thinking: the persons thinks in absolutes – in black and white with no middle ground or grey area. They tend to judge others using general labels. ” I’ll never get a job” ” I’m completely useless”
- Awfulising or catastrophising: the person tends to magnify or exaggerate how awful or unpleasant events can be. He tyically over estimates the chance of failure
- Personalising: the person takes responsibility and blames himself for anything unpleasant eventhough it has nothing to do with him
- Negative focus: the person focuses on the negatives and usually filters out the positive aspects of events.
- Jumping to conclusions: the person interprets events negatively without evidence or definite facts. Predicting the future negatively
- Living by fixed rules: the person is most likely a perfectionist, living by fixed rules with little or no flexibility. He has high expectations of people. He regularly uses the word ” should” “ought” ” must” or “can’t”. The more rigid the statement the more disappointed , angry, depressed or guilty he is likely to feel
- Do things that bring you joy
- Change your environment if possible
- Exercise regularly
Questions to ask
Only a doctor can diagnose you. Your doctor may prescribe medication and suggest other treatment. Make sure you get as much information as possible from your doctor and other reliable sources. Below are some questions you may want to ask:
- What is the name of the medication?
- How does it work?
- When will the effect of the medication kick in?
- How long do I have to take the medication for?
- What happens if I stop taking the medication?
- What are the side effects of the medication?
- How can I manage the side effects?
- What happens if I want to get pregnant?
- I’m taking other medication , will the antidepressant be effective?
- I’m breastfeeding , will the medication have any effect?
- How long do I need to see the doctor for?
- What happens if I want to stop taking the medication?
- What happens if the medication does not work?
Sometimes you may need to be in hospital to have a more intensive treatment. It is important that you fully discuss this with your doctor, your carer and those that you care for. The purpose of being in hospital is to keep you safe. The environment and health care professionals can help you get better. Make sure you have a discharge plan to remain well as this is important. Keep your appointments with the health professionals and keep active.
Feeling depressed is a vicious cycle. Your negative thoughts make you feel miserable, lack of confidence and unmotivated. This means you slow down, get tired and become less active. You avoid situations which means you don’t have any positive experience. As a result, your confidence is further reduced. The reduced confidence strengthens your negative thoughts.
To do list
- Write down a “to do” list before you sleep because you need a plan for the next day
- Mix pleasurable activities with duties and responsibilities
- Connect with others; phone a friend to go for a walk with you
- Break big tasks into smaller ones.
- Be flexible . Do not fret if you are unable to achieve one of the task. Just go to the next one
- Increase the frequency of your activity taking it one step at a time.
For more information on how to cope with depression purchase my e-book ” You can be your best ”