In his first piece, Clinical Lead of VitalityHealth partner CBT Services, Brendan Street, explained what the symptoms and causes of depression could be. Here, he provides us with advice on how to help manage depression.

The first step to overcoming your depression is recognising that you have it. After this, it is generally advised that you talk to someone about your depression – this could be a family member or friend who you trust, or a professional. But this option can be harder than it seems if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it. Luckily, there are some self-help techniques you can do on your own:

Get active

Having some sort of structure of activity is vital. If you’re constantly in an environment that’s not giving you any sort of reinforcement – a sense of pleasure or sense of achievement – your mood is going to stay low. For example, if you sit in a one bedroom flat without any company or hobbies, your mood has got nothing to thrive on.  Get out of the house, socialise or try gradually to get back into the hobbies, sports or leisure activities that you used to enjoy for example, reading. This will bring back the sense of enjoyment and achievement that was missing from your day.

Back to basics

A lot of the symptoms of depression are formed when you don’t do the everyday things right – such as your diet. If you’re not getting it right when you’re eating or drinking, then you’re going to struggle to recover from the other symptoms of depression and they could end up getting worse. Look to get three full, nutritious meals a day and try to limit the amount of alcohol you have in the evening. Not only is it a depressant that could be making your mood worse, but it can also have a knock on effect on your sleep.

Sleep on it

Like your diet, your sleeping routine is a gateway symptom of depression that can have a knock on effect. An example would be that if you start to have disrupted sleep, you wouldn’t have as much energy. If you don’t have as much energy you might not choose to go to meet your mates. If you don’t meet your mates, you’re not getting a sense of reinforcement, you might just sit in, and you can see how it starts to kick off all of the other symptoms.

Read our 8 ways to improve your sleep

Be more mindful

There are some meditation techniques that can help with depression like mindfulness which is about making sure that you are focused on being in the present moment. The more you get depressed, the more you can disappear into your own mind. Mindfulness is about noticing everything around you and what your thoughts are doing, and by being mindful, you’ll notice quickly when you are starting to ruminate – where you focus on your depression’s causes and consequences, rather than solutions. At this point, you can choose to do something else rather than getting stuck in the rumination.

If these four tips don’t work, it may be time to see a specialist like a GP or a CBT therapist. They will be able help you manage your depression and hopefully stop it coming back again in the future by giving you a strategy for dealing with it.

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